REVIEW: Flash #15

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Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash has been through the wringer over the last few months: his best friend Doctor Elias Darwin has betrayed him, Barry was forced to fake his death, and the Rogues have returned. Also, Gorilla (or King) Grodd and his gorilla army invades Central City as Flash battles the Rogues. Could anything get worse for the speedster?

FLASH 15 coverFLASH #15
Writer: Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul
Artist: Francis Manapul and Marcus To
Letterer: Carlos Mangual
Colorist: Brian Buccellato and Ian Herring
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Flash: King Grodd has the Speed Force. While he chases down the Flash, Flash’s allies deal with their own problems. The Rogues are still trying to hold off the gorilla army. Iris West is stuck in the Speed Force as her brother Daniel looks for her after being released on parole. His friends Patty Spivot and Captain Daryl travel with Turbine to the Central City Zoo where they meet Solovar, a time traveling ape. They arrive to Flash’s rescue, only for Solovar to die protecting Barry from Grodd’s killing blow.

PREDICTING MULTIPLE FUTURES

Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul continue their arc involving King Grodd and his army invading Central City. Flash, having been badly beaten by a Speed Force powered King Grodd, is taken to a friend’s house to recuperate. Meanwhile, his opponent King Grodd is weakened by the loss of the Speed Force. He retreats to Dr. Elias laboratory to consume more Speed Force energy. Grodd with the Speed Force in this issue is hauntingly similar to a drug user. His addiction fuels his established ideology of ape dominance and birthright. If Grodd was not a tyrannical species-ist, I would pity the villain’s obsession. In this issue there is too much going on at once. During the invasion, the narrative is chaotic with very little action, jumping from the Rogues to King Grodd, from Daniel West to Flash healing. It is disappointing considering the grand fight scenes in the previous issues.

One positive development is Flash learning to use his “speed mind” power to see alternate time lines. It is an ability that broadens Barry Allen’s superpower repertoire. As he adjusts to his new power, the comic follows a recurring theme, having the Flash recall lessons in his past to help him solve problems. In this issue, it is his mother reminding him to “slow down”. I am not a big fan of time travel since, if not done properly, it leaves loop holes. However, Buccellato and Manapul use a different approach to time travel; Barry dreams the alternate possibilities before reacting rather than experiencing them himself in reality.

DIFFERENT ARTISTS, DIFFERENT STYLES

Flash #15 employs two different artists. In most situations, using two art styles messes with the reader. It can affect the consistency of the narrative, hindering the flow of the comic book. After the first read, I did not notice the art style change. After examining the issue more closely, Marcus To did the interiors for a majority of the comic. Francis Manapul did dream sequence art. The differences are in the details, like colors. While Marcus To uses digital, solid artwork, Manapul’s colors are more vibrant and smoother. Both artists do a good job filling their respective roles.

BOTTOM LINE: SLOW AND STEADY

It is another solid issue by the Flash team. Although there are a lot of stories to juggle and very little advancement in regards to the plot, both the writers and the artists keep the comic consistent and balanced. With all this conflict, how it all gets resolved at the end is anyone’s guess.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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