Review of The Flash issue #44 (spoilers)

After being “out” of comics for around 6 years, outside of the occasional trade paperback that  would fall into my lap at Christmas or a friend’s house, I made my way into my local comic book store today.  I took a look around and to my complete lack of surprise, I saw that the new issue of The Flash was out. After grabbing it, and a couple of extra goodies, I was out the door and ready to see what has been going on in Flash lately.

Writers: Robert Venditti, Van Jensen

Penciller: Brett Booth

Inker: Norm Rapmund

Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse

Publisher: DC COMICS

Last time on…..

Sadly, there isn’t a recap page in this issue to let us know what’s happened in the previous few issues. Fortunately, Venditti and Jensen are of the mindset that every issue is somebody’s first, and we get caught up pretty quickly as to what’s going on. There were a few changes for me to adjust to since the last time I read a Flash comic.  Every character’s age has been lowered by at least 10 years, Wally West is African American, Barry doesn’t know who Thawne is, and Thawne’s powers are now based on time distortion like Hunter Zolomon Zoom.  

 Story

In short order we find out that Professor Zoom has kidnapped Barry’s dad and has formed a group of villains with time and speed based powers to ruin the Flash’s life before killing him. We check in with Barry’s supporting cast and meet his boss, Director Singh, who is dating the reformed criminal Hartly Rathaway (Pied Piper). They are having an argument about Hartly coming to visit Singh at work. In a nice twist, it’s not that Singh is afraid of being outed as gay, but that as a police officer, dating a criminal could end his career. Barry meets up with Wally West, Iris’ nephew, who is starting a work study program at the same precinct at which Barry works. Wally is apparently a bit of a trouble maker but is enthusiastic about the program. We find out that two of Professors Zoom’s cohorts have set a trap for Barry at the police station and enclose him, along with everyone in the precinct, in a barrier that the Flash cannot escape. To make matters worse, there is a bomb inside the barrier that increases its discharge every time Barry uses his connection to the speed force.

 Art

The art looks good in this issue, but I do have a couple of complaints. First would be the scene with Singh and Barry where Booth has decided on some, shall we say…interesting… expressions. Next would be that Flash’s suit looks a little too busy/over designed. I understand with the reboot from a couple of years ago DC has decided to update everyone’s costumes, but I think the addition of all the extra yellow lines makes it look overworked. Additionally, it looks like they have decided to go back to the metallic sheen on the suit from the 90’s which I was never really a fan of. Here, with the matte colors that Dalhouse has chosen for the rest of the coloring it looks out of place. I can only assume that Barry is making his suit out of the Speed Force and Dalhouse decided that the sheen would make it look otherworldly compared to the “flatter” colors of the rest of the world. I say assume because we don’t see whether Barry is making his suit or has the compressed suit in a ring.

Final Grade

The story seems to be a setup for the start of a new arc, or at least near the beginning, so I think this would be a good jumping on point for a new reader. I wish we had gotten to see a little bit more of Barry’s personality. One of the complaints against Barry’s character in the 80’s was that he had less personality than Hal Jordan, which is quite the insult. After reading this issue, it seems that the writers haven’t done much to make him a more interesting character. It is nice, however, to see that the writers are not forgetting about the importance of a good supporting cast, but it is possible that because of this focus on other characters, Barry took a backseat this issue. The art is clean and you can easily tell what’s going on. There is feeling of movement throughout, especially during the fight we get at the end of the comic. Overall, I’d give it 4 Speed Force Bombs out of 5

Digging Through the Long Box

If you like this story, or getting inside the head of another Zoom, I’d recommend tracking down a copy of The Flash (Vol. 2) #197. It focuses on Hunter Zoloman, who realizes he has time distortion powers, and his decision to become the new Reverse-Flash known as Zoom.

What Are Your Thoughts?