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 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.
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!