Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The Flash #24
Story by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul
Colors by Brian Buccellato
Letterer - Taylor Esposito
Associate Editor - Harvey Richards
Editor - Wil Moss
Senior Editor - Brian Cunningham
I like this cover by Manapul and Buccellato, but I must confess: I don't love it. It's just very … purple. And as much as I love seeing images relating to their origins in the background, I think this cover would have been strengthened had those images been clearer. But then again, this cover had to be out for the solicits long before the Reverse-Flash was identified, so I guess a certain degree of obscurity was required.
Picking up right where we left off last issue, the Reverse-Flash has drained a lot of the Flash's powers to take them back in time 15 years. Daniel West is finally exacting his revenge by killing his father, but he didn't count on the 8-year-old version of himself with a 12-year-old Iris witnessing the murder.
The depowered Flash is helpless to stop Daniel from killing his dad and lashing out at everybody in the room. Reverse-Flash then starts to grow and mutate, and Flash realizes that Daniel has caused more trauma to himself then his dad ever did, which is altering time and causing the transformation. It's only when Iris calls him a monster that Daniel ends his rampage and begins to calm down. Flash tells him that going back in time only creates more problems. Instead, we have to learn to deal with the bad things in our past to grow stronger and keep moving forward.
Getting slowed down gave the Flash the chance to think things through. And although he doesn't entirely understand how, he is able to drain Daniel's powers and allow the Speed Force to move time forward and "right the ship." In no time at all, Flash and Daniel are back in the Salt Flats with Iris. Flash tells Daniel that he hit the reset button and his father is still alive. Iris begs Daniel to tell her he didn't kill Albert, Marissa and Gomez, but he confesses to the murders and says he'll do it all again once he gets the chance. Dr. Elias then pulls his gun on the Flash and yells at him for causing more damage with his powers. But Flash simply knocks him out, tells him to shut up, and destroys his gun, saying, the Speed Force is his responsibility, not Elias'.
We then head over to the Central City Dining Hall, which is host to the 40th anniversary party of Mr. and Mrs. Spivot. Patty is dancing with her dad when Barry shows up in a red bow tie, apologizing for being late. Patty's dad is happy to finally meet Barry, and he leaves the two of them to share a romantic dance. Barry tells her there's no more Speed Force killer, and she tells him to set the superhero stuff aside for the evening. As the two lovers dance late into the night, Barry is reminded he needs to find the balance between his two lives and occasionally slow down to appreciate moments like this.
Dr. Darwin Elias then returns to his lab, which seems to be in a constant state of disrepair. Flash pays him a visit to say he's very lucky that Iris didn't die, and he leaves with a final warning: "Stay out of my way."
Iris visits Daniel at Iron Heights Prison, and he asks her to use her powers to free him. But she reminds him that she lost her powers when he shot her with Elias' gun. She asks him why he did what he did, and he says he only wanted to give the two of them a pain-free childhood. Iris explains that she is who she is because of her past, and she wouldn't ever want to change that. She says that her real brother died years ago, and walks away. But as a security guard passes Daniel's cell, his watch goes backwards a couple minutes.
We cut back to Barry, who is having a hard time sleeping. He considers going back in time to save his mom, but he realizes he couldn't do that without risking his present with Patty. He realizes that he can't change the past, but he can change the present. Even though he had Patty hide the case file of his mother's murder, Barry decides to find it and reopen it. Not to dwell on the past, but to fight for his dad's future.
The next morning, Patty wakes up to a news report of a damaged fighter jet falling out of the sky, and Nora Allen's case files spread across the floor. As Flash races to save the jet, he repeats his mother's words: "If your'e not moving, your'e not living." He renews his vow to run for everybody. And no matter what happened in the past, or what will happen in the future, he will always keep trying.
The End. Well, this is not technically the end of the Manapul-Buccellato run, but for all intents and purposes it is. This last image of the Flash they give us might be the last time Manapul draws the Flash, and it is a beautiful reminder of The Flash #1. Manapul and Buccellato also did a great job of wrapping up their story and setting things up for the next creative team. Barry has been through a lot in the past two years, and now he's primed and ready to jump into some more adventures. He now lives with Patty; he still wants to solve his mom's murder; and he has plenty of new and upgraded villains to keep him occupied.
The story. To truly appreciate this issue, you need to read at least all six parts of the Reverse storyline, and preferably the entire Manapul and Buccellato run. Almost everything got wrapped up nice and neatly, yet nothing was closed off entirely. The Reverse-Flash can and will return when the time is right. And who's to say that Dr. Elias is done trying to kill the Flash? This last issue was the perfect denouement for this run. After so much wild running around and fighting, it was nice and necessary to calm things down, take a deep breath, and prepare for the future.
Emotional resolution. If you wanted this fight to end with a big slugfest, then you'd be disappointed with this issue. But I'll point out that issue #23 had more than enough fighting for this story, and by the time we got here, the only way to stop the Reverse-Flash was to appeal to his emotions. Daniel West has now lost all sense of reason, but when he sees his sister in distress, he'll listen. This wasn't exactly the way I expected this to end, but it made sense. And for anyone who might be mad that the Flash didn't know how he saved the day, I'll just remind them that this is entirely consistent with the New 52 Flash. He has never fully understood his powers. Dr. Elias told him one thing, Turbine told him another, and the gorillas said a third thing. All of these theories about the Flash's powers don't necessarily contradict each other, and they add a healthy dose of ambiguity to give future writers some wiggle room. I like that there's an amount of the unknown and unexplainable with the Flash, but I can understand why someone won't like that.
Nice romance. Barry's relationship with Patty has been through a lot, and at several points, I thought it would end. Even heading into this issue, I wouldn't have been surprised had Barry missed the anniversary party and that led to a breakup. Of course, Patty might be mad at Barry for reopening his mom's case, but I now think this relationship is too strong to fall apart over something like that. And as much as I love Iris, I don't want her to break up Barry and Patty just because "that's the way it's supposed to be." If and when Iris gets together with Barry, we're going to need a pretty darn good reason.
The art. Is there anybody else who draws in such a fun, innovative style? If there is, please let me know. In the meantime, I'm going to keep telling everybody that Francis Manapul is the best artist in comics right now, and every issue he works on is worth picking up just for the art. I am really going to miss him drawing the Flash, but I have two years' worth of back issues that I can and will continue to re-read over and over again.
I did notice that Patty's parents were now celebrating their 40th anniversary when we were previously told it was their 30th. Perhaps they became 10 years older as a side effect of this story's time traveling. Or it was probably just a boring and innocent typo. I also am very sad that Turbine wasn't mentioned here, either, but I'm holding out hope that Buccellato will get around to him with his final three Flash issues.
Final score: 10 out of 10
Next time: Now that the Flash has finally ended the threat of the Speed Force killer, he can rejoin the Justice League, which is headed into the Trinity War in Justice League #22.