Monday, June 17, 2013

The Flash #17

"Gorilla Warfare Part 5: The Way Home"

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

So Matt Idelson went from Editor to Group Editor for whatever reason. Anyway, the cover is another classic by Manapul and Buccellato. Flash is triumphant, as we knew he would be, and in a bit of parallelism, he is beating his chest like a gorilla. But it's not at all cheesy. It's simple and powerful.

I am very fortunate to own a physical copy of the sketch variant (got it cheap through eBay). It is simply gorgeous and the prized piece of my small, but growing, Flash collection. Now if only I could get a sketch variant of Flash #1 ...

Our story begins with our hero and villain in the Speed Force, where scenes of your life play by in the sky. We see what happened to Grodd after his encounter with Flash, and we're given some insight into his mind. He believes Flash stole his birthright, then buried him under Gorilla City's ancient temple. Grodd felt the elders committed treason by leaving him for dead. Eventually, General Silverback rescued him and Grodd inspired an army by proclaiming himself the Lightning Bearer — the Chosen One. He put to death all who opposed him and led the invasion of Central City. Now, he is in the Speed Force, giving the Flash the option of who dies first — him, or his friends.

Flash chooses none of the above, so Grodd lashes out at Iris. Flash steps in front of the punch, and his armor begins to shatter like before. This time, however, it repairs itself instantly and Flash explains again that he is King of the Speed Force. He then proceeds to beat the snot out of Grodd, but the fight isn't entirely one-sided.

Just outside Central City, the Army remains on standby in front of the perceived ring of fire. Meanwhile, Darryl Frye and his task force manage to breach the football stadium. Darryl figures out how to disconnect the machines and Glider pulls them up into Mirror World through a large sheet of ice hanging over the stadium. She can't quite get all the machines up there, so Turbine helps push them up with a whirlwind. The elder gorilla rejoices at his freedom when the connection is broken from the human hostages, including Forrest, who utters the classic line, "Those damn dirty apes ..."

Once the mirage disappears, the Army sees the coast is clear and charges into the city. Darryl is pinned by a gorilla (I'm going to say it's General Silverback), and is saved when the gorilla is shot and killed by Patty Spivot. A tank rolls into the stadium and the Rogues immediately retreat to the Mirror World. The gorillas, feeling abandoned by their king, also begin to retreat. While rushing to their pods, a couple of them find Solovar, who is still barely alive. They rescue him and head back for Gorilla City.

We return to the Flash, who is rather enjoying his fight in the Speed Force. The rampaging wooly mammoth also wants to join in the fun, so Flash rips off Grodd's helmet, slams its big spike in the ground to pin Grodd by his cape, and scoops up Iris before she is trampled by the mammoth. The wooly mammoth instead scoops Grodd up in its tusks and carries him far away.

Flash tells Iris he can get them all out of the Speed Force, but she worries that means Grodd could escape as well. Flash assures her, however, that while the Speed Force has many doors, he's the only one with a key. He loads everybody up in the tank and then pulls it out of the Speed Force, and drops it right in the middle of the football stadium.

We then see Turbine being reunited with his wife and daughter, but it is only an illusion created by Mirror Master, who would like Turbine to join the Rogues. Captain Cold tries to join the conversation, but Sam angrily reminds him that Lisa is the new leader, not him. Glider then takes over by announcing their next items of business: first, getting the civilians back to Central City (including Daniel West), and second, finding out what all their new toys are worth (including the gorillas' machines and Dr. Elias' monorail).

Speaking of Dr. Elias, we see him return to his lab in Central City one week later. He is on his feet, but must use a cane after Glider nearly killed him. His lab is a complete wreck thanks to Grodd, and it appears that all the Speed Force energy has been taken. However, Elias opens a secret panel on the floor, revealing a few more battery cells. He says, "Okay, Flash ... now it gets serious."

We then cut to Barry Allen, being interviewed by a detective. Barry is telling him the same story being told by Iris, Albert, Gomez and Marissa, which is that none of them remember anything after being sucked into the Speed Force during the Captain Cold fight three months ago. The detective assures Barry they'll be able to reverse his death certificate, but he can't make any promises about him getting his old job back. Darryl, who was sitting in on the interview, pulls Barry aside and tells him that he knows he's lying, but trusts he has a good reason for it.

Barry then bumps into Iris, and they briefly discuss how odd it is to have no memory of the Speed Force. Iris does, however, suddenly have wooly mammoths on the mind. Patty then finds Barry and gives him a big kiss, while Iris awkwardly sneaks away. Patty asks if everything's okay, and Barry says, "I think so ..."

One month later, a mysterious figure in a mysterious location says, "Move forward. He always says move forward. But it's time he learned ... sometimes ... you gotta go in reverse." There's an explosion and we someone wearing armor similar to the Flash's, except it's black.

The Good:

The art. I'm so glad Francis Manapul was able to draw this whole issue. Sometimes at the end of big events, artists (Jim Lee) burn out and have to recruit extra help, leaving the climatic issue with less-than-stellar artwork. That is not the case here! Every page is so beautiful and well-done — I am even happily buying every Flash issue twice (one print copy and one digital copy).

The story. What an ending! So many loose ends were tied up, but there is still plenty of fodder for future issues. I loved the less-is-more approach to this, in that the Flash didn't have to do everything by himself. He entrusted the city to his friends and villains/allies. There were a lot of people involved and they all got something to do. And the Flash finally got somebody he could punch a few times! But what really makes me happy was that this issue didn't just wrap up the past five issues of Gorilla Warfare, but it extended all the way back to Flash #1. That's the continuity I crave!

A confident Flash. Not to sound like the Flash had ever been whiney or emo, but most of the past issues gave us a slightly depressed Flash that was constantly second-guessing himself. He did have good reason, with all the stuff that happened to him, but it was so refreshing to see him finally rise above all that and be the confident, butt-kicking hero we all knew he could be. He basically said, "Game over, Grodd" and that was that. And what really makes this moment so rewarding is having seen the journey Flash has been on over the course of this series. He has grown up now and moved to another level in his superhero career.

The future looks bright. This was the finale, so it ended lots of stories and closed lots of doors. But for every door that was closed, another was opened, creating an intriguing future for the Flash. Solovar survived, perhaps to become another ally for the Flash. Turbine was being manipulated by the Rogues and might join them with their giant Speed Force energy battery cell. Daniel West is now free to possibly fight against the Flash or help him. Patty is reunited with her boyfriend and now knows his secret identity. Iris is back, and probably wants to hook up with Barry again. Dr. Elias has also survived and has vowed to renew his fight against Flash. And, of course ...

The Reverse Flash. I was kinda sad when I heard this new Reverse Flash wouldn't be yellow, but once I saw this black costume, I fell in love with it. This last page didn't tell us much about this new villain, but the prospect of having him around is incredibly exciting.

The Bad:

Nothing. I can't think of anything this issue could have improved upon. I liked how they handled Grodd, he's stashed away for now, but could easily return. I liked how all the minor characters were involved. And I liked how the Flash acted here. Yes, he did joke around a little bit, but it never felt annoying or out-of-place to me. It was simply a masterpiece of a comic book.

Final score: 10 out of 10

Next time: Through the magic of the Speed Force, I will reverse time and review some issues that I previously missed. First up, DC Universe Presents #0. Did you know the Blackhawks were involved with Darkseid's invasion? Did you care? Well, apparently not too many people cared because that book got canceled. But for the completion's sake, I will cover that story and all the other little stories from failed titles in DC Universe Presents.

1 comment:

  1. This was also a 10 for me! The scene with Flash and Iris "dancing" while he dodges Grodd and the mamooth was simply perfect. The loving look on their faces gets my hopes up that Barry and Iris will ultimately be together.