Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Flash #21

"Reverse Part 2"

Francis Manapul Co-Writer and Artist
Brian Buccellato Co-Writer and Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Wil Moss Editor
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor

This is one of my favorite Manapul-Buccellato covers. The blue background works perfectly with the yellow in Kid Flash's costume, helping make this striking image stand out even more. It's about time Kid Flash and the Flash share a cover together, and watching them fight is even more exciting. Although this scene does not happen inside, I could have seen something close to this happening had Kid Flash kept being a punk. There were a couple of times in this issue that I wanted to grab him by the throat myself. :)

Continuing the Flash's investigation to find the Speed Force killer, he decides it's about time he met with this teenager named Kid Flash. Flash knows he's a member of the Teen Titans and most likely isn't the killer, but he would like to get some information from him. But when Flash confronted him, Kid Flash immediately took off — implying he's hiding something. So Flash started chasing Kid Flash around the world, passing through the Haukadalur Valley in Iceland.

Upon seeing he can't simply outrun the Flash, Kid Flash decides to visit the Louvre in Paris, France, to distract Flash by pulling down paintings and priceless works of art. When that doesn't work, Kid Flash goes to the Grand Erg Oriental in Northern Algeria to lose the Flash in a dust storm. This buys him just enough time to zip over to Bangalore, India, to grab a bite of masala dosa and have a quick conversation with Tim Drake, aka Red Robin. Kid Flash tells Tim that Flash said something about a murder, but he didn't stick around to find out, thinking he probably just wants his name back. He then begins to brag that next time Flash shows up, he'll knock him flat on his ... but then Flash shows up and asks, "On my what?"

Flash grabs the teen and the Speed Force's connection to time and space triggers a reaction that shows Flash a glimpse of Kid Flash's past — a trial in the future. Naturally, this only makes Kid Flash angrier, and he takes off again. Flash chases him from Banaue, Philippines, to Sydney Australia, to Taranaki, New Zealand, to Viti Levu, Fiji. As they run, Flash realizes that Kid Flash is not connected to the Speed Force, but something almost alien. He wishes he could just talk to him and that Kid Flash would stop acting so impulsive.

In his desperation to lose the Flash for good, Kid Flash starts to run a little too fast and accidentally breaks free of gravity. He starts floating higher and higher in the air, while the scientist in Barry starts over-explaining everything. Apparently Kid Flash has reached escape velocity — meaning his kinetic energy is equal in magnitude to the gravitational potential energy that keeps us on the ground. This only makes Kid Flash freak out more, but the Flash has had this happen to him before, so he's able to save Kid Flash by grabbing him and controlling his mass through vibration to allow the laws of gravity to kick back in.

They land hard on the shore of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Flash suggests Kid Flash start wearing armor. Kid Flash snaps back at him, but finally asks what he wants. Flash explains about the Speed Force killer, but tells Kid Flash that he's not a potential suspect or victim because he's not connected to Speed Force. Flash tries to ask him about his past, his powers, and even brings up the possibility of them being related. Kid Flash, however, remains on the defensive, refusing to tell Flash anything. He also reveals he doesn't know too much about himself, either. Kid Flash denies Flash's offer to help, but Flash vows to sit down with him as soon as the Speed Force killer is caught. The Teen Titans then show up in a jet to pick up Kid Flash, while the Flash, back at square one in his investigation, decides to pay Floyd Gomez a visit.

In Otis' Diner in Central City, Daniel West is trying to show his sister, Iris, that he's turned his life around. Iris, however, is skeptical, and asks Daniel if he's visited their dad, but he says he promised to hurt his dad if he ever saw him again. Daniel apologizes for all his mistakes, and says he'd erase his negative past if he could. But now he's on the right path and needs forgiveness from his sister. Iris tells him he needs to start with their dad, but Daniel says he can't forgive him.

We then cut to Patty Spivot, who is trying very hard not to get mad at Barry. He forgot to pick her up and made her walk in the rain. But all is forgiven when she sees he remembered her parents' anniversary party and already set up all the tables.

Meanwhile, Gomez, aka Sprint, is trying to run away from the Speed Force killer. But this time, he's not able to get away and is killed by the Reverse-Flash, who says, "Three down ... two to go ..."

The Good:

The art. What a gorgeous race around the world. Spread after spread of beautiful, amazing artwork. This issue is one great example of why I'm buying more individual physical comics. My iPad can't give the two-page spreads justice, and the collected trade paperbacks often hide a lot of action in the middle of the page due to how the books are bound. You gain so much when you read these stories they way they were intended to read.

The story. The majority of this issue was taken up with a high-speed chase around the world. But Manapul and Buccellato still managed to squeeze in a great moment with Barry and Patty, some important foreshadowing with Iris and Daniel, and another freaky attack by the Reverse-Flash. And altogether, I'm still enjoying the murder mystery here. Barry's doing what any policeman would do — he's tracking down every possible lead. And this one didn't work out, and I'm fine with that. It's a more realistic story than the Scooby Doo mysteries.

Barry meets Bart. It's about time! I know Kid Flash's main book is Teen Titans, but he really needs to start making more appearances in The Flash. I really love how his personality clashes perfectly with Barry's. It actually reminds me a lot of my little brother when he was about Bart's age. He would never listen to me and purposefully do the opposite of what I wanted just to make me mad. I don't know if teenage readers appreciated seeing such a snarky Kid Flash, but I did. I can empathize with Barry.

Fun science. I don't say this enough, but Manapul and Buccellato always do a great job of incorporating scientific principles into their stories. Either they know a lot or do a lot of research for each issue. Either way, it's very fun and hearkens back to an essential characteristic of old Flash stories from the '60s. I was so fascinated by the fact that Kid Flash was floating away, that I got carried away in Barry's explanation like he did. Then Kid Flash had to shout at both of us to remind us that he was in real danger. I like to imagine that Bart's voice cracked a bit just then. :)

The Bad:

Why didn't we get to see any other Teen Titans? We got a nice page of them last time, so why couldn't we see Red Robin picking up Kid Flash? Well, this is a really minor quibble from an otherwise fun issue. And hopefully Kid Flash and the Teen Titans will show up in The Flash again before too long.

Final score: 9 out of 10

Next: Flash vs. Reverse-Flash!

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