Sunday, August 2, 2015

Green Lantern #38


Leave

Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciller: Aduira Wijaya
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Billy Tan and Alex Sinclair
Associate Editor: Darren Shan
Group Editor: Matt Idelson

The cover gives us a simple, yet nice image of Hal Jordan walking away from his former girlfriend, Carol Ferris. I haven't read enough Green Lantern to fully appreciate the emotion of this image, but it looks nice enough. Something sort of like this happens inside, which is a plus; but the cover was not drawn by the inside artist, which is a minus.

Our story begins with Hal Jordan being granted a leave from his Green Lantern duties, having just saved the universe from the whole Godhead fiasco, albeit in a controversial way. So Hal returns to Earth, where he runs into Guy Gardner at Pancho's bar. They yell at each other for a bit, drink some beer and play some pool before Barry Allen suddenly arrives. Barry says he couldn't resist making the short trip a couple of states away to catch up with an old friend he hasn't seen in years. But this confuses Hal, who points out he hasn't been away from the Justice League for more than a few months at most.


The future Barry Allen manages to change the subject with more beer and pool. He kicks Guy's butt while bragging about his knowledge of physics, and doesn't seem too worried about who sees him use his super speed. Barry also tells Hal about how Central City was nearly destroyed by the Crime Syndicate, an event Hal completely missed while being off world.

As the booze flows, so do the emotions, and future Barry gets quite sentimental with Hal. Barry compares Hal to Superman and Batman, saying that of the three of them, Hal is only one to really nail down the perfect balance between the hero and the man. Barry then accidentally spills a pitcher of beer on some thugs, and although he offers to buy them a round, they're quite upset. Sensing an impending fight, Guy cracks a pool cue over one thug's head, and a full-out brawl erupts.

The three superheroes allow themselves to lose to the thugs and are thrown out of the bar. Barry thinks he broke his nose, and Guy is having the time of his life. But Hal is furious. He shouts at his friends, saying he was hoping for a quiet night away from the Justice League and the Green Lantern Corps. Carol Ferris then arrives, and Guy and Barry decide to give the former lovebirds some room. Guy wants to keep the party going with Barry, but he says he should probably return to Patty. And the issue ends with a lengthy conversation between Hal and Carol, which has nothing to do with Barry.

The Good:

Future Flash. As far as I can tell, this is the only non-Flash issue to acknowledge the fact that the current Barry Allen has been replaced by an insane future version of himself. And I guess we have Robert Venditti to thank for this, since Geoff Johns sure didn't mention it in Justice League. Speaking of which, the continuity between The Flash, Green Lantern and Justice League is a bit convoluted on this point. The only way I can make sense of it is to say the Amazo Virus happened before the future Flash arrived and this issue. And Hal Jordan's triumphant return at the end of Justice League #39 must have happened after this issue and after the current Flash returns to his proper time. A bit messy, I know, but this is what happens when a team title refuses to acknowledge developments in any of the individual titles.

The Bad:

Awkward writing. As demonstrated in The Flash, Venditti often has trouble conveying certain pieces of information in a natural manner. He often makes characters say stupid things that they shouldn't be saying. One big example in this issue is Hal acting surprised when Barry said a quick trip was only a couple of states away. C'mon, Hal! You know he's the Flash! And Barry (recklessly) just barely demonstrated his super speed right in front of you! Venditti's work is full of too many moments just like this, which is one reason why I'm so down on this creative team's run.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: We'll return to the future Barry Allen trying to acclimate to life 20 years in his past in The Flash #37.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Flash #36


Castaways

Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth (Pages 1–2, 12–16), AndrĂ© Coelho (Pages 3–11, 17–20) Pencillers
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Taylor Esposito Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
This issue is dedicated to the memory of André Coelho

As the dedication implies, this is the final work of Coelho, who died shortly after completing the pencils for this issue. Rapmund reported that he only lived long enough to see two of these pages fully inked. Strangely, I haven't been able to learn the cause of death, but I do know the Brazilian artist was 35 when he passed.

Once again, we are given a cover that depicts a scene that happened last issue. The Flash was chased around by this very dinosaur, but the beast was soon killed by a futuristic robot. So why is he being chased again? As is usually the case with Booth's work, this cover seems pretty exciting upon an initial glance. But the more I look at it, the more I find fault with it. That dinosaur is pretty wonky looking, and it's jaw seems to be stretched open too wide. The Flash is in a very unnatural pose, and I hate how his fingers are interlocked with the dinosaur's teeth. He could only have lined up his fingers like that through a conscious, deliberate action, which is completely nonsensical for someone running for his life. And, of course, the speed/lightning effects should not be present, since Barry currently doesn't have his super speed.

Now, beyond conventional time and space, we pick right up with the powerless and injured Barry Allen. He was saved from the dinosaur by the robot, but now the robot seems intent on killing him, as well.


Barry tries to run, but trips, and is reminded once again that he can't tap into the Speed Force. Suddenly, he is saved by a shirtless man, who has a large lightning-shaped scar on his chest. He teaches Barry that the best way to avoid these robots is to stop moving, since they apparently can only detect motion.

Now, at the Utah Salt Flats, Blue Flash is quite pleased that the Speed Force has finally been sealed. Surprisingly, he feels better than he has in years, so he has his computer run a medical scan on himself. Turns out he has suddenly become 20 years younger, possibly because the Speed Force attempted to correct the incongruence of when two versions of Barry Allen existed in close proximity for an extended period of time. Whatever the cause, Blue Flash understands that this means he can pick up his old life just as he left it two decades ago.

Blue races home, where Patty Spivot has just finished cleaning up the bowl of cereal Barry dropped. Blue is overjoyed to see his long-lost girlfriend, and he swoops her up in a romantic kiss, causing the broken bowl to fall again. Patty is happy to finally receive some affection from her boyfriend, but she is shocked to his new costume that has the watch she gave him sewn into it. Blue lamely says he was working on it for a while and wanted something to remind him of Patty. She tells him the watch was intended to help him keep track of time as Barry Allen, and she shoves him off toward the bathroom to shower and shave before they'll be late for work.

At the Central City Police Department Downtown Precinct, Blue agrees to take Patty to a movie that night, as long as it isn't a horror — he says he sees enough bad things in real life and doesn't need it in fiction also. When Blue walks inside, he is pleased and surprised to see 12-year-old Wally West waiting for him. Apparently the teachers are off today, and since Iris is busy, she asked Barry yesterday to watch over her nephew (because Barry is never busy at his job).

Blue offers to take Wally on a tour of the place, but he's initially hesitant, due to his recent run-ins with the law. But Blue tells him to put the past behind him and only focus on the present. He drags the boy to the garage (after being reminded by Patty where it is), and Wally is quite impressed by the fleet of armored vehicles and helicopters. Wally is introduced to a man named Tim, who offers to show him how to take apart an engine one day.

Next stop on the tour is the crime lab, where Blue runs into Director David Singh, who is predictably angry with Barry for being late when they have so much work to do. But Blue catches his boss off guard by offering to take him on a double date to a Diamonds game sometime. James Forrest is shocked to see that Barry has seemingly forgot that Singh despises him. And when Forrest learns that Wally is the nephew of the even more despised Iris West, he asks Blue if he's looking for excuses to get fired now.

Blue sits down at his old desk, and tells Wally he's going to use science, not guns, to find the bad guys. He says he wants to find someone who always managed to stay a step ahead — the only one who ever escaped him — but first, he wants to go after someone he knows. Wally asks whether their database can find his mom, and he begins to cry as Blue promises to find her.

Later, Blue takes Wally to a coffee shop to meet up with Iris. Forgetting about inflation, Blue gives the kid $50 for a cup of coffee. Iris complains about being stuck writing about fines for improper trash disposal, but Blue wants to talk about Wally's mom. Iris believes she just saw a chance to ditch her family and ran off. Blue is a little taken aback by this attitude, but Iris says a career in journalism has shown her the selfish side of people.

Blue then slides Iris a piece of paper, containing a pretty huge story. Iris is shocked that boy scout would suddenly start leaking secrets, but Blue says this story is too important to go unreported. Iris is shocked when she reads the paper, and is thrilled at what the story will do for her career. Blue then heads off, promising Wally once more that he'll find his mom.

We check back in with the current Barry Allen. Once the robot turns its back on Barry and his savior, the shirtless man leaps out of the bushes and tears it apart with his knife. He shows Barry the inside of the sentry, which reveals it was created by LexWayne in 2317 (interesting to see that the LexCorp-WayneTech merger would create a company strong enough to last 300 years). Barry is completely flabbergasted to see something from the future (even though he just fought the future version of himself).

The shirtless man introduces himself as Selkirk, and says he knows a thing or two about speedsters. Barry finally figures out he's in the Speed Force (even though it looks nothing like the last time he visited it). Selkirk notes how the Speed Force was ruptured, causing all sorts of craziness in their world, but now it seems the rupture has been sealed. Barry suspects that's the reason why he's stuck here, but he's mainly concerned with where his powers went and how he can get home. Selkirk tells him he can't get home, and he leads Barry to his wooden fortress.

In Central City, Patty passes out with a glass of wine and a rom-com on the TV. Once she's asleep, Blue throws on his costume and races over to a young man's room that is decorated with posters of violent movies such as "Friday the 14th" and "The Joker II." Blue Flash vibrates through the wall, and gives the young man, Kyle, a very long-winded lecture that is more for the reader than for him. Blue talks about how odd it is to return to his work from 20 years ago and to talk with a friend he knows will die within the next year.

Blue Flash tells Kyle that he was the straw that broke the camel's back, the case that caused Barry Allen to lose faith in the justice system. In Blue's time, Kyle apparently killed eight people, but got off free on a technicality, despite Barry's best efforts as a crime scientist. From that point on, Blue decided to take matters into his own hands, and began to kill those he couldn't bring to justice. Kyle tries to defend himself with a gun, but Blue Flash easily catches the bullets and explains that he's going to take down every murderer who ever escaped justice. Blue Flash then kills Kyle by vibrating his hand through his heart.

The Good:

It was slightly amusing to see future Barry struggle to adapt to life in the past. And I am curious to see which friend of his is going to die within a year. Is it Patty, Singh, Forrest? I could see any one of those happening. But that's about all the good I have to say about this issue. I did like Coelho's art for the most part, especially how he made Wally actually look like a 12-year-old. But he made Iris' hair too short and her breasts way too big.

The Bad:

Convenient transformation. Venditti and Jensen wanted future Flash to replace current Flash, so they did it. With very little explanation, they just made Blue 20 years younger physically. I guess if you're going to do that, then you might should also probably affect him mentally. I think it would make more sense that way, and it could be pretty interesting to see the future Flash deal with his fading, confusing memories and unexplained violent tendencies. And then the resultant confusion and self-doubt when the real Flash finally does come back. But instead, we get this awkward and haphazard instance of the writers trying to have their cake and eat it, too.

Iris West. Just how selfish has this woman become? All she ever does lately is look for excuses to dump Wally off on Barry and complain about her career. She used to be a sweet-hearted ethical journalist. But then she got a haircut (an apparently a boob job) and has become a complete jerk. If Venditti and Jensen are trying to set her up as Barry's next girlfriend, they are going about it in the completely wrong way.

The Speed Force. Instead of building on Francis Manapul's and Brian Buccellato's stylized vision of the Speed Force, this creative team threw that notion out the window and went with something much more generic and boring. And there's not even a hint as to why this version is different from the established New 52 Speed Force. There were also a couple of missed opportunities here, such as the return of the forgotten Turbine, or even making this mystery man the New 52 version of Savitar instead of some guy named Selkirk.

Final score: 2 out of 10

Next time, we'll take a look at the one and only non-Flash issue that acknowledges the future Barry, Green Lantern #38.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Flash #35


The Flash #35

Out of Time

Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Dezi Sienty Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

Our cover shows the type of fight I was hoping for last issue. The two versions of the Flash are actually battling at high-speed — popping around and hitting each other all over the place. I think Booth could have done a better job with the current Flash's face, but it's not a huge problem. All in all, it's a fairly decent cover as far as this art team is concerned.

Our story picks right up where we left off, with the blue future Flash arriving in Central City now. He's still standing in the middle of the road, calculating how damaged the Speed Force is. A bunch of cars pass him by, including a Kord brand truck (in honor of one of the old Blue Beetles, Ted Kord). One guy in a fancy sports car is unable to pass Blue, and he demands the hero step out of the way because he's in a hurry. Blue Flash takes offense to this, and pulls the man out of his car. Luckily, the civilian is saved by Blue's computer, which reports that the Speed Force damage is only at 3.78 percent, below the hypothesized need of 4.22 percent to fix. Satisfied with this report, Blue Flash takes off, leaving the frightened and confused man behind.

We then check in with the current Barry Allen, who is enjoying his morning bowl of cereal, which he's eating from a custom Flash bowl. Suddenly, he's stolen away by Blue Flash. His Flash cereal bowl shatters on the ground, waking up Patty Spivot, who was sleeping in a long Flash T-shirt. I wonder just how much Flash paraphernalia Barry has in his apartment. Anyway, Blue Flash takes Barry out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. This Barry also thinks Blue is Daniel West, but Blue Flash delays revealing his identity until he shows his past self the damage they've caused to the Speed Force.


Blue Flash then tells Barry that he's himself from 20 years in the future. He explains how the rift in the Speed Force only grows through the years, causing him to lose more time each day, eventually leading to the death of Wally West. Blue says it took him years to realize the Speed Force was leaking, and it took him even more years to find the tear. By the time he found it, it was too big to fix; but he developed a theory to seal it up when it was smaller by creating a large detonation of Speed Force energy.

Current Barry is a bit confused, but is willing to help his future self. Blue is happy to hear this, and punches his past self in the face, telling him he's going to be the sacrifice. Barry says there must be another way, but Blue says only his death will create a large enough charge to fix the Speed Force. As the two speedsters fight, Blue says he's spent some time learning how to actually fight from Deathstroke, Lady Shiva and Batman. He also mocks Barry for his antiquated views on virtue always winning.

Barry then tries a new tactic, arguing that the future Flash can't kill him because he'll erase himself from existence, as seen in Back to the Future. But Blue says time travel doesn't work that way — since he's already removed from the time stream, any changes to the future won't affect him. It also means that going back far enough to prevent himself from being born won't fix the Speed Force — it has to be healed.

So current Barry decides to get serious and throws on his red Flash outfit. But he's no match for his future self, who easily defeats him and mocks his past, clothing suit. Blue says his new suit is much better, but he won't hurt people to show off like Plague and Overload — two villains the current Flash hasn't met yet. Blue picks up Red and holds him up to the tear, while he attempts to replicate the same burst he experienced last issue.

Suddenly, Blue Flash is knocked down by none other than an adult Wally West wearing a silver suit. Wally explains that he spent years training his powers so he could come back and prevent the twisted version of Barry from causing any more damage. As the current Barry lies injured on the ground, Wally dodges all of Blue Flash's attacks and jokes about how confusing it is to refer to the future in the past tense. But Blue is able to fire some shrapnel from his suit at Red. Wally figures the only way to save the good Barry is to run in front of the shrapnel, which he takes in the chest and is mortally wounded.

Red Flash isn't doing too well either, as his body starts converting to energy and is pulled into the Speed Force. The injured Wally crawls over to his mentor, and says he'll absorb Barry's Speed Force energy to save him. Wally's plan works, and his body is converted to energy. Before he's pulled into the Speed Force, he urges Barry not to give up on his younger self, saying he only became a hero because he learned it from Barry.

When Wally dies, there's a large strike of lightning, and the healed, but powerless Red Flash falls into the Speed Force before it seals itself up. Blue Flash stands alone in the Salt Flats, asking for Wally's forgiveness. And his computer tells him the Speed Force is now functioning normally, and it is impossible for him to return to his own timeline.

Far, far away, Red Flash wakes up in a jungle with his cloth-like costume torn to shreds. The sudden appearance of a dinosaur leads Barry to believe he's been thrown into the far past. As he tries his best to escape without his super speed, a flying robot arrives and vaporizes the dinosaur. It scans the confused Barry, and says, "Unauthorized presence detected. Exterminate."

The Good:

The Salt Flats. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato introduced the idea of Flash using the Salt Flats as a sort of Fortress of Solitude. And it makes a lot of sense, since a lot of land speed records have been set on that salt. The Salt Flats were also the site of all the craziness that went down with the Reverse-Flash, so it was great to see Venditti and Jensen build on that. However, I do think it's a little silly that it took Blue Flash years to find the tear in the Speed Force since he should have started his search at the Salt Flats. Or maybe Gorilla City, but it shouldn't have taken him so long to investigate such a significant area.

The Bad:

Flash's costume. Booth has been drawing it like it was made of cloth ever since he took over this title. And now Venditti and Jensen threw in dialogue actually referring to it as cloth. But the New 52 version of this costume was always, specifically armor. Manapul and Buccellato referenced that fact several times. But I guess this current creative team either ignored that fact or deliberately decided to change it without giving a reason why. Both scenarios make me angry.

The fight between the two Flashes wasn't nearly as good as advertised on the cover, but it was a big improvement over the Futures End fight. And this fight had the added bonus of Wally joining the fray and stupidly allowing himself to be killed. I really wish we would have had that Futures End scene right at the beginning of this story arc, and spend the next five or six issues showing Wally train and search for the evil Flash. That would have been a lot better than watching him randomly kill some former Rogues and prevent others from committing suicide. What we got here wasn't bad — it just wasn't good. All the stuff with the Speed Force didn't make much sense, but I think it made just enough to get by. It also would have made more sense for the Blue Flash to be willing to sacrifice himself — after all, he did express a desire to prevent his own birth. But this is consistent with this character, who has failed to make a single rational move this entire story arc.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next: The Flash — all new, all-murderous!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Futures End: The Flash #1


Impact Velocity

Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Pat Brosseau Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

This issue fell under DC's big event of September 2014. Not only did all the issues take place five years in the future (for some inane reason), but they also received 3-D covers, which were admittedly better than the 3-D covers of 2013. Unfortunately, the digital copy of this issue only gives us the Wally West version of the cover. The physical copy of this issue had Wally alternate between the current version of the Barry Allen Flash, depending on which angle you viewed the cover from. I have to admit, I don't hate Wally's silver suit. I might hate everything else about this character, but I don't hate the suit.

The following story veers into rather confusing time travel areas. So to try to reduce some of the confusion, I will present an abbreviated timeline. These comics refuse to give a baseline year for the "now," and only refer to things as "five years from now" or "20 years from now." For simplicity's sake, I will assign the year 2012 to the "now" referred to in this story arc. I picked that year by working with the assumption that The Flash #1 took place in 2011 (the year it actually came out). I surmise that all the adventures Flash had from that issue to now could not have taken much more than a year. Remember that comic book time moves much more slowly than it does in real life. For example, the Forever Evil event took about eight months to complete, although the actual story took place over just a couple of days.

At the end of Flashpoint, Barry inadvertently created a new timeline. I will call this Timeline A. In Timeline A, Wally West is killed in 2017. The Trickster accidentally kills a young family and commits suicide in 2019. Captain Cold dies of cancer in 2024. Mirror Master accidentally kills 11 people in 2028. And in 2032, Barry kills Gorilla Grodd and begins his journey back in time, thereby creating Timeline B, which we will experience firsthand in this issue. The main events happen five years from now (2017), involving the current Barry of the time who still wears a red suit. And he's visited by the blue-suited Barry of 20 years from now (2032). I will call the '17 version Red Flash, and the '32 version Blue Flash. And I may have made things more complicated. Let's just dive in then.

Five years from now, 87 miles northwest of Peshawar, Pakistan, Red Flash rescues a bus full of people from a landslide. With everybody safe, he tunes in to the Central City police band to see if he's missed anything back home. Unfortunately he has. Daniel West, aka the Reverse-Flash, has escaped from Iron Heights and is tearing things up. Flash uses his fancy new computer to help him calculate that he'll lose four minutes, 13 seconds by tapping into the Speed Force to run the 7,804 miles back home. As Barry races back home, he worries how many lives he sacrificed to Daniel's rampage in order to save 53 people in Pakistan.

In Central City, Blue Flash has Reverse-Flash by the throat, and explains that he came back from the future to spare Daniel from making the biggest mistake in his life — killing Wally and putting Iris in a wheelchair. Blue Flash explains that Wally and Iris are currently driving out to try to talk Daniel down. But in their desperation and haste, they "never even thought to activate their restraints," nor did they notice that the road was torn apart by Daniel's rampaging. Right on cue, Iris' car hits a pothole at top speed and flips into the air.


Daniel begs for Blue Flash to release him so he can save his family, but Blue says, "I get to be the hero" and snaps Daniel's neck. Blue then saves Iris and Wally at the last second, and explains that they were nearly killed by Daniel, but he's made sure Daniel will never be able to hurt them again. Iris and Wally see Daniel's dead body and are devastated. Before Blue Flash can properly explain himself, Red Flash arrives.

Red initially thinks Blue is Reverse-Flash wearing a new costume, but Blue removes his mask to show Red, Wally and Iris that he is Barry Allen. Blue explains that the Speed Force is broken, causing him to lose time whenever he runs. He says this prevented him from saving Wally and Iris — a guilt he's lived with the past 15 years. Blue tells Red that the Speed Force was torn open wider every time Daniel, Grodd and himself traveled through time, and now they have to fix it before the Speed Force unravels the very fabric of space and time. Red says there has to be a way to fix it, and Blue says he has a plan to go back far enough to when the rift is small enough to heal.

And then for no apparent reason, Blue Flash says he has to go through Red Flash. Blue punches Red, which causes a big, Speed Force-feedback explosion. Blue punches Red a few more times before saying he didn't come here to kill his past self, but he won't let Red stand in his way. Red Flash figures he has nothing to lose at this point, and grabs Blue's chest emblem to replicate the feedback explosion. For some idiotic reason, Wally decides to run into the middle of this large and dangerous display of light and energy. This explosion is even larger than before, and it causes Blue to disappear, and Red to suffer fatal injuries.

Wally is miraculously unharmed by this, and has conveniently acquired super speed through the ordeal. As Barry lies dying, he tells Wally he felt his future self be pushed to somewhere in the time stream. He urges Wally to train and learn how to use his new powers so he can find where Blue Flash went and stop him. Barry then dies in Wally's arms, and the 17-year-old vows to make the twisted future version of Barry pay for what he's done.

Now, Blue Flash arrives in the current time that I call 2012. He's nearly hit by a truck carrying Waid's Sacs of Meat (a nod to legendary Flash writer Mark Waid). Blue Flash's computer then explains that it took him back in time five years, as per its pre-programming. Blue doesn't quite understand how that happened, but he doesn't care. He's when he wants to be and is ready to end it.

The Good:

Hmm ... you know what? I've got nothing. This was supposed to be a big, shocking story, but I'm not invested in it at all. I'm not worried about Flash or Reverse-Flash being killed because this story takes place five years in the future. And that future is about to be nullified, so what does it matter? And the idea of the Flash fighting himself is a fascinating one, but it was handled so poorly. Instead of running around the world at warp speed, these two speedsters stood in one place and "focused their energy" really hard. It was akin to the notoriously long power-up scenes in Dragon Ball Z, but without the payoff of an actual fight later on. I feel cheated.

The Bad:

Stupid future Flash. Barry really is getting stupider as this series progresses. And by the year 2032, he is a complete moron of the highest degree. First, let's start with his stupid, "futuristic" way of saying seat belts. This is the same Barry that was born in the 1980s and grew up in modern times. How did he get to the point where he says "activate your restraints" instead of "put on your seat belt"? Nitpicking aside, why did Blue Flash feel compelled to kill Red Flash? Before their fight, Red Flash did not give one inkling of wanting to stop Blue Flash. If anything, he wanted to help his future self repair the Speed Force. If Venditti and Jensen really wanted the two Flashes to fight, they should have made sure that Blue Flash said something truly diabolical to get Red Flash to try to stop him. But logically, Blue Flash should have just ran away back to the past as soon as Red Flash showed up. There was no need for him to try to explain anything to those people. But if he did that, then we wouldn't have had Wally getting his powers!

I really don't know what to make of Wally in this issue. Yeah, he and Iris were acting quite stupid, but who wasn't? And I guess it makes sense how Wally got his powers, although it came about in a very convenient and stupid way. But hey, at least Booth actually drew Wally to look 17-years-old this time.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next: Three Flashes enter, one Flash remains!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Flash #34


Collision Course

Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Dezi Sienty Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

Our cover is misleading for several reasons. One, there never was a Mashup Gang — only a Mashup Killer, who used the weapons of these separate villains who had nothing to do with each other. Two, none of these villains are active criminals anymore — they were arrested and had their weapons confiscated. And three, nothing like this scene happens in this issue. Flash does battle Seborn, the singular Mashup Killer. Since he has all these guys' weapons, I guess you could argue that this cover is a symbolic representation of that fight.

Our story picks right up where last issue left off. In Central City's Downtown Precinct, Barry Allen has just deduced that Detective Seborn is the Mashup Killer. Barry's girlfriend, Patty Spivot, can't believe this, saying Seborn is one of the few good cops on the force. But Barry points out all the evidence against him, most notably his fingerprints left at all the crime scenes. A good detective would have been wearing gloves during the investigation. Barry also realizes that Seborn set Barry up to be killed by the Venomed-out Nate Jones once he learned Barry discovered the seventh pair of prints. Patty implores Barry to go to Captain Frye with this evidence — like he should have done at the beginning — but Barry says he has to take down Seborn now. Seborn will soon learn Barry survived the attack, and will likely go after him and his loved ones with his stockpile of deadly weapons.

The Flash runs off into the night and finds Detectives Seborn and Parker investigating a robbery at a ... um ... furry club called The Zoo. Awkward. Anyway, Flash immediately confronts Seborn, calling him the Mashup Killer. Parker says that's a very serious accusation about his partner, but Seborn chooses to immediately turn on the offensive. He pulls a gun on his partner, then teleports away before the Flash can grab him. Flash quickly catches up to Seborn at his car, where he is retrieving more of his stolen weapons. Seborn also takes the time to kindly explain that he used the evidence room to build a criminal empire with its cash, drugs, and weapons, including the Skipper's teleport.

Seborn then knocks down Flash and Parker with a hydro gun of some sort that can create an enormous amount of water/foam/snow. The art isn't particularly clear. As Flash fights his way through the wet stuff, he asks why Seborn went bad. Again, Seborn politely and clearly explains everything. Seborn said he saw many cops get killed during the Crime Syndicate invasion, so he switched sides to survive. He tracked down the crew of six guys he arrested years earlier and convinced them to help him raid the evidence room. Seborn says he didn't care about leaving evidence at all his robberies because he was convinced all the heroes were dead. Flash then puts together the rest of the story, realizing that Seborn tried to seamlessly slip back into the police force when the Justice League did return, but Seborn had to take out his crew before they linked him to the crimes. Flash says that Seborn injected Nate Jones with the homemade Venom and left him to kill Barry Allen. Flash tells Seborn that Allen survived and showed him the evidence against Seborn.

Seborn pulls out the Lasher's whip on the Flash, but it does nothing. So he next tries a glove that fires small rockets full of nails. Flash decides to vibrate through the nails, but when he tries to, he's met by a strange resistance from the Speed Force, which hurts him quite a bit. Seborn tells Flash he never wanted it to go down this way, but he's scared to death of being an ex-cop in Iron Heights Prison. Now that Flash is all beat up, Seborn gets the whip to work and ties up the Scarlet Speedster. Flash tells him it's over, pointing out all the nearby security cameras that have caught the whole thing. But Seborn says since he's already a criminal, then he might as well be the one who killed the Flash.

Parker then shoots Seborn in the arm, saying he wants to make sure his former partner stands trial. Flash makes sure Seborn doesn't have anymore weapons on him, then turns down Parker's request to stick around and answer questions for the authorities. For some reason, Director Singh and Patty are the first to arrive on the scene (I thought their jobs mostly kept them in the office). Parker explains everything that happened, and mentions that the Flash got pretty beat up and bled quite a bit. Singh is suddenly very interested in collecting the Flash's blood to determine his secret identity. Luckily, Patty is the one collecting the blood, so she'll make sure Barry's secret stays safe.

Speaking of Barry, he then casually walks up to the crime scene in his work clothes. Patty pulls him aside and points out that he was almost killed because he didn't take her advice to involve the police on this case. But Barry brushes that off and instead talks about how something's wrong with the Speed Force. It's causing him to lose time, and it prevented him from safely vibrating through the nails. Patty notices Barry is still bleeding through his shirt, so she gives him her jacket and tells him she'll take care of his blood samples to protect his identity. Patty also assures Barry that they'll figure out what's going on with the Speed Force, but she says he needs to stop pushing her away. Barry starts to deny this, but Patty flatly points out that he spends more time fighting crime and hanging out with Wally West than he does with her. Barry apologizes, saying he thought their relationship was the one thing he didn't need to worry about. He promises to do better, but says he has one more thing to do for Wally.

Later, at Iron Heights Penitentiary, Barry has arranged for Iris and Wally to meet Daniel. Normally, Daniel is not allowed any communication from his family — even Wally's letters were sent back — but Barry was able to call in some favors to make this one-time exception. Wally says he wants to prove Daniel's innocence so he can come home, since he and Iris are the only family he has left now. But Daniel shocks the 12-year-old by admitting his guilt. Daniel says the Flash was right to put him in jail, and he's thankful for it since it's given him a chance to learn to be a better man. He encourages Wally to stay out of trouble to avoid ending up like him, and he challenges him to be the first man to do the West name proud.

Wally and Iris walk away in tears, but Barry stays behind. He congratulates Daniel on his performance but regrets he had to bribe him to do it. Daniel vows to one day escape and exact revenge on the Flash and Barry Allen. In the meantime, Daniel threatens to reach out to and corrupt Wally if Barry misses one of his payments, for what must be a rather exorbitant bribe. Meanwhile, Officer Setendjian leads Seborn into his new cell, which he will be sharing with three men he framed for murder — Mogul, Squall and Merge.

Seven years from now, the blue future Flash prevents another past villain from committing suicide. I'm guessing this is the first appearance of the New 52 version of the Top, since the man's name tag says Roscoe, and the Flash's newspaper clipping appears to say, "Spinning killer shoots self." Six years from now, Blue Flash saves five people from a fire; and five and a half years from now, he saves a family from a capsized yacht.

Five years from now, Blue Flash collapses in an alley and has his computer analyze the Speed Force anomaly. The computer says the rupture remains too wide to seal, and recommends he travel back in time an additional five years. But first Blue Flash wants to save Wally, who is currently chasing with Iris chasing after Daniel. I'm not sure how they hope to catch up to the Reverse-Flash in their car, but they're determined to help their family member. Daniel, whose costume is now yellow and black, is screaming for the Flash to show himself. Blue Flash shows up and explains that Flash isn't hiding, just running late. He tells Daniel that he's the result of a lifetime of being late and living with the cost, but now he's going to be the end of both Daniel and himself.


The Good:

Patty Spivot. Yeah, I thought it was stupid how she has to be chasing around Barry's blood and hiding it from Singh. But I absolutely love how she stood up to Barry in this issue. He is spending way too much time with some random kid and his ex-girlfriend. And he's getting really stupid and sloppy with his crime fighting, both as the Flash and as Barry Allen. Patty had every right to rip Barry a new one, but she did it in a kind, loving way. I mean, how many girlfriends take off their coat and give it to their boyfriend? I'm happy Patty is willing to give Barry another chance, but personally, I'm running out of patience with him.

Exciting climax. This is the story we've been waiting for. Wally's death was supposed to be the big event that triggered future Barry's madness, and now we're finally seeing him get ready to prevent that. I would have liked to see more of Blue Flash saving the Top instead of saving a handful of random people. And I am a little confused as to why the future Flash has become progressively kinder the further he travels back in time. If it weren't for Reverse-Flash, I bet he'd be saving kittens from trees now. But I am excited. This definitely feels like Venditti and Jensen have been waiting (possibly even stalling) for this moment, so it's nice to finally have it.

The Bad:

Stupid Barry. Our main hero really is getting stupider each issue. Once again, Barry refused to go to the police when he should have. And once again, Barry put Wally ahead of his girlfriend. "You're right, Patty. I am spending too much time with that Wally kid. I'll make it up to as soon as I do one more, tremendously expensive favor for him." Let that sink in for a moment. Barry is bribing Daniel to scare Wally straight. How far will Barry go for this boy? Did he also bribe the guards to arrange the meeting with Daniel in the first place? And more importantly, what happens when Wally learns that Daniel was bribed to say the right thing? Barry is using a lie to set this boy on the right path. Ugh! I so want to smack Barry right now!

Stupid Seborn. This detective has carefully and cleverly been covering his tracks for a long time now. And with the last member of the crew dead from an apparent self-inflicted drug overdose, the case is officially closed and Seborn is off scot-free. And Barry's proof of the fingerprints isn't enough to overturn that. Seborn can easily claim that the whole department's been overworked, and in his stress and rush, he forgot to wear gloves while investigating the crime scenes. Or he could even argue that the men he once arrested were trying to frame him. But when Flash accuses him of being the Mashup Killer, he doesn't even attempt to deny it. His partner is initially on his side, and Patty mentions corruption in the robbery division, so there's a good chance Seborn could get a few other cops to cover up for him. But instead, Seborn dives into a lackluster fight with the Flash, in which he only teleported once, and was immediately thrown into a cell with three angry criminals who will do unspeakable things to him. Even if all the police in Central City were honest, good cops, they still wouldn't consign a fellow cop to such a gruesome fate. They would make sure Seborn was treated fairly. A better conclusion to this story would have been Barry failing to prove Seborn is the Mashup Killer, but Seborn pulls him aside and whispers the truth, then walks away like business as usual. Then Barry has to constantly be looking over his shoulder, wondering when Seborn will strike.

Unsavory art. I am not a fan of Brett Booth's style. It's all flash and no substance (which I guess is fine for The Flash). All his characters have the exact same tall and thin body type, and he frequently bends them in unrealistic poses. But despite all the minor complaints I have with his work, it usually is done at a fairly high standard. This issue, though, seemed just a notch below his usual standard. It's not quite straight-up sloppiness, but a few things were pretty bad, such as the water that didn't look like water and the 17-year-old Wally looking exactly like the 12-year-old Wally. At least give one of them a different hair style! And the reason I choice the word unsavory was because of the furry club. I don't know who's responsible for throwing that in, and it's really not that big of a deal because the issue didn't dwell on it, but it still felt just a bit off color for me. I know this comic is rated Teen, but what does that even mean? Personally, I would prefer The Flash not to include such things.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next: Five years later — the battle for Wally West's life begins!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Flash #33


A Step Behind

Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Dezi Sienty Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

Our cover shows the Flash fighting a grotesque, monstrous villain, whose muscles are ripping right out of his skin and clothes. It really is quite nasty, and a bit unsettling. But also slightly intriguing. Flash doesn't always get to fight enormously buff guys like this, so I am mildly interested. But the most interesting thing to me is the street sign that says Ringo, which I believe is in honor of the late Flash artist Mike Wieringo, who also co-created my favorite character, Impulse.

Now, in the Central City Police Station, Downtown Precinct, we see that Barry's ever-growing case has finally caught the attention of the big boys in charge. So Captain Darryl Frye and Director David Singh have gathered the whole department together for a briefing. Frye explains that five people have recently been killed, each by a different weapon connected to a costumed criminal. Each of the weapons were among those stolen from the department during the Crime Syndicate attack. And all five victims used to belong to the same criminal group.

Singh says there's only one member of that group still alive, Nate Jones, who is now the department's best suspect to be the "Mashup Killer" — a name Iris West came up with in today's paper. Singh is so upset with Iris' snooping, he threatens to fire anyone he catches talking to the reporter. Barry then tries to present some more information about the case, but the impatient Singh brushes him off. Oddly, Darryl does not speak up on Barry's behalf, as you'd think a police captain would like to have as much information as possible. But one person does want to hear what Barry has to say, and that's Detective Seborn, who arrested the group of six criminals. He tells Barry not to worry too much about Singh, and asks Barry to meet him outside in five minutes.

Barry heads downstairs, and you'd never believe who he runs into. That's right, Iris West. And no, she doesn't want to talk to Barry about the Mashup Killer, but, you've guessed it, her nephew Wally. Iris hacked Wally's Facebook account and discovered plans to commit a robbery with some older kids at 3 p.m. that day. Barry says he's busy working overtime on this case, and Iris makes a note about the station authorizing overtime. She then begs Barry to take care of her nephew, saying they apparently made some great connection at the baseball game. She tells Barry that one of Wally's friends has a red hatchback, and she gives him the license plate number. Finally, Barry reluctantly agrees to once again help this boy he hardly knows.

Barry then meets with Seborn, and tells him he dug up all the old case files of the group of six criminals. He analyzed their fingerprints, and found them consistent with several more recent robberies that also involved weapons stolen from the evidence room. But then Barry noticed a new, seventh pair of fingerprints from the robberies. Seborn and Barry both believe this means someone else has joined the crew, and has as good a chance of being Mashup as Nate Jones does. Seborn tells Barry that an informant is supposed to send him Jones's last known address, but he'll be stuck on surveillance duty all day. So Seborn offers to text the address to Barry once he receives it.

Seven years from now, the future blue Flash catches the Trickster right before he walks into Central City Credit Union. Flash runs Trickster up the side of a skyscraper and says he knows he was planning on depositing robots made from rolls of change to steal the bank's vault. Dangling by his ankle over the edge of the building, Trickster unleashes his robots to attack Flash, and tells the "do-gooder" to put him down. But Flash says he knows Trickster was worried about setting off the bank's alarms, so he didn't wear his flying shoes. And to prove that more than just his costume has changed, the future Flash drops Trickster off the skyscraper.

Now, Barry has received the address from Seborn, and has decided to check out the shady-looking waterfront shack alone, and in his police scientist guise. Barry finds Jones at a table with six vials of glowing green liquid stuck in his chest. Jones is already frothing at the mouth by the time Barry pulls the vials out, and he soon transforms into the gigantic, grotesque monster from the cover.

Seven years later, Blue Flash is fighting off Trickster's coin robots, and one of them has a Jeb Bush dollar for its head (meaning that not only will Jeb Bush become the next president, but will have an impressive enough presidency to earn a spot on the national currency). Luckily for Trickster, he has enough robots to distract Flash and save himself. Unluckily for Trickster, the robots aren't very tough, and Flash easily destroys all of them.

Now, Barry easily avoids the monster Jones, and tries to offer help. But Jones is unwilling, or unable to listen, and continues his attack. Barry wraps Jones in chains, but he breaks free of them and destroys the shack in the process. He seizes a small boat to smash Barry with, but his heart gives out and he collapses. Barry says "I tried to warn you," then notices it's almost 3 o'clock. So he ditches Jones, and calls 911 to the riverfront while he rushes off to something much more important — Wally's wellbeing.

Seven years later, Flash continues to threaten Trickster, until Axel Walker finally screams out and begs for his life. Satisfied, Flash saves them both with a whirlwind, and asks Axel how bad he'd have to feel to want to kill himself. He explains that in his past, Flash wasn't able to stop Trickster from attempting the robbery. Trickster's coin robots weren't strong enough to carry the vault, and it fell on a young family with a one-month old girl, killing them all. Devastated, Trickster jumped off the very skyscraper he was just dangling from. Future Flash shows Axel the newspaper clipping that printed his suicide note, and makes him promise to turn away from a life of crime. Axel agrees, and gives Flash the key to his secret stash of gadgets.

Now, Flash spends a few seconds looking for the red hatchback, but he's shocked to see it's already 3:08 p.m. Turns out Wally and his friends are extremely punctual thieves, and they have already been caught. Flash hears the report on the police scanner, and actually takes Wally away from the police before they can load him into the car. Flash doesn't take Wally far — just around the corner — and apologizes for being too late to prevent the crime. He takes all the blame, and tells Wally to run away. But Wally refuses, saying he'd prefer to share the same fate of his friends. He then makes a stupid quip about Flash liking to lock up Wests, referencing his beloved uncle Daniel. The cops then find Wally just around the corner, and thank Flash for catching him. Flash asks what'll happen to Wally, and they he'll get some leeway since he's so young. But this is the second strike on Wally's record, counting the spray paint incident.

Later, Barry visits his oft-neglected girlfriend, Patty Spivot, who has analyzed the serum Jones injected himself with. It was a homemade derivative of Bane's famous Venom, which was also stolen from the evidence room. Patty says Singh has already declared Jones to be the Mashup Killer, and has closed the case. But this doesn't make any sense to Barry. As he tells Patty what happened, he says it felt like Jones was waiting for him. And when he talks about how Seborn sent him the address, he suddenly gets an idea. Checking the fingerprints on Seborn's mug, Barry is able to confirm that the friendly detective is actually the Mashup Killer.


The Good:

The Seborn/Mashup thing is interesting, but not terribly so. Although I am glad to finally have a name for the case — now that's all but wrapped up. But the real intrigue in this issue came with the future Flash and Trickster. And I'm really torn on it. On one hand, I'm glad that Blue Flash isn't a cold-blooded killer. He's willing to help his villains reform whenever he can. But on the other hand, this makes me retroactively question how he dealt with Mirror Master. That was another case of a Rogue accidentally killing innocent people, but Blue Flash felt Mirror Master deserved to die, while Trickster deserved a second chance. I don't see the logic in this. And maybe that's the point. This future version of the Flash has become twisted past the point of sane reasoning. We've seen him brutally murder two of his former foes, sympathetically watch one of them die from cancer, and convince another to give up a life of crime. And he's supposedly doing all these random deeds on his way to kill his past self, which I think he should have attempted to do first. I can't decide if I like this or not, so I will neither add nor take away a point on this matter.

The Bad:

Jerky Iris. Barry tells her he's busy and is not allowed to talk to her, but she assures him she's not going to press him for details on her story, and proceeds to go into another lengthy sob story about Wally. But as soon as Barry drops one snippet about the case, Iris eagerly jumps on it like the ravenous vermin all too many journalists are equated with. Iris wasn't alway like this. This New 52 series started with her trying to write a negative story about the Flash. But when she couldn't find enough evidence to support that premise, she decided to drop the story. But now she's pissing everybody off for no good reason, and is directly lying to the man she is also coercing into taking care of her nephew. Guess what, Iris? That's your responsibility! Not Barry's! Tell a real police officer about Wally's robbery, not a scientist you happened to date six years ago.

Idiot Barry. Is it me, or is our main character getting stupider as this series goes on? Why didn't he tell anyone else that Seborn found Jones' last known address? Even the irrational Director Singh would have to agree that this is the best lead toward closing the Mashup Killer case. There should have been a full squad of policemen to check out the place. Barry then battles Jones in his street clothes, not taking the millisecond to put on his Flash uniform. He's lucky Jones didn't survive, because that would have been a potentially dangerous criminal who knows the Flash's secret identity. Also, I kind of blame Barry for Jones' death. He sees the monster has no pulse, and basically says, "I told you so." He then takes off to save Wally without even trying to revive the transformed man. And what the heck was he trying to do with Wally?! Kidnapping him from the police? Resisting arrest is a pretty big no-no, and that will only hurt Wally's case. And if Flash really wanted Wally to get away, then why did he only take him like six feet away? At least when Flash tries to break the law, he's really bad about it. And on the bright side, this is the first time I've liked anything about this new Wally. Unlike Barry and Iris in this issue, he actually demonstrated some moral fiber by being willing to accept punishment for his crime.

Final score: 3 out of 10

Next: Showdown!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Green Lantern Corps #37


Godhead Act III, Part II: Transfiguration

Writer: Van Jensen
Artists: Bernard Chang & Mirko Colak
Colorists: Marcelo Maiolo & Tony Avina
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Bernard Chang & Marcelo Maiolo
Associate Editor: Darren Shan
Group Editor: Matt Idelson

I didn't understand this cover until I read the issue. Apparently, Highfather has discovered the Life Equation, and is using it to basically transform the Green Lanterns into his slaves for his upcoming war against Darkseid. But the transformation process doesn't involve this weird little chamber thing — Highfather just blasts them with his staff.

Since I'm coming into the story right in the middle, and the image of the Flash is only shown in two quick panels, I'm going to give a very brief plot summary. The crux of this issue centers on John Stewart and Sinestro being captured and brought before Highfather. Before he brainwashes them, he reveals his plan to travel to Earth and take control of the Justice League to help him defeat Darkseid.


But one of Highfather's generals thinks his leader has become a tyrant, so he rescues John Stewart and Sinestro. And ... yeah, I guess that's really all I have to say about this issue.

The Good:

This certainly is an intriguing concept, and I might have to sit down and read the whole Godhead storyline one day. I really wish Highfather would have made it to Earth and attempted to control the Justice League. Even though we just had the League get taken over by the Joker and the Amazo Virus, I think Highfather would have proven a more worthy and interesting villain. And imagine the weight this story would have had if it crossed over with the Justice League!

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. I guess my biggest complaint with this issue — and by extension, the whole event — is that it presented this really cool plan to take over the Justice League, and then didn't deliver it. That story certainly would have been better than the Amazo Virus, and possibly even better than Forever Evil.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time, we finally, finally get back to the main series with The Flash #33. I had to save all the Flash issues together at the end, since virtually none of the other DC titles referenced the major changes Flash goes through in the next nine issues.