REVIEW: The Flash #11

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Patty Spivot’s still mourning Barry Allen’s death, so who’s this guy in the red pajamas that showed up in Keystone City? Why does Mick Rory have a fire in his belly, and what’s he got to prove? And will Leonard Snart give the new bartender, Al, the cold shoulder? All this and more, in The Flash #11, reviewed by Major Spoilers!

THE FLASH #11
Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Artist: Marcus To
Inker: Ray McCarthy
Colorist: Brian Buccellato and Ian Herring
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in The Flash Barry Allen died. Or at least that’s what everyone he knew back in Central City thinks, after a boat that Barry had been on (along with Iris West) was bounced through time, but The Flash escaped and defeated the source of the temporal anomalies, the villain Turbine. Now that he’s back, he decided to let his love interest Patty Spivot continue to believe Barry Allen was dead, and instead go to Keystone City and start a new life.

VILLAIN OF THE WEEK DONE RIGHT

The Flash has probably faced down more villains since the relaunch than any other DC hero, and it’s been a really enjoyable ride. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s stories have very much had a “villain of the week” feel to them as a result, and usually that’s a moniker viewed in a negative light.  In this title it’s served as a pleasant contrast to the typical decompressed storytelling that DC often does, ironically most notoriously perpetrated by the most recent Flash scribe, Geoff Johns.

In this issue we see Barry set up a new life as a bartender in the Rogues’ number one hangout. This scene really hit my sense of humor in the right way, as Barry initially applied for the job and was turned down, but after he ordered a beer and found he’d been pickpocketed, he offered to work off the debt and the barkeep straight up hired him. It’s an odd moment, but Manapul and Buccellato sell it well, and it establishes what promises to be an interesting new status quo for Barry. I’m still wondering when Barry will get around to figuring out what happened to the boat that time forgot so he can save Iris, but in the meantime things seem to be going in a good direction for The Flash.

CREATOR BLOAT

What was once one of the smallest creative teams in comics–Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato both taking on multiple roles between art and writing–made a nice long run, but something must have caught up with the creators (my guess? Deadlines) and The Flash #11 marks the second issue with Marcus To on pencils. Interestingly after reading #10 I turned to my wife and said “Wow, Francis Manapul sure is knocking it out of the park on pencils in The Flash,” not realizing the issue had been drawn by Marcus To. When I handed her the issue to read I noticed the cover had Marcus To credited, and I thought maybe he’d done the inks for Manapul or something of the sort. Surprised, I pulled the issue back and flipped to the credits page, to find that he’d actually done the pencils. Going into this issue knowing he was on pencils, I was much more critical of the art, finding all the ways To’s pencils differed from Manapul. The layouts still appear to be set up by Manapul, and some character shots look exactly like they were done by him, but–and I’m not sure if it’s McCarthy’s inks or To’s pencils that are to blame–the characteristic “softness” that has made this title’s art had is largely gone.

It’s always difficult for a filler artist to take the reins from an established artist, and when that artist is someone like Francis Manapul or J.H. Williams III it exposes them to even more criticism than usual. That being said, I enjoyed Marcus To’s pencils on this title, but will be happier when we get Francis back, which I believe is supposed to be next issue.

BOTTOM LINE: FUN STORY, DECENT ART, GOOD BOOK!

Ironically given the progressive nature of Manapul’s artistic layouts, this title’s story has been very reminiscent of Silver Age comics, in a very good way. I like how Manapul has been introducing the Rogues, and am excited for him to be back on art with the next issue, assuming that is indeed the case. Overall I believe The Flash #11 deserves an above average three and a half stars; the solid story helps make up for my disappointment in not having Manapul on art.

Rating: ★★★½☆