Comics Anonymous

THE FLASH #1 by G-Man
October 5, 2011, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Comic Reviews, DC Comics | Tags: , , ,

The DC reboot machine keeps on trucking as we near the end of the #1 reviews for the first lot of 52 titles and now The Flash is aiming to make an impact in a sea of characters clambering for attention.

WARNING: contains some spoilers.

First to mention is that this issue is co-written by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato, with Manapul on art and Buccellato on colours, which gives the issue heart from the beginning. That’s something that’s not easily achieved in other titles, without plain luck.

We start at a Tech Symposium, Barry Allens first date with co-worker Patty Spivot. From the off, we know that Iris West may be in doubt for Barry’s affections.  The date is interrupted by a masked gang, don’t you hate it when that happens, and we get to see Barry Allen change into The Flash… now we’ve started…

The gang are chased and one of them is caught in true Flash fashion. Thrown from an escape helicopter, Barry gets the gang member to ‘safety’ by throwing him through a plate glass window. Meanwhile, he’s plummeting to the ground and vibrating his way out of trouble.  All in a days work.  We then see Barry Allen appear in ‘scientist-mode’ and join the invesgation team around the now-dead gang member the Flash ‘saved’.  The whole situation becomes even more of a curiosity when Barry recognizes the unmasked gang member: Manuel, an old friend of Barry’s.

For me this is the magic of an issue where the art/writing are being dealt with by such an involved team. Every page seems to glow with art, every line feels natural instead of scripted and the flip between the bold colours of the Flash himself and the muted tones of Barry Allens ‘real’ world are seemless.  The story and its hints of mystery (Barry knowing Manuel) have me wishing this was a TPB instead of a single issue and I’m only 12 pages in.

Barry now has a case to solve and the sight of the Flash reminiscing about Barry/Manuel growing up as friends is a slap across the face to remind you that Barry IS the Flash and the Flash IS Barry. Other titles have a clear separation of the two sides of a character: a superhero and a Joe Bloggs. Here, we have a merge into one character and that’s a powerful thing to achieve in one issue, let alone half of one.

From here Barry throws himself into his own private investigation, only to be interrupted by a late night caller, who turns out to be Manuel himself – the dead guy – a WTF moment if ever there was one. Barry seems to join Manuel on the run in a heartbeat, just like old times. That’s a good friend right there.  The people in pursuit are organized though and have men on the ground, watching every corner it seems.  Barry feigns a fall into the local river and allows himself the space for a change into the Flash and a quick catchup to Manuel and the final scene just deals us another WTF moment… that I won’t spoil for you here.

OK, so in one issue, we’ve managed to ‘get’ that Barry Allen is the Flash and for new readers, the quick recapped origin in a two-page spread early on in the issue is a stroke of genius… for everyone else it’s a refresher but that’s not the hook here. The hook is the whole issue itself.  The script/art combo throughout is sublime… with the creative team saying as much in a wide-eyed expression as they do with a Flash narrative or clever piece of dialogue and this issue has them all anyway.

This is my 10 out of 10 issue from DC’s New 52 reboot and for me it’s got everything that a new run should have: strong art, strong writing… is there really anything more we could want from an issue? I don’t think so.

G-Man @gjwatson85

3 Comments so far
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I totally agree – a stand out issue from the New 52 and the nicest looking one too – but we knew that would be the case with Frances Manapul. His work picks up exactly where the pre-Flashpoint series left off – in my eyes, there’s no better person to be drawing the Flash. I was a little skeptical by the fact that Manapul would be on writing duties too, however he seems to have learnt a lot from his time with Geoff Johns and pulls a blinder here too. I’m sure this will be a guaranteed success every month!

Comment by Craig

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