Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Flash #9 review


There's a new speedster in town, but this one doesn't run, he rides a motorcycle. A decidedly futuristic, demonic-looking motorcycle that shatters the peace of the Central City evening. You might think this would bring Barry Allen running, but we don't catch up with him until next morning - the previous night he was fighting Gorilla Grodd. Sent to check out an unexplained death, Barry finds a man in his nineties in a suit resembling one the late Ralph Dibny - Elongated Man - once wore.

Meanwhile, wife Iris is in the park with nephew Wally West, his other half Linda, their kids Jai and Irey, grandson Bart and friends Jay and Joan Garrick - that's three Flashes and loved ones. They were expecting Barry to join them for a picnic, but he's using the new case as an excuse not to show his face. He's been feeling awkward around family of late.

Tests reveal that the corpse is the Elongated ... Kid, sixteen-year-old Ethan Kramer, perhaps aged by a reaction to stretching serum Gingold. Barry calls his old lab partner Patty Spivot, the best blood analyst he knows, now based in Wally's old Midwest home of Blue Valley after tiring of big city crime. But she's not answering the phone. 

Barry's still pondering the mystery of the Elongated corpse when a sudden power outage heralds the arrival of the man he'll come to know as Hot Pursuit. And he's very familiar. 

This is an issue to treasure. There's an intriguing mystery linked to Ralph Dibny, one of Barry's oldest friends. A cameo by Wally, Barry's successor but barely seen since his return from death. The first inkling of events that will instigate the Flashpoint crossover. And best of all, the promise of Patty Spivot!

A few pages, rather than a single gorgeous, teasing panel, of Barry battling Grodd would have been nice - the super-gorilla's been all over the DC Universe over the last few years, facing everyone but his greatest foe. Still, there's so much else going on that I shan't be be crabbitt. Especially when we're specifically told that the reason Barry is miserable is the death of his mother, something he knows is due to time being changed by Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. As Flashpoint is all about altered realities there's reason to hope its aftermath will restore his timeline, motivating him to cheer up and giving Iris her husband back.

Geoff Johns' script hits all the right notes, setting up events for the next few issues and the massive crossover to follow, developing Barry's cop colleagues and - finally - reintroducing his fellow speedsters to the book. And the lack of Rogues is refreshing.

The artwork by Francis Manapul is a treat: the reader is at Barry's side as he examines the corpse of Elongated Kid, while the colours of Brian Buccellatto add to the crime scene's eerie aspect. There's a lovely carefree air to the park sequence, with the mood turning sombre as Iris tries to get her husband to open up about why he's distancing himself from her. And the meeting of Barry and Hot Pursuit revs up the momentum and guarantees I'll be back next issue. Despite the latter's tragic name.

The DC icons cover by Manapul and Buccellatto is attractive, if not exactly novel, but when the remit is 'iconic Flash pose' what else are artists to do?

7 comments:

  1. very nice. I enjoyed this issue for sure, but my review doesn't give it as much of a shining tribute. I found myself a little empty at the end, but that could be because I wasn't expecting so much content. It's really loaded down with emotional drama; family troubles, 16 year old wrinkly kids dying of old age, and futuristic doppelgangers showing up...it was kind of overwhelming to me. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn't Geoff's best work.

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  2. I'm never going to complain about too much content!

    Anyway, I recommend everyone clicks through your name and gets your review, if they've not already read it. Quick link:

    http://thehereticsblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/comic-book-review-flash-9.html

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  3. I've not been bowled over by this Flash title. It's perfectly readable but It seems to be struggling for an identity and working too hard to make Barry Allen 'interesting', I think one problem is that like Clark Kent Barry is actually not very complicated to understand but the writers can't deal with that fact.

    Another issue is the constant recycling of old ideas such as the Rogues Gallery, Reverse-Flash, Time-Travel and a corrupt future - I was never a regular reader of the Barry Allen years but everything I do know about his original book is summed up right there! Even Hot Pursuit is a variation on Wally Wests 'Dark Flash' circa the Chain Lightning storyline...
    Flashpoint is clearly an attempt to put him on the map, but it leaves me cold. Again weve seen it all before, its a comics cliche and worse of all a deplorable excuse to try and sell an onslaught of tie-in books no ones actually interested in.
    I'll be sitting Flashpoint out and in all honesty I'm not sure I'll be coming back to The Flash until something interesting and original happens.

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  4. No arguments from me on how tiresome the time twisting plots can be, Dave - and it's not as if time travel storylines were ever a huge part of Barry's original run. There were occasional tales involving Iris being born in the future, and time-travelling enemies Professor Zoom and Abra Cadabra, but Flash was never considered a time travel book. Make it stop ...

    ... but first. I'm OK if this coming DC event brings Nora back and sets poor Henry free.

    After that, yes please to Flash going in a new direction. Make me stop regretting the loss of Wally's book.

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  5. I agree with he Time Travel -- I hope Barry can set things right, and somehow set it in stone. And I have to admit some disappointment -- I was hoping Hot Pursuit was an honest-to-goodness new character, something the increasing inbred DCU doesn't see enough of. But no, it's somehow someone we already know.

    But my real question is: what is it about Patty Spivot that makes my heart go aflutter? I swear, I'm looking forward to her return more than I was looking forward to Barry's.

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  6. Well, she has brains and sexy specs. I'm still waiting for her team-up book with Enrichetta Negrini, Lab Rats of Prey.

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