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!

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