Or – “This One’s The Determinator For Matthew…”

I’ve been on the fence about the revamped Flash for some time, but per my general rule of pull list acquisitions, I give any title six issues to grab me.  This series has been all over the map, plagued with delays, and generally pretty much a non-starter for me, so I’m hoping that this arc closes with a big bang that will launch us into a new era of Flash-related greatness.

I am not, however, holding my breath…

The Flash #6
Written by GEOFF JOHNS

Art and Cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
1:10 Variant cover by ALE GARZA & SANDRA HOPE
Colors by BRIAN BUCCATELLO
Letters by SAL CIPRIANO
Published by DC COMICS

Previously, on The Flash:  The 25th Century is the stomping grounds of Eobard Thawne, known to many as the Reverse-Flash, Professor Zoom, or Mr. Stinky.  This notoriety has apparently led the judicial system of that era to try and fight crime using a whole new strategem:  Take out PAST crimes in an effort to wipe out all the criminals and their families, eventually leading to a utopian 25th Century with no crime whatsoever.  Of course, there is a small problem with this theory, in that their data isn’t accurate.  Sending their greatest champions (ironically all patterned on Flash foes, a sort of Reverse Rogue’s Gallery) back in time, the secret heads of future jurisprudence have set out to take The Flash into custody for the future murder of the Mirror Monarch, while one of their own members plots to take out Iris Allen for his own unseen ends.  I’m no temporal mechanic, but the fact that The Flash killed the Reverse-Flash 500 years before he was ever born would seem to be a more meaningful crime to me, but then again, that happened more than six issues ago, so it might as well not even have happened in today’s comics market.  Either way, Barry Allen is on trial for his recently-returned life, and things look bad for the Vizier of Velocity…

The mysterious masked judge opens this issue, reading off the crimes that the Flash supposedly caused, but finds that he can’t get a word in edgewise when the defendant has super-speed.  Barry tries to parley with them, but justice is blind even in the year 2525 (and as it turns out, man is not only alive, he’s taken all this old Earth can give but ain’t put back nothin’, whoa whoooa) and Flash’s sentence starts to come down.  Of course, in a moment that is pretty awesome, Barry busts free (“Did you really think you could restrain me with HANDCUFFS for so long?”) steals a time platform and jets back to the present just in time to save his wife Iris from the evil Top.  Wait, are they still married if they’ve both died and returned without remarrying?  I’m not sure that’s been addressed thus far…  Flash opens a can of high-velocity Whupa$$ on the future Rogue, and the chase is on.

The Top leads him on a merry chase across Central City, all the while helpfully explaining that it is HE who set The Flash up, traveling back in time to frame not only Flash but the innocent boy in a previous issue for crimes to protect his own standing.  Turns out that Top’s ancestor was the actual murderer, and it was clear that The Flash would be able to prove that fact, causing Top to be drummed out of the Reverse-Rogues due to their stringent background checks.  Their battle ends up in a modern courtroom, which is where I start to get annoyed with the whole proceeding, as they hammer us over the head with the symbolism of it all.  Flash uses his super-speed to undo The Top’s spinning powers, and the future-types arrive to take their guy into custody.  Commander Cold, the head of the strikeforce, tells Flash that he’s disappointed in him, since he can travel through time, but he’s never tried to “fix it.”  The issue ends with an interesting couple of previews, as the 25th Century types realize that time is broken because of the paradoxes involving Wonder Woman, and a mysterious man on a motorcycle hopes that Barry finds “The Flashpoint” in time…

First and foremost, this is really not the ideal arc to kick off a new title, in my opinion, relying as it does on knowledge not only of The Flash and his villains, their backstories and some pretty in-depth temporal manipulations overall.  It sets in motion what I believe will be the first sparks of the coming giant Flash crossover, and I’m extremely annoyed to say that they’ve hooked me, at least for a while more.  The issue itself is much clearer visually than the last couple, but I’m not at all convinced that Francis Manapul is the best artist for a book that relies on speed and motion effects, given his rather stiff figure-work and the pencil/watercolor effects of the finished art.  Overall, it’s better than either #4 or #5, but it still evens out to a pretty average issue overall.  I want to know what comes next more than I care about what has just finished, causing The Flash #6 to earn a pretty disappointed 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. 

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  What do we suspect this whole Flashpoint thing is all about?  And will I at least get some Wally West out of the thing?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

Dynamite Entertainment snags Warehouse 13

Next post

Major Spoilers Podcast #254: Ask @MajorSpoilers

8 Comments

  1. November 20, 2010 at 7:43 am — Reply

    I haven’t read this issue yet, but I agree wholeheartedly about Manapul’s art on this title. I loved his art on his Superboy story; the only word I can use to describe it is “lovely”, mostly because of its almost melancholy watercolor shading. There were a few moments in his Flash run that were pretty dynamic (I love the Rogues’ intro with each of their portraits forming a letter in the word “WANTED” in the first issue), but overall he seems too gentle a choice for the book. Glad to know it’s not just me.

  2. Brainlock
    November 20, 2010 at 9:05 am — Reply

    “things look back for the Vizier of Velocity…”
    Did you mean BLEAK? ;)

    The delays and the art (Manapul’s good, but not suited for this title) have put me off the story, as well as making the announcement of Flashpoint as soon as the series started makes this seem as if they’re borrowing a page from Marvel in the “this series leads into our next Mega-Big-Super-Deluxe X-over!!!!” Especially as you mention they are now tying the JMS WW arc into Flashpoint, which makes me wonder what those plans are now that JMS is OFF the title?

    This arc could have been tightened into maybe 4 issues, not six. On top of that, it was obvious from the start that one of the anti-Rogues was going to be a traitor, so that twist did NOT surprise me at all.

    And have they said anything about WALLY’s whereabouts, lately??
    From the cover solicits, he’s eventually coming back in the next arc, but at least they haven’t killed him to make Barry more “gritty and dark”, much like the art.

  3. Mokin
    November 20, 2010 at 10:26 am — Reply

    Way back when I started really collecting comics, Crisis on Infinite Earths was full on, and I can say that I really started to get into DC with the retelling of Superman’s history (“Man of Steel”…), and a sidekick became a hero, and in fact, my favorite hero. Wally West became the Flash.

    All was fine until a few years ago when they nessed him up and then brought back this Allen guy. I have a lot of respect for this Barry Allen guy, but to me, he’s just too “generic”, too “blend” and ordinary. He lacks some punch.

    This storyline, while moderately enjoyable, just proved my point.

    Art is ok (while not convenient in my opinion…), but the story so predictable and “beige” that it could have involved any other speedster with a bit of history. Barry is too nice a guy, and even the parts where they try to make him act like a bad@$$ is not convincing.

    So far, this is not convincing me that I should keep shelling out my hard earned dollar for this blend version of my favorite Flash.

    This is a very disappointed Mokin.

  4. Katzedecimal
    November 20, 2010 at 10:51 am — Reply

    You know you’re in trouble when one of the people on the book says “It could be anybody under the costume,” causing Dan Didio to go all shockface and “nonono it’s Barry the Great!” O rly?

    When the book started, I’d been hoping for some sub-story, some “Barry Allen who, last time he saw a computer it was a big beige box with a green CRT monitor and a cell phone was a big expensive brick, wakes up in the land of Blackberries and iPads”, some culture shock and some transitioning issues. But this guy seems to have just stepped into place. Come on! Even if he’d only been ‘dead’ for ten years, he’d need significant re-training on procedures and software at the forensics office, all his compadres are now using iPhones to send crime scene pics back to each other. It’s like Johns thinks “Barry Allen: Stranger in a Strange Land” wouldn’t be interesting. It would give the character some much-needed colour!

    Remember those Warner Brothers cartoons where the two sheepdogs would change shifts, punching in and punching out, taking turns to foil the coyote? That’s what this book feels like. Barry feels like the second sheepdog, the one we never got to see in action. It feels like Wally just handed off his costume to his cousin Bob or something, “I gotta babysit the kids, can you cover my costume shift for a few days?” Ugh.

    Bland character, bland story and to make it worse, the book’s been delayed so many times now, we’ve run out of “Barry’s always late” jokes. Now that is sad. The story finally gets to a half-way interesting point (if you happen to like The Top, that is) but it’s so disjointed from being chronically late, no one cares anymore.

  5. BallsMonkey
    November 20, 2010 at 9:09 pm — Reply

    I couldn’t disagree with you more about the art. Francis’ pencils and colors are strong and do more to tell the story going on than John’s dialogue. The watercolors do wonders for the speed and motion effects and with this art there’s more feeling to it than any other book out there. Say what you will about the story, but Manapul’s art is really the main reason to pick up this book. It’s just visually stunning.

    • November 23, 2010 at 11:52 am — Reply

      I have to agree. I wouldn’t go o far as to call it stunning, but I think the soft lines and colors suggest that you’re seeing the world the way The Flash sees it, and that a guy that could move that fast would see the world in a fundamentally different way.

  6. November 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm — Reply

    I’ve been reading a lot of reviews of this issue and it seems like this title is truly devise. For people like me, this first arc was a greater disappointment than Flash: Rebirth (which is hard for me to believe!), but I think it has to do a lot with expectations.

    I just thought this book would have a different feel, getting into Barry’s head a little more about returning to life and all that. And like the reviewer mentions, Manapul’s work is well done, but not right for this title. I thought Johns and Manapul were perfect together on Adventure comics, where their combined styles truly fit with the youthful tone of the Superboy stories.

    So much like my comment here, I felt that this arc was too long and quite anti-climatic. But I’ll stick with the Flash through whatever, so here’s looking forward to next issue!

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section