Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Flash #15

"Gorilla Warfare Part 3: Flash Forward"

Script by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art by Marcus To and Ryan Winn (pages 1-11) and Francis Manapul (pages 12-20)
Colors by Brian Buccellato and Ian Herring
Letters by Carlos Mangual
Associate Editor Chris Conroy
Editor Matt Idelson

As always, our cover is brought to us by Manapul and Buccellato. I appreciate that they tried something new, and I like the concept, but I think the execution was lacking just a little bit. The red coloring and the letters on the cover make it kind of hard to tell exactly what's going. Luckily, I have a black-and-white version that solves that problem.

Here, we can see Elias with a beard, Patty with a scar, and all the other major players in the game. Except for Forrest, who (sadly) does nothing in this issue. After you read through the issue, the cover does make more sense, but I don't think it was particularly eye-catching for a new reader. And I guess that's what happens when you experiment — you win some and you lose some.

Our story begins with Patty Spivot recalling the hell of a year she just went through. The city endured a massive blackout, an attack by the Rogues, and now a gorilla invasion. Twice, she thought her boyfriend was dead — first by Mob Rule, then during the Flash-Captain Cold fight. Now, she has found out that Barry is not only alive, but also the Flash. Grodd has just tried to impale Flash with a stop sign, but Solovar sacrificed himself to save him. However, Flash was still knocked out by the attack.

Patty, not caring that Barry is the reckless vigilante she hates, tries to save her boyfriend by throwing rocks at the giant, super strong, super fast gorilla Grodd. Turbine tries to stop her, but then they notice Grodd's speed energy has worn off, taking a toll on his body. Turbine uses this moment to start hurtling a bunch of rocks at Grodd, while Patty rushes to Barry's side. Solovar is in bad shape, but still alive, and he manages to remind Patty to tell Flash that the mind will always be faster.

Just outside Central City, the Army has arrived in a bunch of tanks, but they can't see anything through all the smoke. Their sensors also read that the area is highly radioactive, so they form a perimeter until they can figure out what's going on.

Inside the football stadium, one of the gorillas worries how long the elder can maintain the telepathic image and what would happen if the humans saw through it. The elder tells him they must obey their king, something he failed to do once and will not do again. The stadium stands are full of people being used to provide the elder with mental energy, and it looks like Forrest, the Pied Piper and Director Singh are among the captives.

Outside the stadium, the Rogues prepare their plan to save the people from the gorillas. Captain Cold creates a large wall of ice, upon with the Mirror Master appears.

Far from the fighting, a weakened Grodd has slowly made his way back to Dr. Elias' lab to get more speed energy. He realizes these battery cells are unsustainable and he must have the Flash to truly acquire this power.

Back in the fray, Daniel West is still looking for his sister, Iris, while he's being chased by gorillas. But when he sees some people get captured, he tries to help out. However, his heroics only get him caught and knocked out.

At Broome Hill, Central City, just inside the gorilla perimeter, Darryl Frye arrives at Malaya Lago's house. (She's the mother of Mob Rule, in case you forgot.) Malaya leads Darryl upstairs to where Barry is lying unconscious on a bed and Patty is telling him nursery rhymes. Turbine is also there, standing guard. Darryl assures Patty that Barry will be able to bounce back and he tells him that he's assembling a task force with retired vets and anybody he can round up to make a last stand against the gorillas. Turbine says he'll join Darryl because if this city is lost, then he'll lose his chance to return to his home and family. While Patty and Darryl encourage Barry to wake up, his speed mind activates and he sees three potential scenarios for the future. (Note: These scenarios are a bunch of fragmented images with no words, so I'm doing a lot of speculating here. But I guess that's OK, since these are all just hypothetical futures that don't really happen.)

In one future, Barry kisses Patty, then heads out with the Rogues to a direct confrontation with Grodd. They fight valiantly, but are defeated, and Grodd rips off Flash's armor and kills him with a sword.

In another possibility, Flash joins Darryl's task force and they head to the football stadium to save the people, including Patty, who has been captured and fitted with a mind draining cap. Flash and the police start to win, and in their excitement, they tear down the gorillas' machine while it's still connected to the elder. His mind is overwhelmed and in the resulting feedback, he fries the brains of all the connected humans, killing Patty.

In the last scenario, Flash teams with the Rogues and they plan to invade Elias' lab to collect the remaining speed energy battery cells. They're met by the gorillas and Heatwave seems to lose his temper and there's a big explosion. Some time passes and the gorillas have pretty much taken over the city, killing lots of people. An underground movement forms with Patty, Turbine, Singh and the Pied Piper. Patty has a big scar on her face and Turbine has grown a beard. Using a motorcycle, Patty was able to steal a battery cell to help recharge the Flash to his full power.

Dr. Elias, now with a beard, is working for Grodd and has built him a large lightning rod tower to collect and store more speed force energy. The Flash and his team attack the tower. Elias flips a switch that creates a large vortex above the tower and sucks everything up. Flash, Patty and Grodd are hanging on for dear life, but they're eventually pulled into the vortex. Without the Flash to expend the speed force energy, the world is eventually consumed and destroyed.

When the visions started, Barry at first thought he was dying. But then he realized he was seeing things that hadn't happened yet. His body is paralyzed but his thoughts are racing forward, but he realizes all the scenarios he sees lead to defeat. He feels Patty beside him and feels her love. That gives him the strength to slow down and find the right answer, which is for him to turn himself over to Grodd. Barry then wakes up, shouting Patty's name.

The Good:

Unique storytelling. The last half of the book was something I've never seen before. Yes, it was kind of difficult to tell exactly what was going on, but I rather enjoyed the extra effort it required. The art, of course, was fantastic, and I loved how all those pages connect together to form one very long, very awesome image. Plus, it's always fun to see what-if scenarios involving our hero's death and the end of the world.

Patty's resolve. Patty has been a pretty good girlfriend, but it seemed like her relationship with Barry was going to end, especially after issue #10. But here she surprised me. Her love for Barry outweighed her hatred for the Flash and she risked her life by taking on Grodd. And her "Criss cross, applesauce" scene was one of the most touching moments of this series. Sure, Patty isn't Iris, but I think she's worthy of dating the Flash.

Multiple story lines. Some people might not like having to keep track of so many people and so many different things happening at the same time, but I love it. I enjoy complex, intricate stories that involve a lot of pieces that interact with each other. Although the first half of this issue didn't advance things as much as it could have, I thought it did a good job of giving us an update of everything that was happening. I also enjoyed the little detail of the elder's mirage also affecting the Army's computers.

The Bad:

This isn't so much a complaint as an observation, but the art in the first half was a bit lackluster. Of course, compared to Manapul's work, almost everything seems lackluster, but I have enjoyed Marcus To's previous work on this title before this issue. This time, he had a new inker (I assume) in Ryan Winn, who inked too heavily for my liking. The last half of this issue was absolutely amazing and worthy of compelling you to pick up this issue (or several copies of it), but the first half could have been a lot better. So that's why I'll have to keep the score a little lower.

Final score: 8 out of 10

Next: The road not taken!

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