The Flash #30 review

The new Flash creative team of writers Robert Venditti & Van Jensen, and penciller Brett Booth debut and straight away ... dismay me.

They open with a flashforward to five years in the future, when things are looking distinctly gloomy for our hero because, well, don't they always? I really don't care what's happening with Flash in a potential future. We've most of us read the X-Men's Days of Future Past, that was a brilliant story, original for comics, but the 'something's wrong with the future' bit has been done to death since then (not least in the X-Men comics themselves). There's no tension in this trampled trope - a defining event is changed, but the multiverse means that while the bad future is averted for the version of the characters we follow, it survives as a sliver of time. Which is depressing - the heroes win, but they lose.

Plus, aren't we already booked in for a Five Years Later trip during DC's upcoming September stunt? Either we're a bit premature, or Flash is getting a different potential future. Which makes as much sense as anything, I suppose.

Flash #30 instantly improves when it joins the Now. Central City is a mess after the events of Forever Evil, but on a personal level, things are looking up for Barry Allen. He's set to be reinstated as a full-time member of the crime lab after a temporary demotion. All he has to do is get the nod from sinisterly named police psychiatrist Rebecca Janus, who's seeing pretty much every law person in the city following the trauma of 'the Crime Syndicate's wave of terror'.

Girlfriend Patty Spivot gives Barry a new watch in a bid to improve his constant tardiness. Which seems ridiculous - she knows Barry has responsibilities both as a cop and a superhero, yet she's asking him to, basically, wear a nag on his wrist. By the end of the issue the movement is losing time, a clue to something or other - remember the unmotivated close-ups on a prison guard's watch in issue 24 that had me scratching my head mid-review
That never went anywhere, and that watch seemed to be losing time too.

There's no hero vs villain action this time, though we do see Flash good-deeding around the city, rebuilding both buildings and morale, in a well-worked sequence. 

The world's ugliest dog aside, it's a good-looking piece of storytelling, though the set-up is a tad confusing. So far as I can tell, Barry is skipping out on Dr Janus between words, but it starts with him seemingly looking at himself through the window. As a Flash fan of >cough< years standing, I should be able to 'read' visuals involving Flash's speed trails, but reminding me about time-travelling Flashes at the start of this issue caused me to wonder if another version of Barry was popping up.

That's a rare negative in Booth's art, which is inked by the always strong Norm Rapmund, coloured by Andrew Dalhouse and lettered by Dezi Sienty. I love how hard they've worked on Central City, right down to giving us buildings reflecting other buildings. I especially like their dapper Barry, while Flash is very much on New 52 model - constantly set to be strangled by his dangling electricity. Please DC, the Flash, with his after-images and speed trail, doesn't need another special effect, especially one that's nothing more than visual migraine.

Booth also gives is a decent Patty Spivot, while Jensen and Venditti write her puzzling relationship with Barry well - she's passive aggressive, he's apparently too lazy to pursue Iris West, who actually makes him smile. I'm rather amazed, too, that DC are allowing Barry and Patty to live together, given the edict against tying heroes down in marriage-style relationships. It seems that either Aquaman and Animal Man aren't the only exceptions, or Dan DiDio hasn't actually noticed. 

There's a nice nod towards the original, Silver Age Barry's death in Crisis in Infinite Earths which may be the creative team's way of saying they're going their own way. We shall see.

We have a man with a top hat in one frame, which had me wondering if DC's sole topper fan, the Shade, was on his way. I'd show you the panel, but you'd likely mock me.

I like Booth, Rapmund and Dalhouse's cover, which tells a little story. 

The biggest talking point of this issue will likely be the debut of the New 52 Wally West. It's purely a technical deal, as this Wally is dead both in the gloomy flashforward that opens the issue, and the gloomier flashfurtherforward that closes it. All we know is that Wally's no longer a white guy, he's black because that's how he's been cast on the upcoming TV series. 

Overall, an intriguing, solid 'first issue'. It's not as exciting story-wise or visually as the immediate fill-in issues by Brian Buccellato, Patrick Zircher and Agustin Padilla, but certainly good enough to keep me reading.

But will I be reading 'five years from now'? Find out in September.


  1. Wally hasn't been cast,people figure when he does show up he will be because they cast iris and her father as black.

  2. I liked Robert Vendetti's writing on Demon Knights enough that I had high hopes for this issue, despite not tending to like Brett Booth's work. Unfortunately, there are some signs that the pair haven't quite clicked yet. The scene with Forrest on the park bench, for instance, could have been handled with much more subtlety -- the intentions to do so seem to be there. But instead, possibly because of the angle and distance from which he was drawn, he was given a spectacularly ham-handed dialogue balloon to get to point across. ("Sob sob... so many dead... sob!") I suspect that was a moment Venditti would have preferred to handle more quietly, but the art didn't allow that. (And possibly his script was too packed to allow Booth to take more of a moment to focus on Forrest, as well. It takes two to tango.) Hopefully these rough edges will subside, or Vendetti will find a collaborator more suited to what he's trying to do.

    Then again, Vendetti named the counselor "Dr. Janus," so perhaps subtlety's not what he's aiming for. We'll see where that goes, but nowhere good, I suspect.

    As for Wally, I look forward to meeting him. Black, white, dead in the future or not, none of that tells me a whole lot. Next week's annual will hopefully give us a lot more in that regard.

  3. You weren't impressed by the Forrest scene? >sob< The dialogue there was a bit rich, maybe the odd >snif< or! better still! let Booth do the heavy lifting there.

    Let's hope the early kinks get worked out, Rob.


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