Review: The Flash #245

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If you are a long time reader of comic books, you’ve seen Wally West grow from kid sidekick to a member of the Teen Titans to taking over the role of The Flash (and yet Batman is still the same age…) With a character that has some involvement in many of the DCU’s greatest stories, it is interesting to see those tales from his perspective.  And when your powers are suddenly fading, it’s a time to reflect on those friends around you. Yes Wally West, this is your life.

flash245cover.jpgIt seems every super hero ends up achieving an exponential increase in power over time.  In the early days, Wally West could only achieve the speed of sound, but as reboots, new writers, and events that will never make the universe the same again, The Flash ended up with powers that allowed him to travel around at speeds sometimes exceeding that of the speed of light.

His sacrifice at the end of last issue, where he used his connection to the speed force to stabilize the out of control growth spurts of his two children, and a mysterious bee sting, has left Wally unable to travel faster than 700 miles per hour.  Dr. Mid-nite suspects it has something to do with Wally’s aura being damaged, thus causing friction to build up around him, slowing his pace, and causing him great pain.  I don’t mind this kind of power draining to make the actions of a hero that much more believable. In fact, I think I prefer this solution over a complete story reboot.

As Dr. Mid-nite, Red Tornado, and Black Lightning run as many experiments as they can, Wally has a moment to think about the moments in his life, that are not only key moments in his life, but key moments in the DCU.  There is a really nice scene as Wally thinks back to his younger days with Speedy and how he discovers he’s a smack addict, and yet is even more impressed he’s been able to overcome great obstacles to become the Red Arrow.
There are even great moments from his time with the Teen Titans, where at first he is shunned by everyone for not being a team player, and then later during the Terra Incognito storyline where he and Dick Grayson decide to leave the Titans to do their own thing.  He even has a private moment with Raven where he suddenly realizes it was Beast Boy she had the hots for and not him.

In short Wally’s depressed because he’s going through some tough times.  A pep talk from Linda, and a little something else (plus a nice gratuitous butt shot for the ladies) are enough to put a smile on his face, and spring in his step before everything falls apart around him.

For those not familiar with HIVE, the Queen Bee Zazzala, or Carapace, I can’t help you as they are revealed to be the forces of evil in this story arc.  Zazzala is getting ready to mount a take over of Keystone City and soon the world!  (INSERT MANIACAL LAUGHTER HERE).  In all seriousness, you really don’t need to know a whole lot about the villains as they are just there to cause conflict with the hero, although it is an interesting choice, as HIVE had run-ins with the Teen Titans many times over the years.  With the many flash backs, and appearances by Red Arrow and Raven, I wonder if we’ll see a Titans together moment before the story concludes.

Now that the kids have had their age spurts stabilized, Wally does need to take some care in letting the kids getting involved in heroics, as it could lead to another round of head butting with the JLA, who might want to take the kids away for good.  As much as I’ve liked the family aspect of the West family, I think readers need a break, and Wally needs to have some real Flash adventures without Linda and the kids in the way.

As far as Alan Burnett’s writing goes, pulling in key moments we’ve all seen in past issues, or in trades, makes Wally a more realistic character with feelings and memories of a life we have all grown up with.  It’s just so cool to see these events from a different perspective.

The art by Carlo Barberi fits with the story.  There aren’t any really weird panels or out of proportion bodies, and I dig Queen Bee’s appearance as she emerges naked from a pool of honey, with the sticky bee secretions keeping her covered.  While it works perfectly in Barberi’s hands, it would be way over the top had Cho or Lee been doing the art on this issue.  Of course that’s not going to happen, as even though some great stories are being told, the title is only able to sell around 30,000 copies a month.

For a second installment in what is sure to be a six issue arc, it has enough reveal to keep the reader’s interest, but I worry about some very unnecessary padding coming up next issue, which could cause me and 29,999 others to lose interest in the story.  Still, Flash #245 is good enough to give it 3 out of 5 Stars.

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