Thursday, 19 November 2009

Flash: Rebirth #5 review

The eeeeevil Professor Zoom faces off against more good super-speedsters than you can shake a winged helmet at at an issue with the wow factor on pretty much every Flash-packed page. There are character moments, story revelations, costume changes, power tweaks . . . the speed trick writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver pull off here is to have me not knowing whether to race to the end of the issue or slow down to savour the goodness.

Johns is positioning his characters for the post-Rebirth launch of the new Flash and Kid Flash books, so Wally West's latest costume debuts and it turns out to be his old one, the dark, shiny Speed Force-generated number. Well, with added nose. I never saw that coming for a minute. Mind, Wally's lightning bolt has only a zig and a zag, rather than the old zig-zag-zig; the effect is of a stylised S, so I wonder if he'll be getting a shiny new name despite DC's pointing out that we've had simultaneous Green Lanterns and, indeed, Flashes for years. Yup, it's probably just one more point of differentiation rather than anything significant.

Any fears that Barry's return will sideline the speedsters who ran with the torch in his absence look to be groundless as Johns delights in showing their coolness. Almost every member of the Flash family has a chance to shine this issue, displaying courage, ingenuity and heart. And the interplay between the four foremost Flashes - Jay, Barry, Wally and Bart - is natural and smart.

The big revelation this issue - the truth behind the murder of Barry Allen's mother - has me wishing Johns were handy so I could apologise for my lack of faith. I was fuming when issue #1 of this mini laid out the tragedy of Henry and Nora Allen, as it directly contradicted a continuity that had never been tweaked by the original Crisis or its descendants('My name is Martin. I am a fanboy'). But here we learn that the memory mangling is all part of the picture and perfectly in line with the DCU's house rules and Professor Zoom's MO. It's actually rather brilliant and while I severely doubt he'll ever hear of it, and I can't imagine any reason he'd give a darn, I'll feel better if I say: Geoff Johns, I apologise. You said to trust you, and I didn't.

From the cover, a stylish homage cover to the Silver Age's Flash #123, onward, Van Sciver carries his share of the storytelling. There are loads of characters here with basically the same powers, but the artist keeps everyone's moves distinctive. The storytelling never flags and the several splashes earn their keep. I can't remember ever reading a comic and hoping for more full-page illos and spreads, but as the story beats got bigger and sexier I wanted the art to match. And it did.

The only thing I didn't like was the floating energy chest logos inspired by Van Sciver's redesign of Green Lantern costume conventions - Jay's fat shiny lightning bolt looks appalling. But the effect soon goes and my blanket whinge is rather punctured by the clever, visually attractive application of the Speed Force energy crackle to Jesse Chambers' Liberty Belle outfit.

Hi-Fi's Brian Miller makes the art pop, and Rob Leigh keeps the wonderfully wordy script legible. Veteran editor Joey Cavalieri deserves a sackful of credit for putting this team together.

There's one more issue to go and I'm rather optimistic. I won't be at all surprised if my memories of Barry's parents become relevant once more, before the various Flashes and sub-Flashes race off into new adventures. Flash fact.

1 comment:

  1. So which old Flash suit is Wally wearing? The awesome Greg LaRoque one he got while fighting Gorilla Grodd, or the "Wallace West" alternate Earth suit that Paul Pelletier drew? I actually liked both, but I really loved that shiny one from LaRoque.

    I'm trade-waiting on this series, so I guess I'm off to spoil that for myself!

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