I’ve got very mixed reactions on the latest issue of The Flash. On one-hand the new creative team offers up a storyline involving the theft of Central City villain weapons leading to a future peek at an old-style Mirror Master adventure complete with original costume, gun and hall of mirrors. Set 16 years in the future (is that how long we have to wait for The Rogues to be cool again?), and the future version of Barry Allen working his way back through time, it’s the strongest part of the comic by far.
Sadly the current storyline, other than Barry discovering the theft of the weapons, leaves much to be desired. Brett Booth’s choice to feature that awful yellow piping of the Flash’s costume in every frame goes from distracting to downright infuriating before long. And the continuing B-story does nothing to sell me on the New 52 Wally West who continues to share far too many bad traits with the rebooted schmuck version of Billy Batson. The cover is also one of the weakest of the series, however if you want to spend some extra cash you can shell out for Mike Allred‘s fun classic-style variant. Hit-and-Miss.
- Title: The Flash
- IMDB: link
With this extended trailer we now have our first real look at The Flash which has officially been picked up by the CW and will air on Tuesday nights at 8/7 Central starting this Fall. Introduced on this season of Arrow, the spin-off stars Grant Gustin as CSI investigator Barry Allen who after nine months in a coma awakes to discover he has become the Fastest Man Alive. Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton, and Carlos Valdes also star.
The Flash Annual #3 is confusing on a number of levels as the new creative team cement their storyline of a future version of Barry Allen deciding to return to the past and set things right. Introducing us to Wallace “Wally” R. West for the first time its obvious the character has gone through the same New 52 filter that continues to adversely effect several of DC’s once-great heroes.
While I’m fine with DC deciding to change Wally’s ethnicity from Caucasian to African-American, it does create problems for Iris West as even in this issue’s artists Brett Booth and Ron Frenz have trouble deciding just how to draw and shade her color her character consistently. I honestly couldn’t tell you at this point whether Iris is white, black, or green.
Far more troubling is that Wally has gone through the same dickish redesign the makes the New 52 Billy Batson an insufferable prick. This version of the character’s defining attribute seems to be that he’s a street punk in need of a white big brother to set him straight. Jeez.
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Time travel and the character’s relationship with the passage of the time have long bee staples of the Flash comic storylines over the years. Beginning with something as innocuous as a new watch, The Flash‘s new writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen begin to examine the idea for the first time in the New 52.
For those, like me, who have totally ignored DC’s Forever Evil event the beginning of the issue, jumping us into a wrecked Central City, is more than a little confusing. The amount of damage to the city is extensive which leaves the Flash constantly needed. Although putting too much emphasis on those awful yellow streaks in the character’s costume, new artist Brett Booth proves up to the task in showing off the Scarlet Speedster, particularly in a sequence where Barry uses his super-speed to keep cutting out of his psychological evaluation to save people.
Those expecting the first appearance of a blue-clad Wally West are going to be disappointed. Although the comic does end with a scene of a future Flash, it’s Barry Allen not Wally who is consumed with past mistakes and obsessed with the passage of time.
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The Flash‘s two-issue team-up with Deadman comes a close as the Scarlet Speedster fights off the Keystone Killer who discovers the hero is the perfect new host for the evil spirit. There’s less Deadman this time around and more dancing around the subject of Barry’s true parentage until the reveal that proves the teases were just that and that there is no blood connection between Barry and his mentor Captain Frye.
Agustin Padilla’s art seems a little more suited to the character than that of Patrick Zircher from last month’s issue, and given the ghost and the unusual team-up the two-part story does feel like something of a throwback issue to the Silver Age days.
Using his speed to shake off the killer as he had done with Deadman in the previous issue, the Flash wins the day but the issue does offer a final scene between Frye and Barry’s father suggesting the truth behind the murder of Barry’s mother is far more complicated than anyone knows. Worth a look.
- Title: Justice League: War
- IMDB: link
Based on DC Comics’ New 52 reboot and the first arc of the current Justice League series by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, Justice League: War isn’t as awful as I suspected. It’s not actually a good movie, but most of the issues here have to do with the source material itself rather than any mistakes in the adaptation into the film.
Replacing the missing Aquaman with Captain Marvel (Sean Astin), who I still refuse to call him Shazam, the storyline is basically intact as the various heroes of the Justice League come together to defeat Darkseid (Steve Blum) and the invading armies of Apokolips. As with Lee’s original designs, everything looks and feels too muted including the super-hero costumes, particularly those of Superman (Alan Tudyk) and Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan), that lack any pop. And although (thankfully) the film chooses to stay away from that awful yellow piping on the Flash‘s (Christopher Gorham) costume we saw at the end of The Flashpoint Paradox, Green Lantern (Justin Kirk) is still stuck with the unnecessary light-up pieces of his costume.
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After unintentionally releasing a spirit of vengeance and murder from his prison, the Flash teams up with Deadman to fight the Keystone Killer who plans on returning to his murderous ways by hunting down the surviving descendants of his original victims.
Offering no closure for Barry as the Fastest Man Alive learns the vengeful spirit had no hand in his mother’s death, the odd ghost story does allow for an unique team-up of heroes we normally wouldn’t see together. And although I like my Boston Brand a little more whimsical, the character is put to good use here (even if it feels like the storyline is being unnecessarily drawn out for one more month).
The issue’s backstory (without an ounce of subtlety) continues to suggest that the man Barry knows as his father isn’t who he thinks he is (in more ways than one). Patrick Zircher’s art is okay but doesn’t do much to add any flair to the storyline. For fans.
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Writer Brian Buccellato delves into the Flash‘s past with the discovery of grave filled with the victims of the city’s serial killer from two decades ago. Barry does a little investigating on his own and discovers the timeline and the man’s choice of victim point to what he believes may be the real killer behind his mother’s murder (which his father is still serving a jail sentence for).
First, although I’m still missing those beautiful splash pages from Francis Manapul, I want to thank artist Patrick Zircher for the minimalist approach to the New 52 version of our hero’s costume by only filling in the yellow piping when the Flash is in action. I can actual enjoy looking at the character again!
I don’t need Barry Allen needs a dark origin story help round him out as a character, but the issue does a good job of showcasing the drive that was born in him years ago. Although the reactions his captain and his father make me wonder if the comic is going to make his father ultimately responsible for the murder, I’m still holding out hope for Professor Zoom. Worth a look.
- Title: JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
- IMDB: link
Aimed more to a kid-friendly all-ages audience than the much more publicized Justice League: War release, and available only at Target (as a tie-in to the store’s JLA toy line), JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time proves to be a hell of a lot of fun. Rather than adapting an existing mini-series or comic arc (which seems all that DC has been interested in lately), Trapped in Time offers an original adventure from screenwriter Michael Ryan and director Giancarlo Volpe that’s a bit of a throwback to the old Super Friends days.
The straight-to-DVD adventure begins with the Legion of Doom‘s latest plan of world conquest by expanding the polar ice caps which leaves Lex Luthor (Fred Tatasciore) stuck in ice for hundreds of years before his frozen remains are eventually discovered. Accidentally released by two junior members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Lex uses the knowledge and technology of the future to return to the past with a plan to stop the Justice League from ever forming by attacking Superman while he was still an infant.
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