The Outhouse's biggest Flash fan casts a very critical eye over Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul's The Flash #1
Credits & Solicit Info:
The Flash #1
Written by GEOFF JOHNS; Art, cover and 1:100 variant cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL; 1:25 Variant cover by Tony Harris
A BRIGHTEST DAY tie-in! Get in on the ground floor of DC's next epic in the making! The Flash races out of BLACKEST NIGHT and into his own monthly title as the all-new adventures of The Fastest Man Alive start with "Case One: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues!" Barry Allen runs back to his life in Central City, but when one of the Rogues turns up murdered under mysterious circumstances, it's up to The Flash to not only solve this bizarre crime, but protect those that are still targeted by the elusive killer. Plus, don't miss a peek into the future of the Flash universe in this special, extra-sized starting point issue!
DC Universe 40pg. Color $3.99 US
On Sale April 14, 2010
I LOVE The Flash. It's my favourite thing in comics. I love Wally West, I love Bart Allen, I love Jay Garrick, I love Jesse Quick, Max Mercury, John Fox, Irey and Jai West, everyone. I don't know Barry Allen though, I've not read anything with him in except for the times he's come back in time to help out Wally. Now, at first I was annoyed that Wally was getting shafted like this, and in many ways, I still am. I'm still upset that Tom Peyer had such a promising start cut short and that Wally's final arc was so dreadful, but hey, I'm an optimist, and it's nice to see DC have confidence in The Flash again. With Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul, they've got an A* team prepared and The Flash matters again, and that makes me happy, so they'll be no anti-Barry rants from me. Not yet, anyway. I'm going in fresh and prepared to like Barry, prepared to love him, because I fucking love Speedsters, and the more there are, the happier I am.
The issue starts with a splash of the Central City skyline, I get the feeling that Johns wants to do to Central what Robinson did with Opal, make the city a character in its own right. With Manapul aboard, he certainly has a chance, the art is beautiful and looks incredibly detailed and realistic, from the trains running around the city to the little swimming pool on the top of one of the buildings, Manapul has obviously put a lot of thought into this, it's a shame I can't say the same for Johns. His characterisation of the city is so heavy-handed it's ridiculous. While I like the idea of Central City as a fast city, Johns just doesn't let it go, describing it as 'The city always on the run.' We get it, The Flash lives here, it's a fast place, let it drop. I prefer the blue-collar industrial city of Keystone when it comes to The Flash. On the next page, Iris West, wife of Barry Allen is ordering coffee, we're told she's already had lots today. Thanks Johns, subtletly, I like it. Another thing that annoys me is that Iris is a journalist, yet she texts in abbreviated speak "Where r u?" which would annoy me anyway, but she has a Blackberry with a QWERTY keypad. It's a little thing, but this review's going to be full of that sort of stuff. I do like that Iris' icon is a little coffee cup and Barry's is a little bowtie, it's cute. I love Manapul's art on the next page, Iris' hair looks great as it gets swept up by The Flash running past, and Manapul really catches the look of love and pride on her face in the next panel. The next page, a two-page spread, is also fantastic. I was a bit worried when Manapul was announced because he drew pretty pictures of Superboy standing around in Adventure Comics, but I was unsure if he'd be able to catch the speed of The Flash, but he pulls it off perfectly. I also love the B-Movie style font used for the title of the issue "DC Comics Proudly Presents THE FLASH in: Case One: The Dastardly Death of The Rogues" It's a small, stylistic move by the letterer, but I love it.
Over the next few pages, we get some great action work from Manapul, as we see The Flash catch a bullet, knock a guy out, and then a fantastic panel where he rescues The Trickster and his goon, and dismantles the car all in midair before a beautiful spread of Barry bursting through the car parts. I love how Manpul draws faces, they're all so expressive. You can see their eyes really well, in a way that I reckon you could take the words out of this comic and still get the gist. The panel of The Barry standing in front of the kid is just perfect. "Hey kid. Name's THE FLASH. Nice to meet ya" before speeding off. Manapul draws The Flash as such an inspiration figure, which is exactly what he is. Out of the Justice League, the so-called 'Big 7' you have these five guys (Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter) who are all larger than life icons to the rest of the world, and then you have Batman, who's y'know, Batman, but then you have The Flash, whichever Flash, who's always there right down with the regular people, someone to really look up to. Great scene from both Johns and Manapul there.
Next we have Barry being late, again. Wouldn't it be great if Johns decided now that Barry has a second chance and everything he could want in life, to subvert expectations and have Barry be on time. It'd be a fun little moment as people are shocked to see him be so punctual. I like the bit about Weather Wizard raining off all the baseball games just to be a jerk, I chuckled. The next page has some fantastic panel composition, almost Williams III-esque with each letter in the word WANTED being a panel with a Rogue in each one, and a lightning bolt running in between the first three letters and the last, showing the Rogues currently on the loose planning, and Digger Harkness, recently revived Captain Boomerang, stewing in Iron Heights. I love that Iron Heights has the Rogues' names carved into the door, almost knowing that even if they get out, they'll be back eventually, so they'll keep the room free. I do not like Digger being back though, I miss Boomer Jr. Next, we get a mention of Barry's dead mother. I reall wish we could just forget this happened. I can see why Johns did it, but he could have ended Rebirth with Barry changing it back or something. Barry doesn't need this tragic origin, he's a cop and he's The Flash because it's the right thing to do. I don't know all too much about Barry, but it's one of his greatest features. Next page, another mention of Central City is fast. Apparently its motto is 'The faster, the better' I'm sure the women of Central City don't agree with that.
I'm just going to ignore this panel with all the cars in a hurry, and everyone running, and skating and such and move onto the weird shit. I love weird shit in The Flash, so this is starting to grab my attention. The Mirror Master is seemingly dead, and a strange flash of blue light preceded it, this could be interesting. Mirror Master's foot looks off though, slight artistic misstep from Manapul, but he can't be perfect. Next, we get some office interaction. Who taught Barry all this stuff, like how to use a Mac, and the latest CSI shit? He can't remember things at super-speed like Bart Allen can, surely he should take some courses after being away for so long? We get to meet some of Barry's co-workers, and the one that really stands out to me is David Singh, the Crime Lab Director. With that hair, that goatee and that attitude, the dude stepped straight out of an episode of 24. If CTU, I mean Central City Crime Lab, ever gets taken over by terrorists, that dude is so dead. I also find some of the dialogue here here awkward. "Where's Patty? Patty Spivot. Best analyst this department ever had." The way he works her last name in their seems forced, were Barry Allen fans really craving some closure on a supporting character not seen for 20 years? Another thing, friendly black dude who dishes out advice with less than a year until retirement? That dude, also, so dead.
I'm happy that Evan McCulloch isn't dead, as he's a great character, and I'd be annoyed at Johns for killing off such a high-profile Rogue for shock-value, so nice sidestep there Johns. I'll compliment you when you deserve it. I don't like that Iris has to remind Barry of Evan's name though, has he not done any research? I like the contrasting panels on the next page of Iris then and now. You can definitely tell it's supposed to be the same person, but you can also tell that she's come a long way and been through a lot. Wasn't 'FLSSH' the sound the Black Lantern rings made when they buzzed about? Anyway, next page. Probably art of the issue, Barry running down the street looks amazing, Manapul is definitely the best artist DC has at their disposal at the moment, without a doubt. Now the cliffhanger, I love it, I bloody love it so much. It's so 'The Flash' it's brilliant, a group of Rogue themed cops from the 25th Century (Prof Zoom's home time, btw) have come back to arrest Barry for a murder he hasn't commited yet. The costume designs look great, I especially like the Weather Wizard themed one. The final panel is cute as well, Iris recieves a text from Barry "I'm gonna be late." It kinda shows that Barry has been through so much of this bizzare shit in his life, that this really doesn't phaze him as much as it probably should.
The final two-pages are a teaser for an event called Flashpoint, which looks to be the big event for 2011. I'll wait until I know more about it, but I will say that maybe Johns has wrote too many events for DC and it's someone else's turn, and that Andy Kubert is the lesser Kubert brother in my opinion.
Overall, this issue had some problems, but that's because I'm very, very picky when it comes to The Flash. It ended very, very well and leaves me hopeful for where this is going. I'd definitely recommend it, and I'm excited for what's in Barry's future.