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Back at Work

May 14, 2010

     At long last, the new Flash series, the one for which we’ve been waiting for months, has arrived.  The Flash #1 starts off rather amusingly, with Iris Allen getting coffee and waiting for her husband.  Then, prompted by a text, she turns around to see the Trickster riding off in a car, and Barry Allen running after it.  Barry manages to catch the Trickster and his accomplice, and when their car goes careening off the end of an unfinished freeway, he deconstructs the car at superspeed, saving the construction workers just underneath it.  He then runs off to work, where his boss complains about the Rogues and reminds Allen that both the Rogues and cops are territorial.  He introduces him to the crime lab folks, while elsewhere, in a park, Mirror Master’s dead body falls out of some kind of energy portal.  Allen’s old pal and coworker, James Forrest, says hello.  He’s the only member of the old team that’s still there, but he’s retiring soon.  The head of the lab tells Allen to go investigate Mirror Master’s body, and when Allen goes, he notices that the person under the mask looks nothing like Evan McCulloch or Sam Scudder.  Iris shows up and asks him questions, but he reminds her that they promised that everything between them would be off the record, so he can’t give her that kind of in-public inside info she’s looking for on the murder.  Then, the police get a call about another portal opening up somewhere else, and Barry goes to investigate in costume.  When he arrives, five people, loking like different versions of Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, the Trickster, and the Top come out of the portal.  They all bear police badges, and they claim that they are there to arrest him for the murder of the Mirror Master look-alike, because he’s going to kill said person in the near future.  Then, in a very Geoff Johns kind of teaser, we get a look at the first major storyline for the series, called Flashpoint, coming next year.

     Well, that was a very fun beginning to this new series.  Johns realy won me over with Barry Allen and where he’s taking the Flash franchise in the Flash: Rebirth, and this series is already proving to be as fun as I had hoped.  The Flash isn’t supposed to be as dark as other franchises, and it’s nice that Johns is keeping it that way.  Unfortunately, there’s a core problem with the series, one that other reviewers have addressed.  In this issue, Barry Allen’s personality didn’t really shine through much.  In fact, it could have easily been Wally West and Linda Park replacing Barry and Iris.  Sure, they would have had to take Wally out of the crime lab, but the general point is that, in comparison to his work with Green Lantern, Johns isn’t characterizing Barry as sharply as he does Hal Jordan.  That’s going to be a problem for the future, because no matter how fun the stories are, the main character of a tale has to be likable and interesting.  So Johns is going to have to rely on better characterization, and not just the fun-ness of the story.  Of course, it’s still a really fun story.  And Francis Manapul’s art is just great.  He really reminds me of Michael Ryan, a personal favorite artist of mine from back when I was younger, so I really like that.  His faces are really filled with emotion, and he’s defintely proving to be able to charge the Flash’s running and motion with a lot of kinetic energy, which is necessary for a Flash artist.   I am excited for Flashpoint next year too, even if Andy Kubert’s art in the teaser wasn’t as good as I know his can be.  So this was a fun opening issue, but Johns will have to deal with that problem down the road.  For now, let’s see how his opening arc measures up.

Plot: 8.8      Art: 9.3      Dialogue: 8.7      Overall: 8.8

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