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Comic Book Review: The Flash #1 by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul

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Flash #1 with Barry Allen back in the red costume just hit the stands today, and I got a chance to read it. After the Flash: Rebirth mini-series, I’ve been really excited to find out what Geoff Johns would do with the Silver Age hero I grew up with. After reading this issue, with all the twists and turns and character setups, I think fans are in for a rollicking ride filled with fun and a constant tip of the hat to the old days.

The opening pages are breathtaking and really establish Central City as much different than Batman’s Gotham City or Superman’s Metropolis. Given Johns’ ability to create new things from the old mythos, I’m willing to bet that Central City becomes as big a character as Barry Allen.

The opening pages also let the reader know that Iris Allen is going to be a big part of this series. I’m ecstatically happy about that. I’ve always enjoyed their relationship because Barry was such a down-to-earth guy. In some ways his powers rival those of Superman, and he can be as good-natured as Clark Kent, but there was always something about Barry Allen that spoke to the average guy.

The chase sequence in the opening is fun and gives fans an idea of what Johns is going to bring back to the series. Wally West tended to be kind of dark at times, but Barry is just laidback about everything. I loved how he just reached out and plucked the bullet from the air on the Trickster’s car. However, disassembling the car in mid-air was a big much. It look cool, but I would have thought the Flash would have created an air cushion under it to lower it to the ground. As it is, he turns it into a huge mass of flying shrapnel.

But, I gotta admit where he save the young boy from flying debris, then says, “Hey, kid. Name’s the Flash. Nice to meet ya.” is simply awesome. That’s the Barry I remember. No fanfare, no celebration, just as modest as always. Yet Central City celebrates the Flash like no other city embraces their hero. Cool stuff.

I especially enjoyed the sequences at the police department. Barry’s work as a crime scene investigator get some serious time, and I hope that continues. With all the interest in all things CSI, it’s fun to have a hero steeped in that. And I like that no matter how fast the Flash is, he’s working in a profession that can’t be speeded up and is governed by unbreakable physical laws. Since Barry’s been gone for a while on “witness protection,” (the story that’s put into place for him to cover his absence), things have changed in the department, and we’re gonna see those stories as well.

No Flash story would be complete without the Rogue’s Gallery, though, and they definitely are in the pages of this issue. Mirror Master, Captain Cold, Captin Boomerang, The Trickster, The Weather Wizard, and others get mentioned in this first arc, and it definitely looks like they’re going to be the subject matter.

I’m kind of on the fence regarding Francis Manapul’s art. It’s very dynamic and colors up well, but it’s loose and the characters are a little more cartoony than I’d expected. Ethan Van Sciver’s art was beautiful in Rebirth, but a monthly book might have proven impossible for him. With Johns’s compact writing and lean presence on the pages, though, the art looks more outstanding, so we’ll see how much it grows on me.

The highlight for me, though, was watching the Flash costume pop out of Barry’s ring. I’d forgotten how much I missed that simple image. But it’s back, people, and so is Barry Allen. Long may he run.

About Mel Odom

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/troy-mayes/ Troy Mayes

    Wow that image from the comic you posted looks amazing, i’ve always wanted to like the Flash, for the reasons you’ve mentioned, but never got into it