It’s that time of the year for the annuals to start hitting the shelves. Major Spoilers takes at look at The Flash’s to see if it keeps up the brisk pace, or comes grinding to a halt.
THE FLASH: ANNUAL #1
Writer: Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato
Artists: Marcus To, Scott Kolins, Diogenes Neves, Marcio Takara, and Wes Craig
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual, Dezi Sienty, Pat Brosseau, Wes Abbot
Colorist: Ian Herring, Mike Atiyeh, and Wes Craig
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in The Flash: Barry Allen has started a new life after faking his death to protect the woman he loves. Meanwhile, the Rogues have returned, but they are sporting some fancy new powers. Now they have united and are after The Flash…
UNITED THEY FALL
The title of this issue is “United They Fall”, which is a somewhat appropriate title. Split into five chapters, the issue mainly deals with the Rogues and the back-story of how they all acquired their new powers. It’s sort of a relief to finally know the how and why of the changes that the Rogues have undergone. Unfortunately, the answer is disappointing. The use of a “Genome Recorder” to rewrite the DNA of the Rogues to incorporate their powers into them was underwhelming. It was almost as if it was thrown together at the last minute with very little thought put into it. Of course things get out of hand and Captain Cold’s sister is killed in the process, changing her into the astral projection known as Glider. We see Captain Cold get the Genome Recorder from Dr. Elias, but the motive is completely absent, unless you accept “I just want to see what happens” as a reason.
The chapters focusing on the Rogues are the best ones in the issue though. Chapter One feels completely unnecessary, only providing a brief glimpse into Barry Allen’s relationship with his father. Chapter Four shows Patty Spivot obtaining a blood sample from Turbine, who may be able to provide her with the whereabouts of Barry Allen. These two chapters feel out of place with the rest of the issue and could have been included in a regular issue of The Flash. Then there is the final chapter consisting of a battle between the Rogues and The Flash. It’s quick and concise, but I found Captain Cold’s reason behind betraying Flash confusing. Why was he helping Flash only to turn on him? And why did Cold want to take down the Rogues? The answers were lost on me and I would chalk that up to the story not having enough room to breathe. The end is just a setup for what’s to come next in The Flash, with the return of Gorilla Grodd.
All together the chapters don’t make a very cohesive, complete story and each one could have benefited from being expanded upon in the main title. The idea behind the story, of finding out the Rogues’ origins, was a good one but the execution was lacking for me.
MAN, THAT’S A LOT OF ARTISTS
Each of the five chapters has its own artist with Francis Manapul providing the breakdowns. Having Manapul do this helps infuse the action scenes with energy that is seen when he does the art himself. Marcus To handles the duties on the first chapter and his art looks great as well, just has it has on previous issues, but he just isn’t given a lot to draw. Scott Kolins is no stranger to The Flash, and his art on display here is generally good. There are a few facial expressions and features that look a bit funny and some of the characters have a “soaking wet” appearance to them, but overall his art is probably the best in the issue. Diogenes Neves and Marcio Takara do good work on their chapters, but nothing really stood out to me. The final chapter, called “The Showdown” is where most of the action takes place and is drawn by Wes Craig. Here the panel layouts and action are well done, with most of the pages being double page spreads. Again, there is energy in the pages, and I’m curious as to how much of that is attributed to Manapul’s role.
BOTTOM LINE: NOT REALLY WORTH $4.99
Overall I was disappointed. I’ve enjoyed The Flash but this issue seemed like a rush, something that needed more time to expand in the regular monthly title. In the end we get a disappointing explanation of the Rogues’ powers, and a fight scene that just sets up next month’s issue. $4.99 is too high a price point for what you get. I normally would have waited a month to purchase this on my iPad for a dollar cheaper, but even then that would have been too much. The art is what really saves this issue for me, but art is nothing without a good story behind it. Maybe they’ll do better next year. The Flash Annual #1 gets 2 out of 5 stars.