Barry Allen and Wally West, in their Flash costumes, are having a massive argument.
Flashback. ‘Forty-seven minutes and 18 seconds earlier’, Iris West is cementing her status as Earth’s coolest aunt by fixing the motorcycle Wally’s cousin, also named Wally and also a speedster, Kid Flash, couldn’t.
The two Flashes show up, having teamed up - awkwardly, it seems - to save the island nation of Badhnisia from a tidal wave. They deserve a spot of downtime, but the elder Wally, recently assailed by visions of his old life from before the Flashpoint event tweaked reality, has another painful flash of memory.
But assistance from the brainiacs at STAR Labs isn’t in his immediate future. It’s the distant future the Wests have to worry about.
The 25th Century Renegades are here for Iris, who recently - from her perspective, anyway - killed Reverse-Flash Eobard Thawne in self-defence. Wally, unable to remember their previous encounter years earlier, isn’t going to trust his aunt’s life to people who look like a tribute act to the Flash Family’s worst enemies. This prompts the law office patterned on the Golden Glider to show that she’s actually got more in common with a big-time supervillain not attached to any of the Flashes...
There’s a lot more to this issue than I’ve recapped; I strongly recommend you buy it to find out more. DC have been teasing the Flash War story for awhile and I’ve not been hugely enthusiastic about the prospect - Barry was the father Wally never had, so I don’t want their great relationship shattered. But here’s the first chapter and it’s a terrific superhero comic. Writer Joshua Williamson looks to have plotted this new arc out to within an inch of its life, and the first chapter is a real grabber. Wally, Barry, Iris and Other Wally’s distinctive personalities shine, with everyone acting in a way that’s consistent with recent history. I say ‘recent’ because this is, yet isn’t, the Wally West who was the DC Universe’s only Flash from the Crisis on Infinite Earths to the return of Barry Allen. He’s the same guy, but he hasn’t the memories that make him the man he became - Earth’s greatest Flash, surpassing those speedsters who came before him. Right now, he can’t recall such basic super speed tricks as to how to run on water, or damp down a tsunami.
Talking of previous speedsters, towards the close of the book we’re told where the likes of Max Mercury, Johnny Quick and Wally’s twins have been since they vanished from the pages of DC Comics. It all links to the great DC Rebirth mystery of who stole ten years from DC’s heroes. Given it’s been two years, in reader time, since we got the set-up, with Wally escaping the Speed Force and getting on the path towards reclaiming his life, I’m delighted there’s some forward movement towards a resolution. If the road towards a happy ending - or at least a better status quo for Wally - is bumpy so far as his relationship with Barry is concerned, I can take it. I know it’ll be all right in the end - and if it’s not all right, then it’s not the end (™️Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review).
The art is a total treat, courtesy of illustrator Howard Porter and colour house Hi-Fi - the pages are abuzz with a sense of speed, helped by the high-energy colours. From the intensity of the opening argument to the drama promised by the final page, this is a fine-looking story. The figurework, backgrounds, choice of angles and fight choreography are all superb - I never want Porter to stop drawing comics, but I really hope he teaches the occasional class of up and comers, passes on his skills and insight. It’s tough to pick a favourite sequence, but I do love the scene between younger Wally and Iris (who’s wearing a Secrets of Haunted House #5 tee shirt, in a nice tribute to artist Bernie Wrightson).
Porter really brings suburbia to life, and establishes aunt and nephew as living, breathing people. As for the narrative content of that scene, not only do I love that Iris shares original Wally’s mechanic chops, but who knew she’d reported from Markovia, setting for many a Batman and the Outsiders tale? I also enjoyed the reference to Badhnisia, a DC locale linked to the origin of Golden Ager Johnny Thunder, whom Wally met in the DC Rebirth special. Both are nice nods to DC history unlikely to confuse anyone who doesn’t ‘get’ them, but they enrich the experience for us old timers. I like how feisty and all-round sane Iris is - really, she’s the star of the show this time.
Steve Wands deserves thanks, too, for all-round strong lettering, and a smart use of the font which seems to salute classic DC lettering designer Ira Schnapp.
Porter and Hi-Fi also collaborate on the cover, which prepares us for the conflict to come in glorious style. As for Francesco Mattina’s variant, it’s all kinds of classy.
With Flash being one of DC’s biweekly books we won’t have long to wait to see what comes next. Bring it on - this has been a high-quality series since the beginning of the run, but it’s just gone up a notch.
The Flash #47 review, Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Hi-Fi, Francesco Mattina, Steve Wands, DC Comics, Barry Allen, Wally West, Iris West