Sunday, February 24, 2013
The Flash #7
"Into the Light"
Story by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul
Colors Brian Buccellato
Letters Wes Abbott
Assistant Editor Darren Shan
Editor Brian Cunningham
Another solid cover by Manapul and Buccellato. I like how it shows exactly what's happening in the book. The Flash is getting beat up by Captain Cold, Patty is falling off a crashing boat, and something mysterious is happening to Iris. Manapul is developing into an excellent story teller through small, detailed images.
The black-and-white version is as equally detailed and beautiful as the colored version. It's very easy to take this artwork for granted. I have to occasionally read something else to remind myself of what a treat The Flash is.
The variant cover is by Dale Keown. It's a more symbolic representation of the fight inside, which I think is a very appropriate thing for a variant cover to do. The artwork here is really well done, but I think the Flash needs to tone it down a bit with that expression. It looks like he got an icicle shoved up his butt. Maybe he did?
Anyway, the story starts now, i.e., right where issue #6 left off, with Patty Spivot hanging on for dear life as the boat she's on is crashing into the frozen river. As Flash watches this, he remembers the first time they met — how intelligent and beautiful she was, how forgiving she was of his obsessive-compulsive tendencies and how good she smells. It took her less than a year to become the senior blood analyst in the lab, but it took Barry two years to get the courage to ask her out. Now he doesn't know what he'd do without her.
Nine seconds ago ... Patty is looking for Barry on the boat. She thought he had just gone to the bathroom.
Eight seconds ago ... Captain Cold is standing on the Flash's chest, who has an icicle in his shoulder, pinning him to the ice. Flash tells Cold this isn't like him, and asks why he's doing this.
Seven seconds ago ... On the first half of the boat that fell, Iris West and three other people are picking themselves up, realizing they're safe now.
Six seconds ago ... Patty and two others continue looking for Barry while their half of the boat begins to tip.
Five seconds ago ... Cold stands on the icicle in Flash's shoulder, driving it deeper in. He simply says, "Things change."
Four seconds ago ... Iris and the others get a good view of the rest of the boat breaking free of the ice pillar and falling toward the river.
Three seconds ago ... Patty almost falls off, but a fellow passenger grabs her hand.
Two seconds ago ... Flash pushes Cold off with a mini-vortex.
One second ago ... The boat hits the river, crashing through the ice, while the Flash chases after it.
Right now. The Flash reaches Patty, but Dr. Elias' warning system tells him he's now moving fast enough to create a wormhole.
The Flash is able to save the three people on that half of the boat, but Patty asks him where Barry is. Flash lies and says Barry is safely on the other half of the boat. As soon as he says this, a wormhole opens, sucking up that part of the boat with Iris and three others. Flash runs and jumps, trying to save Iris, but his fingers just miss hers, and she disappears.
Flash hits the ground hard and angry. He finds Captain Cold, who had fallen in the water and accidentally frozen himself, and pulls him out, yelling, "You! You made me do this!" The Flash starts to punch Cold in the face repeatedly, which actually frees him from the ice. Once he can talk, Cold tells Flash about his sister, who is dying of a brain tumor because of the blackout Flash caused. Flash calms down and tells Cold he knows what it's like to lose someone you care about, but you need to know where to draw the line. He says he's working on a solution to get power back to the city, and he tells Cold that if he surrenders peacefully, he'll do everything in his power to save his sister.
Flash immediately heads to Dr. Elias' lab to use his giant treadmill, which should be able to siphon off any residual speed force energy and use it to re-power the metro area. Flash makes Elias promise to take an energy cell to help Lisa Snart, then he ignores the doctor's warning and runs too fast. The Flash opens a wormhole and goes into it, hoping he can find and save Iris and the others.
In Africa, there is a city of talking gorillas. Several old, white-haired gorillas are performing a religious ritual, and they say the second coming is upon them. Watching from a distance is the king, his son and his general. The general calls the elders fools, shackled by destiny, but the king tells him destiny is what brought them into being — it's scripture. The prince agrees with the general, though, and says, "We are meant to conquer the world! We must grab destiny by the neck ... and squeeze."
In Central City, Captain Cold, wearing high-tech handcuffs, is escorted by the police to visit his sister, who is recovering from brain surgery. The doctor tells them she has full cognitive functions, but there was some damage to her nervous system and it's unlikely she'll ever walk again. Leonard (Cold) is overjoyed to see she's alive, but Lisa tells him he should've let her die.
We then cut to Patty visiting Director Singh's apartment. Patty was just at Forrest's, but she couldn't handle all the grieving. Singh lets her in and pours her a drink, and Patty immediately starts blaming the Flash for creating the wormhole that killed Barry. Patty then compliments a collection of flutes in Singh's house, but he says they aren't his. He agrees with Patty that the Flash is reckless and dangerous and Patty rags on him some more, saying he's gotta be held accountable. Eventually, Singh tells her this won't bring Barry back, and she breaks down in tears. She never told Barry that she loved him. Just then, the city lights turn back on.
We then jump to the Flash, who has ran through the wormhole only to find himself in a very strange place. The ground is made up of a bunch of floating rocks and the sky is a series of swirling images from the Flash's life. He sees his mom putting on his bow tie before his spelling bee, the crime scene of her murder, him graduating from Central University with his friend Manuel, him becoming the Flash and meeting Patty. Flash asks aloud if he's dead, but a person behind him says, "Not yet ... but if you don't get me outta here, you will be!" The person is a black guy, who has put the Flash in a headlock and surrounded himself with a little yellow tornado.
The art. There were some really nice, vibrant colors here with the boat crashing, Captain Cold fight, wormholes and the Speed Force. I also loved how the words "DC Comics Proudly Presents The Flash" were hidden on the title page. I really didn't notice them the first time around.
The story. We got it all here: action, romance, compassion, mystery, plus tons of little details that will play a bigger role later on. I really like how Manapul didn't try to cram the Captain Cold fight into one issue. It ended on a good cliff hanger last issue, then wrapped up decently in this issue, still leaving enough room to adequately set things up for future adventures.
Subtle introductions. This book hinted at lots of exciting developments to come at a later date. There's Captain Cold and his sister, a city of talking gorillas, a mysterious flute collection in Singh's apartment, a strange Speed Force world that already has at least one person in it, plus Iris and a few others. Each one of these developments has the potential to become an amazing story in its own right (and having read a few issues in advance, I know that they do). I love the strong continuity of The Flash title.
The Patty problem. I guess I could call this a love triangle, but I won't go that far, yet. But it still is quite a fascinating situation. Patty loves Barry, but now she thinks the Flash killed him, so now she hates her boyfriend's alter ego. Also, I find it interesting that the Flash immediately went to save Iris before letting Patty know that he's alright. In the pre-52 universe, Barry Allen was married to Iris West. I have been enjoying this new romance with Patty, but it looks like the seeds have been planted for Barry to break up with Patty and start dating Iris.
From where I am now in the comics (just read issue #16), it is clear that issue #7 is a pivotal issue in the series. From #1 through #5, almost everything was strictly contained to the Mob Rule story. But now that that's over, Manapul and Buccellato have stretched out a bit and have started setting things up for story lines far in advance. And several of these things still haven't been resolved ten issues later. They're no longer going from story arc to story arc, but building one long, glorious continuous narrative. This issue really is an important turning point for the title, and for that, I will add a "bonus point" and give this issue a perfect score.
Final score: 10 out of 10
Next: Introducing Turbine! And the secret of the Speed Force!