Wednesday, 15 August 2012

DC Universe Presents #12: Kid Flash review

Kid Flash takes over DC's showcase title for a fun romp featuring dinosaur teens.

Well, why ever not? Teen Titans is part of DC's Young Justice line, meant to appeal to younger readers. And what kid doesn't love dinosaurs? They're giving Bart Allen trouble in this single-issue special, but even he thinks they're cool.

The Saurians - pterodactyl girl Dac, Steg the stegosaurus boy and Teryx the, er, Hoodiesaurus kid - stowed away when the Teen Titans escaped the mysterious Mystery Island. Now they're in New York and looking for fun. Unfortunately, for one of them, 'fun' equates to turning the human race into hybrid 'dinosoids' with his mutagenic mists - oh yes, we're talking evil genius dino-teen.

When Dinosaurs Walked the Earth (That Would Be Today) is wilfully daft, making it lots better than many comics on the stands, which are just daft because they're overreaching. And while this issue is daft, it's a long way from stupid. Because Fabian Nicieza is writing, and he's one of the smartest, funniest mainstream writers around. What this means is that he takes Scott Lobdell's characterisation of Bart from Teen Titans and perfects it. Bart's essential light-heartedness remains, but the emphasis is on his brains and heart - never mind the fastest, this is the most empathetic boy alive.

Which isn't to say the super-speed stunts are neglected. Bart does everything from rebounding over the streets of New York to sorting out a tangled washing line (listed in order of impressiveness). Away from the Teen Titans, we see that there's not a lot he can't handle - frankly, I think Wonder Girl, Red Robin and the rest are holding him back!

For about ten seconds I was annoyed that we were being told stuff about Mystery Island that I'm pretty sure wasn't explained in Teen Titans, but then Bart puts things in perspectiive.
And he follows up with some top Chinese takeaway jokes, which went nicely with my 'obviously-left-over-from-last-night-and-reheated-by-China-Palace-cos-they're rock-hard' chicken balls. Then Bart addresses his bad rep with the NYPD, showing that's he cares that people know he's a decent kid. And finally, there's a Q the Winged Serpent nod, which is always good.

I'd be happy for the Serpent Teens (my name, and far better, obviously) to stick around, with one joining the Titans and the other two getting punched regularly. We'll definitely see them again soon, as this story continues in Teen Titans #12, and I only hope it's the fun ride this is.

The art of Jorge Jimenez is very attractive, all fluid lines and dynamic compositions. I don't think I've ever seen the revamped Bart's super-speed look so good on the page. Credit for this must be shared with Guy Major, who turns in one of the best colouring jobs I've seen from him, and it's not as if his work isn't always excellent. The tones are wonderfully well-balanced throughout, complementing Jimenez' lovely illustrations. Especially impressive is that we can 'read' Bart even though his eyes are hidden behind his mask. I'd love Jimenez and Major to work together regularly on some book or other.

Heck, I'd take a Kid Flash series on this basis of this issue. He's more focused than adult Flash Barry Allen, has a great sense of humour and isn't tied to echoing ancient continuity beats - Bart can go anywhere.

The only thing I don't love about this issue is the cover. Ryan Sook is a favourite, but his Bart looks too washed out. It's a terrific composition though, pretty spectacular on its own terms. Then there's the logo - the 'Kid' added to Barry's 'Flash' looks to be wrongly angled at the bottom. That's the sort of thing Bart would fix ...

10 comments:

  1. I didn't check out this issue due to budget reasons. Nice to hear it turned out well. Will you be continuning with the next arc with Black Lighting and Blue Devil teaming up? Sounds pretty interesting, especially with the writer of Manhunter on it.

    Just 1 question, if you finished it, how was the rest of Vandal Savage arc in DCUP?

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    1. I can never resist Blue Devil, and it'll be interesting to see this year's take on Black Lightning.

      And the Savage arc finished well.

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    2. True dat on Blue Devil, I read his first issue as a kid and loved the series, and I've enjoyed later depictions of him.

      I've got nothing against Kid Flash, but he already gets time in Teen Titans and their various crossovers. I'd rather see DC Universe Presents stick with characters who are not being covered elsewhere.

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    3. I usually agree with that last point, but for a single issue I'm good to see how one of my old favourites (well, Bart in his Impulse days) operates in the solo spotlight. And while this obviously isn't trying for the Impulse vibe, as Kid Flashes go, this Bart seems a good 'un.

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  2. Meh. Although I guess I kind of appreciate that line about "Continuity doesn't really matter." It does and it doesn't for me, especially in light of this horrible and dreadfully unnecessary reboot. That being said I'm kind of interested in seeing how the next arc with Rebooted Blue Devil and Black Lighting goes. I know BL creator Tony Isabella is dead-set against it, and if he was privy to what's going down with this version of his creation, then it'll really make for an interesting read.

    So, you like your balls heated up and cold huh?:)

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    1. I harp on enough about continuity that you likely know I agree with you, Dale. But Nicieza had no part in the presentation of the Culling. I suspect he realised we were missing a few jigsaw pieces and decided to make the best of a bad job, what with Bart being a light-hearted type.

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  3. Why has Bart got Beast Boy's voice & personality?

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    1. I'm not sure, Paul - any idea if Gar is using them over in Ravagers?

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  4. I didn't realize that the "DC Universe Presents" had transitioned from Vandal Savage--shows how touch I am! I will have to grab this one next time I'm out and about.

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    1. Hope you enjoy it when you do - there is a bit of linkage from Teen Titans #11 and into #12, but it's nothing you really need.

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