Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Flash #16
"Gorilla Warfare Part 4: Love and Sacrifice"
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
I thoroughly enjoy this cover by Manapul and Buccellato. I love the action, I love the colors, but I don't love the Arrow ad. (It's just not a very good show. Too much like Smallville, i.e., superheroes for girls.) So let's enjoy the black-and-white version.
Unlike the busy, experimental cover of issue #15 (which I didn't really care for), this cover is simple, bold and effective. It's the main protagonist versus the main antagonist, and that's all you need here.
Our story begins in Central City, five years ago. Barry Allen is on a date with Iris West on a very windy day. Their playful flirting is interrupted when a strong gust scatters Iris' papers. Barry quickly catches them (maybe a little too quickly), but sees the papers are related to the recent arrest of Iris' brother, Daniel. Feeling like Iris is only using him for his police connections, Barry angrily ends the date.
Now, Barry is sitting on a bed, telling Patty Spivot about his plan to turn himself in to Grodd. Patty naturally isn't too happy about this plan, but she trusts in Barry. He apologizes for concealing his identity, but she says they'll talk about that later and sends him away with a kiss.
The Flash can feel everyone who has been touched by the Speed Force, so he uses that ability to track Grodd down to Dr. Elias' laboratory. He wishes he could've promised Patty he'd come back, but knowing what he's going to do, he can't do that. But he has resolved to do whatever it takes to stop Grodd and save the Gem Cities.
Back to the fight in Central City, the Rogues have taken high ground on Captain Cold's ice wall. As a couple of buses of human hostages approach, Weather Wizard knocks the gorillas off with some lightning. Heatwave then traps them in a ring of fire, and Glider sends out her ribbons from inside the Mirror World to guide the buses through the ice. One of the bus passengers is Daniel West, who is not happy with idea of going from prison to the gorillas to the Rogues so quickly. Darryl Frye and his team then show up to take on the apes.
Cut back to five years ago, Iris is visiting Daniel at Iron Heights Prison. He is furious with her for not being able to enlist Barry's help, but she seems genuinely guilty about being dishonest with Barry. Daniel writes her off and Barry, as well, calling him a wet blanket.
Now, Iris is inside the Speed Force, hiding from a rampaging wooly mammoth in an old Soviet tank. Her companions, Albert, Gomez and Marissa are kind of panicking, but Iris is able to keep everybody together. They try to get the tank operating, when Albert suddenly begins to glow. He causes the tank's main gun to fire, which pushes the tank off the cliff.
We return to the Flash, who is now in chains and being lectured by Grodd for cowardly only using his powers to maintain the status quo instead of changing the world. When the Flash doesn't respond to Grodd's monologue, he throws a spear at the Flash, but it seemingly disintegrates before it reaches his face. The Flash had been gathering his energy during Grodd's speech and opened a portal that transported him and Grodd to the Speed Force.
Grodd seems a bit caught off guard at first, but then Flash explains everything and Grodd feels his powers grow exponentially. Flash, however, is also confident, and proclaims himself King of the Speed Force. But before these two titans can begin their fight, Flash feels another presence, even stronger than Grodd's. The old tank then crashes down right in front of them, and out pops Iris.
The art. Fabulous as always, this issue had lots of big "money" action shots and Grodd has never looked better. I also imagine Buccellato had a lot of fun with the Rogues, flashbacks and the Speed Force providing him a wildly diverse pallet. Or maybe that just meant a lot of extra work for him. Either way, I sure enjoyed looking at this issue. Not even reading — just taking in the pictures.
The story. Just because the art is amazing, that doesn't mean the story was lacking in any way. This was such a fun read, especially after I felt they held back a little bit in the last issue. This issue was the perfect setup for the climatic finale of this Gorilla Warfare arc that I have enjoyed so much. All the pieces were put into place, and there still was a healthy amount of action, too. After I read this issue, I basically did nothing but pace back and forth in my room, waiting for issue #17 to come out. And that is the ideal response for the second-to-last part of a story.
Iris' relationship with Barry. Their tumultuous relationship in the past was referenced clear back in issue #3, so it was great to finally get to see exactly how that all went down. Yes, what Iris was doing was pretty bad and not fair to Barry, but I think he also overreacted a little bit, which I think is a great touch to make it more realistic. Relationships aren't one-sided affairs. I also like the idea of Iris still having feelings for Barry five years later. Another fun thing I picked up on this time in these flashbacks was that Daniel really dislikes Barry. This could help improve his case to be the Reverse Flash. (Sadly, I won't get to that for a while. I have lots of back issues to go through first.)
Flash's new power. I love seeing the Flash use his powers in non-running ways. Lots of people say that all he does is run fast, but they obviously have never read a Flash story. Manapul and Buccellato have put the speed mind to good use, and now we see the Flash willingly enter the Speed Force. Not only that, but he has enough control to take in just one other person with him. And without a cosmic treadmill! Even though the cover said they'll be fighting in the Speed Force, I just assumed they'd end up there by accident, so I was surprised and pleased to see what they did inside.
Hmm ... well, I guess Flash and Grodd could have exchanged a couple of blows before the tank landed in front of them, but that is a teeny, tiny, inconsequential complaint. This was a flat-out great issue.
Final score: 9 out of 10
Next: King of the Speed Force!