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Aaaaa-ahhhh! Hesavedeveryoneofus! Graeme Gets Dastardly With The Flash

Graeme McMillan

I promise, I wasn’t really looking for a pun to start this off, but this one was unavoidable. With the sixth issue finally out a couple of weeks ago, I finally had a chance to sit down and re-read THE FLASH #1-6, only to realize that Geoff Johns let the story run away from him early on, and couldn’t quite catch up. Get it…? “Run away… from… him…”? Oh, okay; I’ll just say what I mean, then.

I’d hoped, before re-reading, that the weird disjointed feeling that’d plagued me reading these issues as they came out would, if not disappear, then be lessened by the experience of getting everything in one sitting, watching all the pieces fall into place without months of waiting in between. But instead, the opposite happened; it seemed to become more obvious that the pacing of “The Dastardly Death of The Rogues!” is really badly off, and for reasons that don’t seem apparently obvious. Reading the first four issues in particular evoke a strange feeling of deja vu: Wait, didn’t we see the Flash spend a few pages performing what should be a visually impressive feat of superspeed before being confronted by the time-traveling Renegade Task Force last issue? The plot doesn’t really get going until the series’ fourth issue, at which point there’s at least enough of a premise put forth that we finally get some forward motion. The problem then becomes that it’s a fake out – Essentially, the entire arc is a series of “What if this happens? Only joking! Here’s something unexpected interrupting to make sure that the cliffhanger isn’t really followed up on!” delays and false starts; insert your own “Who’d’ve thought The Flash would have trouble getting up momentum?” jokes here – and the resolution to the plot gets pretty much squashed into the final chapter, where it becomes unconvincing and, because it not only ends with foreshadowing for Flashpoint next year but also doesn’t really address the McGuffin that took up the last half of the story, pretty unfulfilling.

Not helping, sadly, is Francis Manapul’s art which is lush, attractive, beautiful and entirely wrong for the series. This isn’t a dig at Manapul, whose work I really do like; it’s just that his attempts at the large-scale spectacular action scenes never seem to ring true to me, and instead, I find myself drawn to his quieter moments – which he himself seems to enjoy himself, it seems. I can’t quite say what would work as a speedster style for me, but Manapul’s brushwork and toned art seems more leisurely, more relaxed and at odds with the non-stop, impatient world that we’re supposed to believe Central City has become.

The annoying thing is, there’s actually a lot to like about The Flash, when taken out of context: I like the Barry and Iris relationship, the concepts behind a lot of the new status quo (That Barry will, by his actions, teach the forensics department the value of taking their time and valuing their jobs, for example. Or that people in Central are generally pushy and impatient), and Manapul’s art. But none of it has managed to really come together in a way that works for me, yet. It’s sad; I like Johns’ work, normally, and had high hopes for this series after his short run with Manapul in Adventure Comics, but based upon the first arc, The Flash is a high Eh, or Okay at best. Here’s hoping for better in future issues.

6 Responses to “ Aaaaa-ahhhh! Hesavedeveryoneofus! Graeme Gets Dastardly With The Flash ”

  1. “insert your own “Who’d’ve thought The Flash would have trouble getting up momentum?” jokes here”

    Let’s not and say we didn’t.

    “Not helping, sadly, is Francis Manapul’s art which is lush, attractive, beautiful and entirely wrong for the series.”

    Couldn’t agree more. I felt this way with the first preview images of the relaunch, and still feel the same way. Just put Kolins back on the book, dammit! He’s done all the recently Flash miniseries anyway.

  2. Totally agree with you on the story… but I gotta disagree about the art. I really, really like it. His quiet moments rock, but I’m enjoying the wide-screen action that he’s doing, too. Flash running along the propellors of a plane (or helicopter… of something flying) was pretty awesome. I’m taken by his depiction of speed in the series and his sense of design for the not-Rogues was spot on.

    I’m really not looking forward to Kolins’ return for the next two issues. I understand getting the book back on track and out on time… but I was so hoping that the fill-in artist was going to be someone different.

  3. I’ve seen reviewers gush about how time travel gives them headaches but that Johns got it right.
    But this story line was a textbook case of getting it wrong.
    I challenge readers to actually sit down and try and explain The Top’s motives to me and how they make sense, not just within this story, but using the logic of time travel.
    Seriously. Anyone who followed this story hasn’t sat down and carefully read all six issues. It’s one big old cluster f***!
    The Top, who has been hired as a futuristic cop, wants to prevent Barry Allen from uncovering the fact one of his ancestors is guilty of murder in Barry’s/our present. Why? Because, according to the plot, in the future crimes by family members are held against police recruits and if Barry is successful The Top will fail his background check and never become a cop in the first place.
    But Barry’s SOLVED the crime in The Top’s past so The Top NEVER should have passed his background check to begin with to become a future cop to set this whole plan to thwart Barry in motion.
    Plus The Top’s plan is amazingly convoluted and never fully explained by Johns. He murders a fellow future cop in order to pin it on The Flash so he and his fellow future officers can visit our present and The Top can stop Barry from convicting his ancestor of murder.
    Wha!?!?!
    As Barry himself points out, why didn’t The Top try and stop his ancestor from committing the crime in the first place?
    The Top also argues that his murder of his fellow officer and his setting up of Barry will not matter once he stops Barry from solving the crime The Top’s ancestor committed. Again, wha?!?!?!?
    What’s worse is that Johns clearly WANTS to make this book about time travel. And this first plot alone made me lose all faith in his ability to tell a coherent time travel story.

  4. “With the sixth issue finally out a couple of weeks ago, I finally had a chance to sit down and re-read THE FLASH #1-6, only to realize that Geoff Johns let the story run away from him early on, and couldn’t quite catch up.”

    I did that myself last night!

    I still really enjoyed it, but that reveal for why the future cops are really (unknowingly) there, is pretty much an insult to the reader.
    You could drive a truck through that holes in it – I mean, even if you accept that clearly stupid premise for why he’s trying to do it, this was the plan he came up with?
    Is there any possible way he could have made it more convoluted?
    I’m sure the broken mirror and Iris plots will be back, and this was just an excuse to launch them, but it still makes no sense that the villain would think using all of these was the best course of action.

    But, it’s still a pretty fun read.
    I really hope, as it keeps hinting, that Barry will try to, and hopefully succeed, in stopping Zoom from offing his mother – if only to make all the ‘Geoff Johns is ruining Barry’ blogs/posts utterly irrelevant.

    “Not helping, sadly, is Francis Manapul’s art which is lush, attractive, beautiful and entirely wrong for the series.”

    I couldn’t disagree more.
    It’s different to what you would expect, but I think it works perfectly for the series.
    It reminds me of Darwyn Cooke’s Flash issue in New Frontier, whilst still being it’s own thing.
    The series has a ‘let’s have fun with the Silver Age’ vibe to it, and I think Manapul is the perfect artist for such a thing.

  5. I read the first issue of the Flash relaunch when it came out, then stopped buying it until last week when I bought the sixth issue cause I thought the cover looked neat. So having only read the beginning and ending chapters I thought the story was pretty good. Ultimately, I guess that speaks to the quality of those middle issues though, when you can skip them and still get a fairly satisfying and complete story with only a little fill-in-the-gaps assuming.

    Personally, I like Manapul’s artwork on Flash. I’ve been re-reading the Flash Chronicles v1, and there’s a certain Infantino-charm to Manapul’s work. I like the lack of computer-generated blurring. It’s simple and evocative. Yeah, I think Adventure Comics was a better fit for him overall with it’s down on the farm charm, but I enjoy his Flash work quite a bit. In fact, I could see him becoming a “definitive” Flash artist in much the same way Wieringo and Kolins were during their…runs…on the book.

  6. A terrific commentary on Manapul’s art on The Flash:

    http://www.comixology.com/articles/419/Oh-You-Pretty-Things

    touching upon some folks’ points here, including Anthony’s.

    I’d agree whole-heartedly with Stone re: Manapul’s work here; I’m really, really loving it. It’s incredibly exciting to both look at and read. It’s dazzling — but dazzling in the service of the story and the action.

    I’m enjoying the series, overall, much more than Stone has (I’ve followed the whole thing). And I, for one, do not mind at all when the “plain-clothes” people make the scene, because I think Manapul gives us an almost amazingly lovely Barry Allen. A guy could get away with murder — pun intended — with a kisser like that.

    Matthew

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