Friday, August 23, 2013

Justice League of America's Vibe #3

"Trial by (Flash) Fire"

Sterling Gates Writer
Pete Woods and Fabiano Neves Pencillers
Sean Parsons and Fabiano Neves Inkers
Brad Anderson Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Kate Stewart Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor

So Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg only lasted two issues. I'm not surprised that Johns left so soon — he's got a lot on his plate — but Kreisberg? I haven't been able to find any reason why he didn't just take over the title after Johns left. I heard someone say he was really busy with Arrow, but if that was the case, then why did DC even bring him on this title in the first place? Remember, Sterling Gates was (quietly) announced as the new writer before Vibe #1 even came out. Vibe is nowhere near popular enough to withstand this kind of creative inconsistency. He really needs a big name as the writer or the artist to get people to pay attention, and by issue #3, he had neither. I wouldn't be surprised if this book is canceled as soon as Trinity War ends.

The extra-wide cover is by Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse. This was part of DC's April gimmick of WTF (What the Fifty-Two) covers. As we'll slowly see in this blog, the Flash was the victim of this gimmick quite a bit ... er, I mean, the Flash was lucky to be featured on so many WTF covers! These covers, with a "big surprise" folded underneath, didn't always work. Sometimes, the surprise had nothing to do with the inside issue, and other times, writers were forced to hastily adjust their stories to match the WTF cover (like The Flash, especially). And in this case, sometimes the surprise wasn't surprising at all. I think Kid Flash looks really good here (even better than Vibe), but we knew he was coming after the last issue. So there's really no reason to try to hide it. Also, I really feel bad that Pete Woods still isn't trusted to do the cover of his own book. Of course, he again couldn't handle all the pencil work on his own, so maybe it's good that DC didn't add to his workload.

So our story picks back up in Detroit, Michigan, where Vibe is trying to be a responsible superhero by going out on patrol. He climbs to the top of a tall building, but his older brother, Dante, reminds him that he has no way to quickly get down to the street to stop any crimes he might see. Amanda Waller is listening in on their conversation, and she reminds us again that Vibe's main purpose is to take down the Flash (just in case we haven't read the previous issues).

ARGUS then sends a helicopter to take Vibe to New York. They tell him he needs to track down Kid Flash, who they say is a thief, an arsonist, and likely an inter-dimensional breacher. They find Kid Flash in the subway tunnels, and Vibe uses his powers to momentarily disrupt Kid Flash's speed. Vibe chases him down and gets separated from the ARGUS agents. Kid Flash grabs Vibe, and an interesting thing happens when they touch. There's a big electrical feedback that knocks out all electronics nearby, and at ARGUS headquarters in Detroit for some reason. But more importantly, Vibe got to see a brief glimpse of Kid Flash's past, which was in the future. It looks like Kid Flash was flying some fighter jets, involved in some riots, was a masked vigilante of some sorts, and was put on some kind of trial.

Vibe is surprised to learn that Kid Flash is not only a human, but a good guy. He and Kid Flash then find a mysterious hole in the ground that bears Kid Flash's logo. Kid Flash admits that he knows nothing of his past, and was hoping to find some clues here. Vibe decides to help him by touching him again, but Kid Flash flips out this time. He thinks Vibe is working for the bad guys, so he beats him up and takes off.

We then see that the power outage Vibe caused has allowed Gypsy to escape from The Circus. And the issue ends with a mysterious stranger appearing in Vibe's home and delivering a cryptic message.

The Good:

Well, it was pretty fun to see Kid Flash. I've always been interested in Bart Allen — I liked him on the Young Justice cartoon, and I've read some old Impulse issues that were real fun — but I've never read any Teen Titans of the New 52. That might be because I don't like Kid Flash's new uniform, and I think Red Robin is a stupid name, and I want Stargirl and a green Beast Boy, and basically the Teen Titans I know and love. This new version has never appealed to me, so I've been completely in the dark about Kid Flash's origin. Unfortunately, this issue was not allowed to really tell us anything, which is understandable. I also noticed a minor problem here: Amanda Waller referred to Kid Flash tapping into the Speed Force a couple of times, but that would be contradicted by the Flash in a later issue. But I'll forgive this, under the assumption that Waller doesn't fully understand the Speed Force, and just kind of made an assumption.

The Bad:

No Flash. We only saw a picture of him, and we truthfully didn't need it. If you're reading Vibe #3, there is a 99.99% chance that you already know what the Flash looks like, so you don't need to see a picture of him when he's casually brought up in conversation. However, that one little picture gave me an excuse to read this issue with Vibe meeting Kid Flash, and it wasn't too bad, honestly. Unfortunately, once Kid Flash left the book, he took my interest with him. I don't care about this Gypsy girl, and I was thoroughly unimpressed with the sudden appearance of this yellow and silver visitor.

And so we sadly come to the end of my time with Vibe. I really like the concept of the character, and I thought he had a strong debut issue. I like his youthful naïveté, his family dynamics, and the fact that he  was a minority that didn't shove it in my face by speaking a lot of Spanish or something like that. (Note:  I have nothing against minorities in comics, I just hate it when it feels like the creators are screaming "Diversity!" at me. Vibe never did this, which made him refreshing.) And of course, my biggest reason for following Vibe was his potential to one day fight the Flash. But with this issue, it seems like that matchup won't happen for a long time, and in the meantime, I can't suffer through this inconsistent writing and art anymore. As far as I know, the Flash (or any images of him) haven't shown up in any other issues of Vibe. I could be wrong, and if I am, please let me know, and I will gladly review those issues. But for now, it looks like I won't be reading Vibe anymore.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: Remember when I used to review The Flash? Seems like it's been forever. So why don't we give Flash #18 a try?

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