Or – “Hey, Lines On Your Boots Really DO Make You Faster!”

Captain Cold was, historically, the first member of the Flash’s Rogue’s Gallery.  Though technically the second villain Barry Allen ever faced (and frankly, the Turtle shouldn’t count) Leonard Snart evolved over the years into a mildly noble brute with an old-school mentality and a proudly retro cold gun.  With a new, younger not-a-reboot version of the Flash rushing about, what has become of the Captain?

THE FLASH #7
Writer(s): Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Artist: Francis Manapul
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in The Flash:  Barry Allen, police scientist, was struck by an errant bolt of lightning in his lab, and doused with electrified chemical solutions which empowered him to become the Fastest Man Alive.  Depending on where you came in, he either died, resurrected and accidentally rebooted the universe into the latest incarnation (the colloquial New 52) or has been a hero for about five years or so in an entirely new and unsegmented version of reality.  An experiment with a strange treadmill (an ominous word for those familiar with previous Flash realities) has left Central City powerless after an electromagnetic pulse, which has also left Captain Cold’s sister Lisa helpless in the hands of a hospital with no electricity.  The Captain has brought it to Flash’s attention that this situation is hardly ideal, by trying to kill his girlfriend, while The Flash finds his speed energy threatening to tear open the space-time continuum, threatening both the world and Eddy’s couch.

THE PROBLEM WITH THE FLASH…

Let’s talk, for a brief moment, about The Speed Force (TM).  The Speed Force is a giant field of kinetic energy that exists somewhere outside the natural reality, and funnels juice into Barry Allen to make him run really fast, y’all.  This is good.  The problem is, Barry’s powers are clearly not about running and running and running like a constipated weiner dog, but about changing the fundamental rules of reality as he goes.  It’s tough to write anything meaningful that might threaten a character who can do such things, but Manapul and Buccallatto open this issue with a lovely sequence that really uses the format of comic book panels to build a sense of urgency, a sense of speed, and give us the impression that Flash really is thinking and moving and zooming about.  The writers have also put a limit on Barry’s whooshing, by revealing that using too much power from the Speed Force creates wormholes in reality.  As soon as he puts the hammer down to save Patty (New Girlfriend) Spivot, a wormhole opens and consumes Iris (Old Girlfriend And Sometime Wife) West, leaving a frustrated Flash to vent on Captain Cold.  I am a bit surprised to say that I really like the characterization of The Flash here, especially the deftness with which the writers handled the Patty/Barry/Iris triangle, proving that even the hoariest tropes (which used correctly) still have life in them.

TWO BIRDS, ONE STONE…

The issue really moves along (as befits The Flash’s title) but it doesn’t skip out on the important parts, as we see Barry fix the city’s power problem, try a desperate leap of faith, and perhaps reveal his true feelings all in the space of a few pages.  There are hints of the reappearance of at least TWO of the Usual Suspects (one musically inclined, the other hirsute and brutish), the short-term resolution of Lisa Snart’s illness (which, given that Earth-1 Lisa was the Golden Glider, may count as a third Rogue sighting) and some lovely character-building for love interest Patty Spivot.  The art throughout the issue is pretty spectacular as well, with Manapul (whose name always makes me think of playing Magic: The Gathering) using unusual layouts to convey the suddenness of the Flash’s movements as well as the weird time/space travel in the issue.  We’re left with a quick cliffhanger, and the promise that next issue will explore the Speed Force more in depth, and I find myself really excited to say that I’m looking forward to picking up next issue.  I had lapsed in my Flash reading, a benign sort of neglect when #1 didn’t make as strong an impression as other #1’s, but this issue has me back on board to see where it’s all going…

THE VERDICT:  WELL, THIS IS INTERESTING…

The Flash is one of two characters with whom I have an unhealthy love/hate (or perhaps, more accurately and Add/Drop) relationship.  Barry Allen was one of the characters who drew me into this crazy comic book habit to begin with, and I’ve been reading his stories for so long that I find myself easily dropping the book when a writer doesn’t fit my personal views of what The Flash should be.  Still smarting from the ignoble lack of closure given Wally West after Final Crisis, I didn’t want to embrace this title, but Manapul and Buccallato (whose name always make me want to go to Starbucks) have crafted an issue that is fast-paced without being short-attention-spanned, and offers an exciting glimpse into a fully-fleshed-out world for The Flash to run through and around.  The Flash #7 is beautiful, well-paced and entertaining, earning a completely unexpected 5 out of 5 stars overall.  This is a great example of how to tell an ongoing story while still crafting an enjoyable single issue reading experience.

Rating: ★★★★★

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.

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6 Comments

  1. BlueBeetle
    March 29, 2012 at 10:55 am — Reply

    Woohoo! I am so pleased with this title, and thus it is the only survivor of the New 52 launch titles still on my pull list. DC would have got my money just for the Manapul art, but the reading has been quite solid as well. In for one when I hit the LCS on Friday.

  2. Xian
    March 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm — Reply

    Love.

  3. TaZ
    March 30, 2012 at 8:44 am — Reply

    I don’t like the “wormhole” thing.

    • Damascus
      June 6, 2012 at 7:55 am — Reply

      Yeah, I don’t really either. I don’t mind if it’s something that he deals with and gets around it, but if it stays around too long I’ll get bored I think. It just seems like once he got the updated suit with it’s warning system, it only took no more than 20 seconds worth of super speed to open a wormhole. I would be better with it I think if it were something that happened more after a really excessive amount of time using the Speed Force. But since we’re still early in this storyline, I’ll probably have any concerns addressed soon enough, so we’ll just wait and see. Still a good story so far. What does everyone think about the updated Captain Cold not needing his Freeze Ray anymore?

      Also, I was talking with a buddy a couple years ago and I was trying to think if there was ever a speedster that was black. I believe there was an asian speedster in the short-lived series The Order from Marvel, but I couldn’t think of a black one. It was more a curiousity than anything. The reason I mention it, but if this new character Turbine is also a speedy character, is he the first? I know there’s the character Freight Train too, but does he have super speed or is that more of a Juggernaut type power? Nevermind, I wiki’d him and he’s kinda like Juggernaut but with super-speed and he’s somehow related to that 1993 storyline Bloodlines.

  4. Ari
    March 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm — Reply

    The art is gorgeous in this series! And this issue might just be the best yet.

  5. J_Michael_T
    March 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm — Reply

    Agh! A good review right after I dropped the title. Damn.

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