Monday, May 27, 2013

The Flash #14

"Gorilla Warfare Part 2: Last Ape Standing"

Script by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul
Colors by Brian Buccellato
Letters by Carlos M. Mangual
Associate Editor Chris Conroy
Editor Matt Idelson

Once again the letterer on this book has changed, but I didn't notice any difference until I read the credits. I guess that is the mark of a good letterer — be invisible and let the story tell itself. Anyway, on to this great cover by Manapul and Buccellato.

I love how it depicts an action scene that happened immediately after issue #13 ended and right before this issue started, so it's kind of like a missing scene in a way. Flash looks great and Grodd is large and intimidating, but his head is turned slightly and it looks a bit odd. But other than that, it is a great, explosive cover.

Our story begins generations ago in the Virunga Mountains of East Africa. We see some gorillas climb a mountain in a rain storm, while an unknown narrator speaks of evolution and how it is usually a gradual process, but sometimes happens in a flash. One of the gorillas is struck by lightning, but lives.

Today, the Flash is running away from Grodd, who has acquired super-speed after consuming one of Dr. Elias' speed energy battery cells. Flash realizes Grodd can keep up with him, so he stops and turns to fight. Grodd picks up a taxi cab and smashes it on Flash's head, but he vibrates through the car and punches Grodd in the face. But for some reason, possibly due to the two speed energies colliding, the punch causes Flash's costume to crack and crumble off his hand.

Twenty minutes ago, in the Central City Police Department, Turbine is using his powers to push a gorilla pod out of Darryl Frye's office to save him and Patty. Turbine is no longer stuttering, and he explains that King Grodd has launched this invasion to get the Flash's power. He tells Patty he can help her find Barry Allen, but first she has to take him to someone who can help him.

Now. Gorilla pods are still falling out of the sky as paramedics load Dr. Darwin Elias into an ambulance. They are very concerned about losing the savior of Central City. Daniel West, meanwhile, reaches the apartment of his sister, Iris. He breaks the door down, but only finds a pile of mail from three months ago. He looks out the window and sees a ring of fire envelope the city.

We cut to a football stadium, where the gorillas have erected a large pillar on the field, surrounded by several electrical conduits. Chained to the base of the pillar is the lone elder gorilla, who is using the machinery to produce a mental projection that makes Central City appear to be a radioactive crater to the outside world. The elder can't sustain the illusion himself, so the gorillas start filling the stands with people and attaching devices to their heads so the elder can siphon off their mental energies.

Outside the stadium, the Rogues continue battling the gorillas, and Heatwave and Weather Wizard are growing tired of the sibling rivalry between Glider and Captain Cold. They see the gorillas are bringing buses of people to the stadium, and on one of the buses is Barry's old friend, James Forrest. The Rogues then start to take some pride in their city, and instead of finding an exit strategy, Captain Cold formulates a plan to save the city with Mirror Master's help.

We cut back to the Flash, who is wrapping Grodd up in barbwire. Grodd quickly breaks out, and Flash decides he needs to keep his distance until Grodd's speed wears off. But before he can get away, Grodd catches him and smashes the Flash into the ground.

We then find out that the mysterious narrator from the beginning was actually the first gorilla to be touched by the Speed Force. He was able to see the future, and fearing the darkness it brought, he decided to leave his burgeoning gorilla civilization and use his powers to transcend space and time to deliver a message that could save the world. He found Barry Allen, but he arrived fifteen years too soon.

Patty and Turbine arrive at the Central Zoo, where the zookeeper, Mr. White, takes them to see a very strange gorilla. Mr. White tells them that this gorilla seemingly fell out of the sky in a wildlife preserve and immediately killed and devoured an antelope. The gorilla then attacked a safari jeep that contained young Barry and his mom, but luckily nobody was hurt since a ranger was able to tranquilize the beast. When Mr. White brings Patty and Turbine into the gorilla pen, the gorilla in question speaks to them, saying, "I've been waiting a long time ... for you both. My name is Solovar."

Inside the Speed Force, Iris West, Gomez, Marissa and Albert are being chased by a wooly mammoth. Luckily, they are able to take cover in an old Soviet tank.

Back to the fight, Grodd has gained the upper hand on the Flash. With a mighty punch, he smashes off half of Flash's mask, then rips up a stop sign to impale Flash with. Turbine, Patty and Solovar arrive via whirlwind. Solovar tells Patty, "Just remember what I told you. He's going to need you to be there for him." Patty doesn't understand, until she sees the Flash's face.

Before Grodd can deliver the death blow, Solovar sacrifices himself to save the Scarlet Speedster.

The Good:

The story. The tension was palpable in this issue. Once again, Manapul and Buccellato delivered a wonderful, exciting story filled with twists and turns and surprises. I heard a few people complain about the amount of side plots going on right now, but I really enjoy that aspect of this book. It's not just the story of Flash fighting Gorilla Grodd. I thought they did a good job here of reminding us of everything happening and giving us quick updates. All we really needed was a page or a few panels here and there, and for me anyway, that was a great part of this issue. And as a whole, I love this title for being able to juggle so many plot lines.

The art. Fantastic stuff as usual. I always love how these guys handle flashbacks, and the "hidden" words on the title page were loads of fun. Grodd looked great on every page inside, and I guess the only reason he looked a little off on the cover was because Manapul had to draw that so far ahead of time and wasn't really used to drawing Grodd at that point. But anyway, even if you're not a huge fan of the complex story, you should still check out this book just for the artwork. It's some of the best stuff out there.

Solovar. Before I started reading The Flash, all I knew about Gorilla City came from the Justice League cartoon. I knew on one side there was the evil Grodd, and on the other was the good Solovar. It was really nice to see him involved and to find out that young Barry wasn't attacked by a random gorilla — it was just Solovar, who probably just temporarily lost his mind from traveling through the Speed Force, which happened to Flash and Turbine. I also remember that in the cartoon show, Gorilla City was hidden by advanced technology, so I liked to see a version of that applied here with the elder. It combined technology with psychic abilities, which is what I originally knew Grodd for. So in this comic, we kind of have all elements represented in some fashion.

Barry got beat. I kind of like to see my hero lose every now and then, especially when it makes sense. Up to this point, he hasn't had much of a physical challenge to deal with, and how could he? He's the fastest man on Earth! Well, you take a giant, super strong, super evil gorilla and make him just as fast as the Flash. Would Flash stand a chance in a straight-up fight with that guy? Heck no! So I was pleasantly pleased to see this fight unfold in a rather realistic way. (Realistic being a comparative term, of course, in which you accept the reality of super-speed and talking gorillas.)

Patty knows. I didn't see this coming at all, and I credit DC for not spoiling it, like they seem to spoil everything nowadays. This Patty dynamic is very interesting. She loves Barry, but thinks the Flash caused his death, so she hates the Flash. She has gone on for three months believing Barry is dead, and now, not only is he alive, but he is the very costumed vigilante she hates! What now? Well, I actually do know what happens next since this story came out half a year ago, but this is still an exciting moment today.

The Bad:

Iris isn't dead? Yes, I know that she was in the Speed Force all this time, but I don't think Daniel West should have been able to break into her apartment and find mail from three months ago. After the Captain Cold incident, they held a funeral for Barry Allen. What about Iris? Why wasn't she declared dead too? She was a prominent reporter for the Central City Citizen — someone would have noticed she was missing, even if it was just her editor. Heck, Patty would have told people that Iris was sucked up into that vortex with Barry. Iris would have had a funeral, as well, and her apartment would have been emptied and sold, with all her stuff going to a family member. Daniel, in prison, would have received word that Iris died, if not from the state, then maybe from his parents or other relatives. What, Daniel's and Iris' parents are both dead, too? Doesn't anybody have a real family in the world of comic books? My version is more realistic, but it lacks the good visual of a pile of mail in a darkened apartment. I know I'm being nit-picky, but you know what? I still don't know what Daniel West is doing here, so I'm going to take my frustrations out on this minor detail.

Final score: 9 out of 10

Next: No future for Flash!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Flash #13

"Gorilla Warfare Part 1: King Grodd"

Script by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul
Colors by Brian Buccellato with Ian Herring
Letters Wes Abbott
Associate Editor Chris Conroy
Editor Matt Idelson

This Manapul-Buccellato cover would make an excellent poster. All the characters look great and there isn't anything hear that contradicts the inside story. And as usual, it looks wonderful in both color and black-and-white. Solid job.

Our story begins ten years ago in the suburbs of Central City. High schooler Barry Allen is having trouble with his algebra homework and throws his textbook on the ground. His legal guardian, Darryl Frye, comes in to give him some studying advice, but Barry is more concerned with the injuries on Darryl's face. Darryl explains that his home extends beyond the four walls of his house and encompasses all of Central City, which he has sworn to protect. Teenage Barry says, "Well ... sign me up for a desk job! You won't see me on street, knocking heads with criminals!"

Back to today, just two minutes ago downtown, Darryl is reviewing Barry's blood analysis and holding a picture of Nora Allen. Darryl apologizes to her for not protecting her son. Patty Spivot then bursts into the room with Turbine and says he has information on Barry. Darryl begins to question Turbine, and he tells Darryl, "I know who you really are." The gorilla pods then start falling on the city and one of them crashes into Darryl's office window.

Now. King Grodd is declaring war on the Flash and his city and the Rogues are criticizing Captain Cold for knocking out the Flash.

Weather Wizard revives Flash with a bit of rain and the Rogues catch him up on the situation. The gorillas then attack, but only go after Flash, so the Rogues try to make their getaway. But they're flanked by more gorillas who prevent their escape. So, reluctantly, the Rogues team up with Flash to battle the gorilla invasion. Flash is surprised to see how fast the gorillas are and that they can even anticipate his moves. He's then pinned a couple of them, but Glider pulls them off. She and Flash formally agree to call a "time out" on their fight and to resume it once the gorillas are dealt with.

A few block away, King Grodd has set up a makeshift throne for himself with an elder gorilla at his side in chains. Grodd withholds himself from the battle, but orders his soldiers to bring the Flash to him while he attends to something powerful in the city. Grodd is then approached by the Trickster, who volunteers his services as the gorilla's personal liaison. Grodd is not impressed and rips Trickster's arm off. He then orders his general to round up the humans to be used by the elder.

We then see Daniel West, who was granted early parole after five years in prison. He tries to call his sister, Iris, but only gets her voice mail, not knowing she is still trapped in the Speed Force. A gorilla then starts chasing Daniel and he decides to go look for Iris.

Back to the fight, Flash begins to wonder where Grodd is and what his end game could be. He and the Rogues quickly figure out how to coordinate their attacks and are able to tie up a bunch of gorillas. Glider is so impressed, she even offers Flash a spot on the Rogues, but he turns her down. In the brief break in the action, he explains to the Rogues that Grodd is after his power, but before they can form a plan, another wave of gorilla pods lands on the city. Flash leaves these gorillas to the Rogues and takes off to find Grodd.

As he races toward the greatest threat he's ever faced, he reflects on his role in the world. He runs because time and space need him to expend Speed Force energy. He works with the Justice League because sometimes there are threats to the world that are that dangerous. He protects the Gem Cities because they are his home. He knows his part, but Grodd had spent his whole life under a false assumption that the Speed Force is his birthright.

Flash feels Grodd's power pulling on him, which he follows to Dr. Elias' lab, where he finds Grodd has devoured one of the battery cells filled with expended Speed Force energy.

The Good:

The story. I love the nonstop action of The Flash. Everything keeps building up faster and faster, and it's amazing. Ironically, I found a gorilla invasion much more intriguing than a parademon invasion. Maybe that's because the parademons were expected, but the gorillas genuinely surprised me. I also thought the Rogues' reactions were appropriate. Step one, wake up Flash. Step two, run away. And then, only if you absolutely have to, team up with Flash, but make sure to remind him you're still enemies. I also loved how a small detail from almost ten issues ago — the Speed Force batteries — has now become a key plot device. And how awesome/scary is Gorilla Grodd with super-speed? I think it's very awesome/scary.

The art. I love it when Manapul hides the words "DC Comics proudly presents The Flash." It's like a mini-game within the issue. And, of course, all the rest of the art in this issue was at the incredible level we've come to expect. I mean, how could you mess up a gorilla army vs. Flash and the Rogues? (Well, I guess you could easily mess it up, but that would be criminal.)

Darryl Frye. I loved the quick flashback with him and a teenaged Barry. I wouldn't mind a few more of those. But more importantly, I was happy to see more hints and clues that Darryl is Barry's biological father. When Turbine said, "I know who you really are," I don't think he merely meant he knew Darryl took in Barry. Of course, we still don't have any definitive evidence, but until we know for sure otherwise, I will go on believing Darryl is Barry's real dad.

Poor Trickster. Grodd ripping off Trickster's arm was one of the most unexpected and amazing moments of this run. Yes, it was a little shocking and gruesome, but this series generally avoids gratuitous violence and is allowed to have an occasional moment like this. And boy, was it something! Poor Trickster can never catch a break. But I guess he should learn that when you offer a gorilla a hand, he might take you literally!

The Bad:

I did notice one small typo: Grodd mentioned gathering humans for the elders, when we only saw one elder and in subsequent issues we will only see one elder. It's a slight mistake and it doesn't ruin this issue in any way, shape or form.

Final score: 9 out of 10

Next: Last ape standing!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Flash Annual #1

"United They Fall"

Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato – Story
Chris Conroy – Associate Editor
Matt Idelson – Editor

This Annual issue came out one week after issue #12, and just a couple of weeks before issue #0, essentially making it impossible for Manapul and Buccellato to do their usual work on this issue. Every other Annual had this problem, too, and some of them were forced to tell out-of-continuity stories with the regular creators completely uninvolved. Luckily, Manapul and Buccellato decided to continue the story from issue #12 and took advantage of the increased page count by telling some backstory they would normally not be able to fit in. To meet this challenge, they divided this story into five chapters with a unique art team for each chapter. Also, they were still able to write the story and provide the cover, which is iconic and would be one of the best covers of this series if it weren't for one flaw: Turbine. At no point in this issue does he join with the Rogues in the fight against Flash and Captain Cold. Turbine could have been left off and I would have been completely fine with it.

"Chapter 1: The Flats"

Francis Manapul – Breakdowns
Marcus To – Pencils and Inks
Ian Herring – Colors
Carlos M. Mangual – Letters

Two hours ago (or right before issue #12 began), the Flash took a quick detour to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He remembers first visiting the place with his father when he was 7. His dad desperately wanted to see a world record, but all young Barry cared about was spending time with his dad. Today, Barry likes to visit the Flats as the Flash to help him clear his mind.

The salt is pretty slick, so racers (or super-speed runners) have to stay focused. But the long flat stretch helps you reach your potential. The only problem is the speed becomes addictive, and when you're moving as fast as the Flash is, the world becomes a blur. As he runs, he has an epiphany: everything changes. Records are broken, children grow up, even the great Bonneville Lake dried up thousands of years ago. So how can anyone expect people to stay the same? Flash realizes that he didn't see Elias' betrayal coming because he was caught up in the speed. Now, he needs to go talk to his former friend.

"Chapter 2: The Opportunity"

Francis Manapul – Breakdowns
Scott Kolins – Pencils and Inks
Mike Atiyeh – Colors
Dezi Sienty – Letters

A year and a half ago, Captain Cold, Heatwave, Weather Wizard and Trickster rob a bank. This is before they received their power upgrades, so they're still using specialized weapons and suits, which are more than enough to easily take down the police. Cold explains that although the Rogues are bad guys, they do keep to a code of conduct. Rule One: No killing. Rule Two: No drugs. Rule Three: It's all about the score. Keeping these rules gives them a sense of honor.

Before the Rogues can get away with their loot, the Flash shows up and easily defeats them. However, he turns his back on them to secure the money, enabling the Mirror Master to pull the Rogues into the Mirror World through their getaway truck with several large sheets of glass. Flash makes a mental note to tie up the bad guys before grabbing the money next time.

Back at the Rogues' hideout, Leonard Snart is furious at having lost to the Flash again. Sam, the Mirror Master, places the blame on the Trickster, who was supposed to stay in the truck and be the lookout. Axel pushes the blame to Lisa, who is Cold's sister and Sam's girlfriend. This is the last straw for Cold and he kicks everybody out.

Later, Cold gets drunk and robs a pawn shop. He wanders around, muttering about how he isn't fit to lead the Rogues if he can't beat the Flash. He's then approached by Dr. Darwin Elias, who offers him help in his war against the superhero. Cold asks if he has an old score to settle, but Elias says, "Not at all ... I just want to see what happens."

"Chapter 3: The Price"

Francis Manapul – Breakdowns
Diogenes Neves – Pencils
Oclair Albert – Inks
Ian Herring – Colors
Pat Brosseau – Letters

Two hours ago, Lisa Snart is lying in a hospital bed, while her Glider forms digs through a massive heap of wreckage. Her thoughts are directed toward Leonard, whom she thinks should be asking himself whether it was worth it after everything they lost. She thinks he's selfish, he never cared about the others, and he may have been trying to end Lisa's relationship with Sam.

A year and a half ago, Cold brought the Rogues (minus Trickster) to Elias' genome recoder. He tells them to put their weapons in the machine so it'll give them super powers to battle the Flash with. The others are hesitant, especially Lisa, who starts to walk away. The Rogues do agree, however, and the machine starts to work. But something quickly goes wrong. The machine explodes and Lisa is caught in the blast.

Sam disappears, Mick catches on fires, Marco is put into a daze, Leonard freezes up and Lisa's Glider form leaves her body, leading her to believe she's died. Cold sees Lisa's lifeless body and thinks the same thing. In his rage, he freezes everything around him.

Back to today, Glider reflects on the price the Rogues paid to acquire powers. She has been reduced to an astral projection that can only touch things for a few seconds at a time, while her real body will never walk again. Heatwave was burned beyond recognition and Weather Wizard's emotions are now dictated by the weather. Glider finally finds the object she was searching for: her old mirror from that fateful day, where she can see her boyfriend, forever trapped in the Mirror World.

"Chapter 4: The Secret"

Francis Manapul – Breakdowns
Marcio Takara – Pencils and Inks
Ian Herring – Colors
Pat Brosseau – Letters

In Central City Hospital five minutes ago, Patty Spivot is brought in to analyze the blood of a mysterious man whose mind is completely blank. But those of us who read Flash #8 recognize him as Turbine. As Patty prepares to draw his blood, Turbine says he thinks he already knows who she is. They're then interrupted by a special new bulletin on the TV reporting on the chaos caused by the Rogues and the alleged stabbing of Elias by the Flash.

At the Flash's name, Turbine begins to stutter and says, "He said he'd help me get home ..." Patty starts to leave to help out downtown, but Turbine grabs her arms and says he now remembers who she is and he can tell her where Barry Allen is.

"Chapter 5: The Showdown"

Francis Manapul – Breakdowns
Wes Craig – Pencils and Inks
Hi-Fi – Colors
Wes Abbott – Letters

Now. Director David Singh is racing to save his injured boyfriend, Hartley Rathaway aka the Pied Piper, who was taken down by a Weather Wizard lightning bolt. Elias is dying in the Flash's arms after Glider phased a shard of a mirror into his chest. And Captain Cold is walking down a staircase of ice toward the Flash after he prevented the Rogues from escaping into the Mirror World.

David finds Hartley, who is alive, but badly injured. The police start to surround the Flash, but Cold blocks them off with a wall of ice. He then freezes Elias and tells Flash they can save him later after they defeat the Rogues. Flash agrees to team up and they begin to fight.

Glider wraps the two of them up in her ribbons and Cold tries to put some distance between himself and Flash, knowing his powers slow him down. Glider is able to direct the Flash into a store window, which transports him to the Mirror World. Heatwave and Weather Wizard follow him to join in the fight with Mirror Master. Flash says three on one isn't fair ... for them, so Mirror Master makes a bunch of clones of the three Rogues.

On the outside, Glider is left to fight Captain Cold. She calls him a traitor for teaming up with the Flash, but he reminds her that the Rogues were never about killing or revenge. She counters by saying he is no longer a Rogue. In the Mirror World, Flash takes a bit of a beating, but is able to shatter all the mirror clones. Mirror Master then covers the Flash with a bunch of mirrors, but he's able to break free. Noticing Mirror Master still uses a mirror gun, Flash grabs it from him and uses it to push Heatwave and Weather Wizard back out to the real world.

As soon as Flash frees himself, he's knocked out by a chunk of ice from Cold. The Rogues are perplexed by this double-cross, but Cold explains he owed the Flash for saving Lisa's life during the blackout, but he was only using him to help take down the Rogues. Now that he has their attention, he suggests they add a fourth rule: The Rogues are family. He makes the case for himself to resume control of the team, but before they can answer, the city is littered with large, metal pods falling from the sky. The yellow pods open up to reveal King Grodd himself and his gorilla army. Grodd then declares war on the Flash and Central City.

The Good:

The story. I really liked how Manapul and Buccellato handled this issue. Each chapter focused on a different character provided some great background information that probably wouldn't have been touched on otherwise. I also liked how they weren't compelled to make the chapters equal in length. Some were short, some were long, but they all worked and were great in their own rights. And what really made this issue great was that it explained so much of what happened during the past couple of issues. Dr. Elias was behind it all! Everything makes sense now! But the story is still moving forward in exciting, intriguing directions!

Great characterization. I find myself calling the Rogues by their real names more and more now, and that's because this issue made them feel like real people. I really started to feel for these people. Yes, they are criminals, and yes, they partially brought their pains on themselves, but still. Those poor Rogues. We also got to see a bit more into the mind of Elias, but we're still wondering a bit — is he really just an impassive experimenter or does he actually have an anti-Flash agenda? Manapul and Buccellato are able to accomplish a lot of good in very little space, best exemplified by the Singh-Pied Piper scene. It was only a couple of panels, but was one of the most emotional parts of the issue.

Exciting cliffhanger. As I approached the end of this issue, I began to think, "Wait, they spent all this time to bring together all the bad guys, and that's it?!" But before I could get upset, one other villain I forgot about showed up in a triumphant, magnificent way. Now that's what I'm talking about! Let's get ALL the villains together! (Well, I guess we are missing Mob Rule, but honestly, he doesn't fit in this kind of story. Sorry, Manuel, you just keep hacking off your fingers and fighting Basilisk or whatever.)

The Salt Flats. I'm from Utah, and I have been to the Salt Flats many times, so I was really happy to see something near and dear to me portrayed in a comic book. In fact, seeing the Salt Flats in the preview for this issue helped push me to pick up this series (I didn't officially start reading until issue #0). So anyway, for those who are not familiar with the most desolate place on Earth, let me explain to you the wonder of the Salt Flats:

You have seen it in such movies as Independence Day and Pirates of Caribbean 3, as well as hundreds of car commercials. As the name implies, the Salt Flats are salty and flat — so flat, in fact, that you can see the curvature of the Earth from certain points. The ground is solid salt that was residue from the ancient Lake Bonneville and is replenished every winter when the Great Salt Lake floods it. The salt itself is cool, but it reflect all the heat and light from the sun, making it a very bright place. (I don't know how young Barry was able to tolerate the races without sunglasses. It kills my eyes just thinking about it.) The reflective nature of the salt also prevents any clouds from forming above it and don't forget that the salt prevents anything from growing out there, so there is absolutely no shade available unless you bring it with you. Marcus To's drawings were very accurate, except for the lack of sunglasses. Every summer, the Salt Flats hosts Speed Week, which draws racers from all over the world to compete for land speed records. I'm kind of sad that To only drew a couple of motorcycles, because Speed Week draws out a lot of amazing cars — some are powered by jet engines and can go 600 miles per hour. I also had to laugh when I saw they put three black people in the crowd, which is probably two or three too many black people. I don't mean to sound racist, but for whatever reason, Speed Week does not attract a lot of black people. Well, that was probably more than you ever wanted to know, but now you know! Back to my review.

The Bad:

The only negative aspect of this book is the very nature of the Annual format. I understand DC's need to fill those extra weeks every few months, and their desire to do something special, but I hate that this gimmicky stunt all too often comes at the expense of quality of the product. Yes, I do buy The Flash to see what Barry Allen is doing every month, but a huge reason I buy The Flash is to see what Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are going to give me every month. Now, DC is going to essentially take those two away and charge me more money for inferior art. And they wonder why they can't hold on to their readers. I thought this creative team did a great job working around these obstacles. The guest artists varied in levels of ability — the biggest surprise for me was Diogenes Neves — but ironically, the most uninspiring artist, Wes Craig, drew the most important pages. These fill-in guys got the job done, but ultimately, I wanted to see Manapul and Buccellato draw and color this issue. Also, why couldn't this have been called issue #13 with a simple Special or Bonus label on the front?

Final score: 8 out of 10

To be continued in Flash #13: Siege on Central City!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Flash #12


Script by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul
Colors Brian Buccellato
Letters Wes Abbott
Associate Editor Chris Conroy
Editor Matt Idelson

Yay! We're back to Manapul-Buccellato artwork! And the number of individual credits for this issue is down to four people — just the right amount in my book. I say, the fewer people working on a book, the more cohesive it becomes.

Once again we're treated to a stunning cover by Manapul and Buccellato that works equally well in color and black-and-white. This really captures the grace, beauty and mystery of Glider. Another masterpiece!

Our story picks right up where issue #11 left off in Keystone City, with Heatwave and Captain Cold being transported to Iron Heights Prison. The rookie cop in the van is a bit nervous to be escorting such dangerous individuals, but his veteran partner assures him the two villains are safely strapped into power inhibitors. As soon as he says this, Glider phases through the van and forces the two officers out. She then releases Heatwave, but not her brother, Captain Cold, leaving him in the van as it fall off an overpass.

In nearby Central City, Dr. Darwin Elias is riding in a limo to a ceremony for the opening of his new monorail. The Flash, meanwhile, has decided that it's time for him to visit his former friend.

Flash tells Elias he's fine with him taking credit for the renewable energy source (which is excess Speed Force "juice" generated by the Flash), but he isn't happy with him turning the public against him. Elias says he's simply conducting a social experiment and any help he gave to the hero was purely in the name of science — not because they were ever friends. He says the two of them can both change the world, except he uses hypothesis and empirical data instead of the Flash's flawed morality. He then tells Flash to get out of his car.

We cut back to the Rogues falling off the overpass. Glider can fly, but Heatwave begins to fall, until a big gust of wind swoops him up and drops him into a passing convertible driven by the Weather Wizard. Captain Cold, still in the van, is rescued by some pigeons with a rope right before the vehicle hits the pavement. The pigeons are being controlled by none other than the Pied Piper. Cold is happy to see his former ally, but Piper hangs him from a lamp post and says he has more Rogues to catch.

At the monorail ceremony, Mayor Gamen introduces Elias, who explains that Central City is the fastest growing city in North America and is in desperate need of clean, efficient energy. He boasts that a singe battery cell from his patented renewable energy source can power the monorail for more than 15 years. He then delves into a long-winded speech about the merit of the working class people, while the Flash secretly observes him from the crowd at super-speed. But Flash is quickly distracted by the appearance of Glider, who is hovering over Elias and is able to see the Flash at this speed.

Captain Cold, meanwhile, learns the hard way that Pied Piper's rope isn't strong enough to hold his weight. Fortunately for him, though, he lands safely on a large cushion, courtesy of the Trickster. Trickster tells Cold that the Rogues have re-formed without him. But Axel didn't come to gloat — he's earning favors, knowing a Snart always repays his debts.

Back at the ceremony, Glider tells Flash that Elias betrayed her, her brother and her friends. Before Flash can stop her, she phases a shard of a mirror into Elias' chest and takes off. Flash rushes to Elias' aid, but all the crowd sees is the Flash show up and Elias collapse in pain. Things get more complicated when Heatwave and Weather Wizard show up and start making a mess. The Pied Piper then shows up on a motorcycle, but is quickly taken down by a bolt of lightning from Weather Wizard.

Marco then uses a gust of wind to push Mick up to monorail track. Heatwave starts burning a whole in the track while Glider starts driving the monorail toward him. He admits that he hated Cold, too, but at least his plans weren't ever this crazy. The monorail then goes off the track, but is caught by another gust of wind from Weather Wizard and steered into the reflective surface of a nearby building. The train doesn't crash into the building, but is transported to another dimension, courtesy of the Mirror Master.

Lisa then takes a quick moment to revel in her accomplishments. In a matter of a few minutes, she has eliminated Elias and pinned it on the Flash, settled an old score with the traitorous Pied Piper, stole a train and killed her brother. Mirror Master then beckons the Rogues to join him in the Mirror World, but before they can jump in, they're blocked by a massive sheet of ice, created by Captain Cold.

The Good:

The art. That two-month break Manapul took was worth it for this glorious issue! Every single page blew me away. There was so much action and rich, vibrant colors. This issue showcases one of the best things about the Flash — his Rogues. They're all so unique and colorful. Between the Flash and his villains, we get just about every color imaginable — red, blue, green, orange, yellow. It's so fun to flip through these pages.

The story. My goodness. Where to begin? So much happened in this issue. It was incredible. This is my favorite issue after #0. I love it when all the characters are together, but I want there to be a good reason for it. This story provides that good reason. Everyone has been building up to this right from the first issue, so I wasn't ever saying, "What's Pied Piper doing here?" Instead, I was waiting for him to show up for the past few issues. But that's not to say I wasn't surprised to see him (or any of the others) show up. There's a difference between being surprised and feeling like characters were out of place and randomly inserted into the story. When you build a continuous narrative for a year, as Manapul and Buccellato have done, you avoid that problem.

Glider. All I know of the previous Golden Glider was that she was ice skater who could skate on thin air and hypnotize people. Sounds kinda boring to me. This Glider is powerful, obsessed, ruthless and meticulous. Her plan went like clockwork and would have been a complete success if it weren't for the Trickster. I am looking forward to seeing more stories with her as the leader of the Rogues.

Dr. Darwin Elias. He initially appeared to be nothing more than the standard scientist ally that most superheroes need. And I was fine with that. But he took on a whole new role when he started leading anti-Flash rallies. And once the Rogues started turning against him, he became fascinating. I loved his conversation with the Flash at the beginning of this issue. At this point, I don't think you can definitively label him as a villain, but he's definitely not a good guy, either. He is a more realistic, complex person who does both good and bad, who is very self-serving yet is actually helping people as well. He is quite intriguing and I eagerly await his next move.

Best Easter egg ever. My favorite TV show of all time is Lost. So when I saw Manapul sneak a few Lost characters into the crowd, I was giddy with excitement. It's also completely appropriate for The Flash to pay homage to Lost because one of the characters on the island had a Spanish comic book with Jay Garrick, Alan Scott and a polar bear.

Unfortunately, my phone cut a few of them off, but here we can see Charlie, Michael, Walt and Locke.

And here is Hurley, possibly Sawyer and Jack. Those are the characters I can clearly identify. There are a few I'm not sure about, including the cutoffs. I think they were Claire and Sun, but you could also argue Juliette and Kate. In any case, it was a wonderful hidden treasure for us Lost fans.

The Bad:

The only little issue I saw here was Elias' limousine. From the street, it looked like a normal-sized limo, but when the Flash vibrated inside it, he could easily stand all the way up. That would have to be a 6-foot tall limo, which I guess they could make, but this didn't look like one of those, since it was dwarfed by a city bus. But really, this doesn't matter at all. This issue was so fun and amazing, I will allow little goofs like this.

Final score: 10 out of 10

Next time: So the Rogues are at war with Cold. There's a train full of innocent people in the Mirror World and the city thinks the Flash attacked the dying man in his arms. It can only get better from here, right? Wrong! It gets worse next time in Flash Annual #1!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Flash #11

"Slow Burn"


Script by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Pencils by Marcus To
Inks by Ray McCarthy
Colors Brian Buccelato (pages 1-10) and Ian Herring (pages 11-20)
Letters Wes Abbott
Associate Editor Chris Conroy
Editor Matt Idelson

It finally happened! I finally got back to The Flash! But what's been several months in real-time, it's probably only been a week or two in comic-time. Sadly, my return to the title is not on a Manapul-Buccellato masterpiece, but at least they did write the script and do the cover.

The cover is beautifully drawn and contains more than enough action and excitement. However, I am a little upset with it because it looks like Iris West and James Forrest are on the cover, but they're not — it's just two people in the bar who happen to look a lot like them. I guess that's Manapul's fault — having so many background characters look so similar.

Our story starts in Keystone City, where a mysterious man in a trench coat and baseball cap enters a cheap, filthy hotel. He hates the place, but feels it's a good spot to help him disappear until he can control the fire inside him. While he checks in, somebody accidentally bumps into him and knocks off his hat, revealing a very badly burned and very angry Heatwave. He opens up his coat and starts spewing flames from his chest.

Nearby, Barry Allen is adjusting to his new life after his adventures in the Speed Force and elsewhere. While he was gone, his old friend Dr. Elias began to turn the public against the Flash. Even Barry's girlfriend, Patty Spivot, is against the Scarlet Speedster, so he's decided to leave her behind by keeping Barry Allen officially dead and starting a new life in Keystone City's roughest neighborhood, "The Keys." He hopes that no one will recognize him here and being in close proximity to the criminal world will help him discover who or what is behind the recent arsons plaguing the city.

Barry feels a bit like Batman doing all this detective work, but unlike Batman, he has to worry about finding a place to stay and a job to pay for it. To expedite this search, Barry uses his speed mind trick, which he hasn't tried since using it almost got him killed by Mob Rule. He thinks about Patty, Darryl Frye, Batman, his own grave and even considers working for the police department. Ultimately, he settles on a "Help Wanted" sign in front of a rough-looking bar. However, using his speed mind put Barry into kind of a trance that was only broken when someone bumped into him.

Barry enters the Keystone Saloon and asks for the job, but the bartender is skeptical. Barry orders a drink, but then realizes the guy who bumped into him on the street stole his wallet. He offers to work for the drink and the bartender hires him. Barry then realizes that he's sitting next to Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold, who is surprisingly out of Iron Heights. (There's no editor's note here, but I'm going to assume that Cold was broken out by David Graves in Justice League #10.)

We then cut to the Downtown Division of the Central City Police Department, where Director Singh is lecturing Patty for putting herself at such great risk in South America. She points out that she was able to close an open case, but Singh says she should leave that work to the detectives. While he's yelling at her, he mentions Barry's death, but then quickly apologizes. After Patty leaves, we see the real reason behind Singh's anger: a Central Citizen headline, reading "Pied Piper Back."

Meanwhile, Dr. Darwin Elias is on a talk show. He takes full credit for restoring power to the Gem Cities after the blackout and he announces the opening of a new monorail. He makes it a point to say they are much better off without the Flash, and he predicts the demise of superheroes and super villains within six months.

The talk show is playing at the bar, and Snart gets mad enough at Elias to throw his beer mug into the TV. The bartender, Charles, chews him, but Snart brushes him off. He claims that Elias is no different from the Rogues and he laments over the old days when good guys were good guys and bad guys were bad guys. He concludes his rant by complaining that he can't even drink beer without freezing it. Barry helps him out by mixing a rather girly drink that is able to withstand extremely low temperatures. This helps him bond with Snart and Barry introduces himself as Allen.

Suddenly, Heatwave bursts through the door, yelling at Captain Cold. Barry tries to talk some sense into him, but Heatwave tosses him out the window. So "Al" the bartender clocks out and the Flash clocks in. He runs into the bar and tries to talk down Heatwave and Cold, but they naturally ignore him. Flash then asks Heatwave if he's responsible for the arsons, but he says it's Captain Cold's fault. He then yells at Cold for ruining the Rogues' lives, but he says he was only trying to help. Flash has decided he's had enough at this point, so he runs around the two villains to suck away their oxygen. They're quickly knocked out and Flash is happy he was able to prevent them from hurting anyone, all thanks to him being Al the bartender at a notorious villain hang-out.

Captain Cold and Heatwave regain consciousness in a police van headed to Iron Heights. The two quickly resume their argument, and Heatwave says the Rogues are better off without Cold. Suddenly, Lisa Snart, aka Glider, phases through the truck and joins the conversation.

The Good:

The story. It is so good to be back to reviewing Manapul-Buccellato stories. They are so full of detail and references to past issues and teasers for future issues. This title features an intricate level of connectedness that I see more common in Japanese manga like Naruto, but rarely in American comics. It's just so great to have it here! As long as Manapul and Buccellato keep writing the Flash, I'll keep buying it.

The death of Barry Allen. When Action Comics "killed" Clark Kent, they made a really big deal of it and then it only lasted two issues. But Manapul and Buccellato handled Barry's apparent death in a much more subtle way and stretched it out over a much longer period of time. And I've really enjoyed it. They haven't beat us over the head with "Barry Allen is dead!" signs in every issue, but every now and then we see how his death is affecting him, his girlfriend and his work. It's just been really interesting for me.

Heatwave. We're again introduced to another classic Rogue, and like the others, he's been given a double-edged upgrade. I really like his new design, and I kinda feel bad for him. He has a perpetual fire in his chest that is very difficult to contain. That's got to suck. This issue also reminded us that it sucks to be Captain Cold. I mean, the poor guy can't even drink anything without freezing it! Yes, I would have liked a little more Heatwave-Captain Cold fight, but this issue's primary purpose was to set up bigger things down the road, which we will be getting to quickly.

The Bad:

Nothing huge. Marcus To is no Francis Manapul, but his art is very solid and serves the story well. However, whenever Manapul doesn't pencil an issue, it feels like they're purposefully holding back some bigger moments. I guess that is to be expected, though, and I can't complain because these issues did advance the story, unlike some other filler issues out there.

Final score: 8 out of 10

Next: The secrets of Glider!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Green Lantern Corps #14

"Nothing Man"


Peter J. Tomasi Story and Words
Fernando Pasarin Penciller
Scott Hanna Inker
Gabe Eltaeb Colorist
Dave Sharpe Letterer
Wil Moss Associate Editor
Matt Idelson Editor

The cover is by Scott Clark and Peter Steigerwald. It is a pretty gripping and exciting image that gives you a good idea of what happens in the book. I'm also glad there isn't any extra text (a rarity these days) that might say something dumb like "Guy Gardner's Last Stand!" At first I thought the black-and-white version had too much black, but now it's grown on me. Very solid cover.

The story starts near Saturn, where Guy Gardner is leading a group of Green Lanterns in a fight against the Third Army.

However, the zombie-soldiers prove too powerful for the Lanterns and are able to penetrate their shields, rip off their rings (usually by ripping off their finger or entire hand) and convert them into more Third Army soldiers. Soon, Gardner is the only one left. He makes a hasty retreat back to Earth and takes his family to the Justice League Watchtower and leaves them in the care of Cyborg and the Flash.

And ... that's all we see of the Flash in this issue. There a couple of other story lines going on here that I don't fully understand and don't directly involve the Flash, but it does seem like a couple of Lanterns were able to start unraveling the Guardians' plot. However, this issue ends with Gardner resigning from the Corps at the behest of the Guardians.

The Good:

I don't think anything really stood out as particularly amazing for me. The art was satisfactory and the story was OK, but there was a lot of stuff going on that confused me. Unlike Geoff Johns' writing on Green Lantern, Tomasi's writing pushes me farther away from the Green Lantern mythology, reminding me of how much I don't know. For Green Lantern fans, this is probably a great issue, but for Flash fans like me ... well, not so much.

The Bad:

Basically no Flash. Yes, he is physically there, and he even does say something, but it's only in one panel and we don't get to see his face. I know Tomasi had a lot to do in this issue and space is limited, but I think he missed out on a great opportunity here by not having the Flash interact directly with Guy Gardner, especially after the Flash just barely wish he was dead. Alas!

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: Let's quickly review Barry Allen's life from the past couple of months. While he was fighting Captain Cold, Iris West and three others got sucked into the Speed Force. Flash went there to save them, but instead found Turbine. He eventually escaped the Speed Force, but wound up in Gorilla City. Meanwhile, everybody assumes Barry Allen is dead and they even hold a service for him. He finally escapes from Gorilla Grodd and then saves his girlfriend Patty Spivot from the Weather Wizard. Turns out, Patty blames the Flash for Barry's death, so he decides to keep Barry dead for her sake. Until he decides what to do, he goes on a couple of adventures with the Justice League, taking down David Graves, the Cheetah and briefly encountering the new Green Lantern, Simon Baz. Now that that's all done with, it's finally time for Barry to return to the Gem Cities and begin his new life.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Green Lantern #14



Geoff Johns Writer
Doug Mahnke Penciller
Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne and Tom Nguyen Inkers
Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina Colorists
Dave Sharpe Letterer
Wil Moss Associate Editor
Matt Idelson Editor

The cover is by Mahnke, Irwin and Sinclair. The characters look good and the action is dynamic and well within the acceptable limits of exaggeration (yeah, their fight wasn't quite this extreme, but the cover isn't showing someone with a sword sticking through their chest or anything like that). I do have two problems with this cover. One, why did Alex Sinclair make the background orange? It's really a nasty color, which I guess is why I like the black-and-white better. Problem number two: Where is the Flash? He actually played a pretty big role in this issue and Mahnke was able to squeeze in everybody but the Flash. This seems to happen more often than not. Sigh ...

The story begins on Oa, the central precinct to the Green Lantern Corps. The Guardians are discussing the progress of their Third Army, which converts all it encounters and eliminates free will by linking sentient beings to a single mind. The Guardians estimate that the army will fill the universe in three months.

We then return to the action in Dearborn, Michigan, where the Justice League has caught up with the newest Green Lantern, suspected terrorist Simon Baz.

Baz readily admits that there's no way he can fight the Justice League, but he does feel he could take Batman, to which the Flash says, "He's a Green Lantern all right!" Batman asks Baz where he got the ring, and he basically pleads ignorance. The League explains to him that the rings choose recruits for their courage and they only choose a new recruit after a previous Green Lantern has died. The Flash makes another joke here, saying he hopes Guy Gardner was the one who died, then quickly asks, "I'm going to hell for that, aren't I?"

Wonder Woman prepares her lasso of truth, which Baz agrees to, but Batman first asks him to take off the ring. Baz tries to, but once he touches the ring, a big green Sinestro blog erupts from it and attacks the League. Panicking, Baz creates a car and races away. Superman and Flash take after him and try to talk some sense into him. Flash tells Baz that by running, he'll make more people think he's guilty.

Baz refuses his advice and says he wants to find whoever was responsible for the bomb he was accused of planting. Baz then escapes Flash and Superman by creating a whole bunch of decoy cars. Free of the Justice League, Baz meets back up with his sister, who helps him on his quest to find the real bomber.

The last few pages of the comic are a bit over my head, involving characters, places and concepts I'm unfamiliar with. But from what I can gather, it seems like when the Guardians first came to be, they imprisoned the First Lantern in a black hole. Now they've taken him from that prison to use his power to create the Third Army. Hal Jordan and Sinestro possibly learned this truth and as a result were sent to the Dead Zone. I could be completely wrong on this — I haven't read very much Green Lantern.

The Good:

Intriguing story. I really like the idea of the Guardians creating the Third Army. To save the universe from itself, to end all war and pain, they will eliminate free will. And all the extra stuff with the First Lantern and the Dead Zone did confuse me, but was interesting. One of these days, I'm going to need to read all this stuff. All in all, this is a solid comic book with a good story and great art.

The Bad:

Disappointing Justice League. It made perfect sense for the President of the United States to call in the Justice League for this mission. A suspected terrorist being interrogated at Guantanamo Bay was freed by the most powerful weapon in the universe. Yes, that is definitely the time to call in the Justice League. But once they arrived, they really didn't do anything. They sat around and talked for a little bit then two of them went to chase Baz, but were quickly eluded. Doesn't Superman have X-ray vision? Isn't the Flash the fastest man in the world? Why couldn't they find Baz? And why did they stop looking so quickly? If you're going to go to all the trouble of bringing the Justice League in, then you need to give them something to do. But here, they didn't answer any questions or advance the plot in anyway. Ironically, the most interesting pages in this issue were the ones without the Justice League. Maybe that was intentional and this is Johns showing us that the Green Lantern world is too big and strange for the Justice League to handle. I, however, do not agree with that logic.

Also, someone really needs to have a sit-down with Johns and help him decide what kind of Flash he wants to be writing. He brought Barry Allen back to life and every now and then he'll have a good Barry moment. Like here, having Barry try to reason with Baz and have him turn himself in to the proper authorities. That's true to Barry's character. But too often, Johns will write Barry as if he were Wally. Like at the start of this issue, with him cracking a couple of jokes (one of which was kind of inappropriate). I felt like Barry and Hal made a good comedic team, but now that Hal's off the League, all the comedic responsibilities falls on the Flash, which I feel is contrary to the Barry Allen written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. If Johns wants a funny Flash, then he should bring back Wally West. Then he would be praised as the man for reviving two Flashes.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: Unable to find Simon Baz, the Flash and the Justice League head back to the Watchtower to plan their next move, where the events of the Rise of the Third Army will bring them into contact with another Green Lantern — Guy Gardner.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Green Lantern #13

"Actions and Reactions"


Geoff Johns Writer
Doug Mahnke Penciller
Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen, Keith Champagne and Marc Deering Inkers
Alex Sinclair with Tony Avina Colorists
Steve Wanos Letterer
Wil Moss Associate Editor
Matt Idelson Editor

Before I begin this review, I need to make a full disclaimer: I have never read Green Lantern. I tried to read some of Blackest Night way back when, but it really confused me, so I basically just left the character alone. But just because I don't know what's going on doesn't mean that it's a bad comic — it just means that in order to fully enjoy it, I'd need to do a lot of back reading, which I am unfortunately unable to do at the moment. (Maybe one day I'll have enough time and money to read everything I'd like. If only ...) So basically, what I'm saying is that I'm coming into this story much like the Flash is — with little to no clue of what's going on.

The cover is by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert and Rod Reis. It's actually just a part of a much larger image with all the Green Lantern titles, which looks pretty good altogether. But individually, it feels really crowded and empty at the same time. The black-and-white version doesn't work for me here, mainly because one of the Guardians looks too much like a baby for me to take seriously. Surprisingly, there is no variant cover.

The story begins in Washington, D.C., at 4:33 a.m., where Amanda Waller is briefing President Obama on the status of the Green Lanterns. Apparently all four known Earth Lanterns have been missing for a while and a suspected terrorist named Simon Baz has recently come into possession of a Green Lantern ring. Apparently this Baz, who is an Arab and a Muslim, stole a car that happened to have a bomb in it. He was taken to Guantanamo Bay and interrogated until the ring broke him out. Obama orders Waller to call in the Justice League to investigate.

We then cut to Baz in the Florida Keys, who is trying to figure out his new ring. It plays a message from Hal Jordan and Sinestro, who both tell him to stay away from Oa and to not trust the Guardians. Baz then flies to Dearborn, Michigan, to talk to his sister, who has been asked to take a leave of absence from her work because everyone is scared of her brother.

Meanwhile, a trucker is attacked by a member of the Third Army — a zombie-like entity that turns people into other zombies just like it.

Later that night, Baz is knocked off a roof by a red-and-blue blur. A voice says, "You're in a lot of trouble, Mr. Baz." He looks up to see the Justice League.

The Good:

Solid comic book. The story was good, the art was good, overall this is well-done comic book. Although I only know the basics of Green Lantern, I didn't feel completely lost here. I also found Simon Baz to be an interesting character, and I commend Geoff Johns for introducing him without it feeling like a desperate ploy to demonstrate diversity. Baz's inclusion in this story felt natural and logical. I really would like to read Johns' full Green Lantern run, but the constraints of time and money have required me to stick with just one character, and I chose the Flash.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. The only page you see him on is the last page, and as you can see, he's just kinda standing there. Because he is physically present, I consider this an active appearance, but just barely. Flash fans can easily skip this issue and not miss the Flash really doing anything. But if Flash fans do pick up this issue, they might find some enjoyment in the story of Simon Baz.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: Find out what the League has in store for Baz in Green Lantern #14.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Special Explanation Post

It feels weird to make a post without a picture, so I decided to share this shot of my Lightning McQueen remote control car, which I just realized looks exactly like my favorite superhero. Kinda neat, huh?

Anyway, on to the business. While I was preparing my review for Green Lantern #14, I got the impression that Flash may have appeared in Green Lantern #13 as well. Some research confirmed this suspicion, which led me to investigate whether Barry Allen has shown up in more New 52 titles that I've missed. I eventually found, which has a convenient list of every character's appearance in every major comic. I thoroughly combed through the Flash's list and found 11 comics I missed, most notably a cameo in Batman: The Dark Knight where he helps Batman fight Bane. But most of the other issues I missed had very small, brief pseudo-appearances, where the Justice League is shown in a vision or something like that.

I initially had some difficulty placing these new issues into my timeline, but then I realized that every superhero appearance can be classified into one of two groups: active and passive. An active appearance is where the character is psychically present in the issue and says/does something tangible. A passive appearance is where the character or a form of the character is only shown in a dream, vision, photograph, etc. Taking this into mind, I have created two overlapping timelines.

Active Appearances:

Origin: Flash #0
Darkseid Invasion: Justice League #2–#6
Early JL Meeting: Action Comics #10
Fight with Bane: Batman: The Dark Knight #3, #4, #6, #7
Libyan War: Captain Atom #3
Mob Rule: Flash #1–#5
JL Adventures: Justice League #7, #8
Trip to the Speed Force: Flash #6–#10
Superman Sees Krypton: Action Comics #14
Villain's Journey/Cheetah: Justice League #9–#14
Third Army: Green Lantern #13, #14, Green Lantern Corps #14
Rogues/Gorilla Warfare: Flash #11–#17
H'El on Earth: Superman, Superboy, Supergirl #16, #17
Expanding JL: Justice League #18
Trickster's Arrest: Flash #18, #19
Fight with Swamp Thing: Justice League Dark #19, #20

Passive Appearances:

Cover Only: Justice League #1
Darkseid Invasion: DC Universe Presents #0
Superman's Dream: Action Comics #12
Virtual Reality: Resurrection Man #12
Magical Vision: Stormwatch #0
Variant Covers Only: Justice League #15, #16
Rotworld: Animal Man #12, #13, #16, #17
Formation of JLA: Justice League of America #1, Vibe #1–#3
Powers Stolen: Dial H #11
Impersonated by Shape-Shifter: DC Universe Presents #19

So here's what I'm going to do: I'll focus mainly on the active appearances, but I'll still try to cover the passive ones when I can because some of them are kind of significant. For the sake of the timeline, I'd like to immediately backtrack and review those Dark Knight issues, but I'm so close to the battle with the Rogues and Gorilla Warfare I can't stop now. So I'll keep going where I was at with the Flash's three appearances in the Third Army story. After I've finished Gorilla Warfare, I'll go back and do some passive appearances and the Dark Knight issues. Then I'll go back to H'El on Earth and I should be caught up by then. Unless, of course, I find more back issues I missed and/or DC publishes more stories that happened in the past. In which case, I'll just joyfully rework my timeline and keep moving forward!

And by the way, thank you for reading this blog. I started this blog because I felt there wasn't enough love for the Flash online, and now I feel like I've started to fill that need just a little bit. Currently, my most-read post is Captain Atom #3, which I attribute to a lot of Flash fans being curious about that issue, but still a little hesitant to purchase it. In addition to being a place where Flash fans can share their love of the character, I hope my blog can inspire people to buy some more Flash stories, because the more Flash stories we buy, the more Flash stories DC will make. And I think we can all agree having a little more Flash is a good thing.