Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Flash #1 - A Review

I wasn’t looking forward to The Flash #1. At all. This is because I don’t like Barry Allen. At all. I think bringing him back from the dead was a mistake and that making him the star of the all-new, revamped The Flash is an even bigger mistake. So perhaps anything I say about this book should be taken with a grain of salt.

But wait a moment - maybe I’m rushing to judgment? Maybe I should try harder to keep an open mind? After all, most of the reasons I dislike the character are based on past continuity. Maybe the stogy old hypocrite who annoyed me in The Fall of Green Arrow will be a changed man? Maybe the self-centered jackass whose mommy issues nearly destroyed all reality in Flashpoint will be less of a whiny man-child? Perhaps Barry Allen will be reborn as a younger, hipper more modern hero?

Sadly, about the only thing that has changed is that Barry Allen has now loosened up enough to go out on dates without a tie. He’s also going out on dates, his marriage to Iris West having gone the way of parachute pants and Disco.

On the bright side, Iris West – long the perfect smiling Stepford Wife – has finally been given a personality. True, it is the personality of Lois Lane – but at least it’s a good personality, if not totally original. There’s a Betty & Veronica-style love-triangle, with Iris in the Veronica role. Who is the Betty? Patty - one of Barry’s fellow CSI officers.

The issue wastes no time on origin stories or details save for a two-page splash that gives us Barry Allen’s origins. The plot of this first issue is standard stuff for The Flash. Bad guys show up to steal something. Barry disappears. The Flash appears and chases the bad guys. The Flash runs off. Barry shows up again. And nobody seems to notice Barry was gone. The only original twist in Francis Manapul’s and Brian Buccellato’s script is the revelation that The Flash may have accidentally killed someone but even this turns out to be a red-herring as Barry discovers a new villain who is also a ghost from his past…

The artwork by Francis Manapul – with Brian Buccellato on colors – is competent but ultimately as pedestrian as the script. I expect a Flash comic to move and this comic – for all the pretty lightning – is surprisingly static. There’s barely any Flash in it at all and there’s only so much one can do to make scenes in offices and museums where talking heads talk to other talking heads interesting.

I wasn’t expecting much of this book and I wasn’t surprised. I don’t hate Barry Allen anymore – now I’m just bored by him. This isn’t really all that bad of a comic but neither is it as good as it should be with the talent involved. It’s strictly average, with a standard script and artwork that is merely competent. Perhaps Barry Allen fans will be pleased by this book but I wasn’t.

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