Saturday, May 31, 2014

Flash New 52 Reading Order


If this is your first time here, I'm sad to say that this is likely the final post on this blog. I'm taking an extended break to focus on my other blogs, bartallenimpulse.blogspot.com and sportsandsuperheroes.blogspot.com. But while you're here, feel free to check out my reviews for each Flash appearance in the New 52 — up through Forever Evil.

The Flash #25
The Flash #0
Justice League #2
Justice League #3
Justice League #4
Justice League #5
Justice League #6
Action Comics #10
Batman: The Dark Knight #3
Batman: The Dark Knight #4
Batman: The Dark Knight #6
Batman: The Dark Knight #7
Captain Atom #3
The Flash #1
The Flash #2
The Flash #3
The Flash #4
The Flash #5
Justice League #7
Justice League #8
The Flash #6
The Flash #7
The Flash #8
The Flash #9
Action Comics #14
The Flash #10
Justice League #9
Justice League #10
Justice League #11
Justice League #12
Justice League #13
Justice League #14
Green Lantern #13
Green Lantern #14
Green Lantern Corps #14
The Flash #11
The Flash #12
The Flash Annual #1
The Flash #13
The Flash #14
The Flash #15
The Flash #16
The Flash #17
Superman #15
Superboy #16
Supergirl #16
Superboy Annual #1
Superman #16
Superboy #17
Supergirl #17
Superman #17
Justice League #18
The Flash #18
Dial H #11
The Flash #19
Justice League Dark #19
Justice League Dark #20
Justice League Dark #21
The Flash Annual #2
The Flash #20
The Flash #21
The Flash #22
The Flash #23
The Flash #23.2/Reverse-Flash #1
The Flash #24
The Flash #26
The Flash #27
The Flash #28
The Flash #29
Justice League #22
Justice League of America #6
Justice League Dark #22
Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger #11
Justice League of America #7
Justice League Dark #23
Justice League #23
Justice League of America #8
Justice League of America #9
Justice League of America #10
Forever Evil #7

Those are all of the essential Flash issues from the inception of the New 52 to the end of Forever Evil. I also reviewed every New 52 issue that had any glimpse of the Flash, even if it was just a picture, flashback or zombie version of him. I call these passive appearances.

Batman #25
Team 7 #0
DC Universe Presents #0
Justice League #23.1/Darkseid #1
Superman #7
Captain Atom #10
Worlds' Finest #2
Action Comics #12
Resurrection Man #12
Stormwatch #0
Animal Man #12
Animal Man #13
Animal Man #16
Animal Man #17
Justice League of America's Vibe #1
Justice League of America #1
Justice League of America's Vibe #2
Justice League of America's Vibe #3
DC Universe Presents #19
Supergirl #23
Justice League of America's Vibe #10
Superman/Wonder Woman #4
The Flash #23.3/The Rogues #1
The Flash #23.1/Grodd #1
Justice League Dark #24
Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #1
Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #2
Forever Evil #3
Justice League of America #13
Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #6

So that's it. It's been a very fun ride. I might return to The New 52 Flash at some point in the future, but in the meantime, I hope you'll join me on my journey through Bart Allen's career.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Forever Evil #7


"Chapter Seven: Crisis of Self"

Geoff Johns Writer
David Finch Penciller
Richard Friend Inker
Sonia Oback Colorist
Rob Leigh Letterer
Kate Durré Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is by David Finch, Richard Friend and Sonia Oback. It's alright, I guess. Nothing special. There are several characters on this cover who don't appear (or make a very brief cameo) in the issue. I guess I was just hoping for something more iconic for the end of such a large event.

Our story begins with Lex Luthor and Bizarro teaming up with Batman and Catwoman to save Nightwing. He was captured by the Crime Syndicate, who then revealed his secret identity to the world and hooked him up to a machine that would cause a large explosion unless his heart stopped beating. So Luthor technically killed Dick Grayson, much to the anger of Batman. But then Luthor easily revived him with an injection of adrenaline. The newly repaired Cyborg then arrives and announces that he's defeated Grid. He takes Batman and Catwoman with him to save the Justice League, while Luthor and Bizarro leave to battle the Crime Syndicate.

Deathstorm tells Ultraman that their mysterious prisoner, Alexander Luthor, has been freed and called down the power of Mazahs to become the Earth 3 version of Shazam. Mazahs has also killed Johnny Quick and gained his super speed. Superwoman then arrives with Mazahs and announces that he's the father of her unborn child. The four begin fighting, and Superwoman helps Mazahs kill Deathstorm so he can absorb his powers.

The fight then spills out to Luthor and his crew of Bizarro, Captain Cold, Sinestro and Black Adam. Mazahs kills Bizarro, which devastates Luthor. He then comes up with a plan to jam a lightning rod in Mazahs' chest and have Black Adam call down the lightning of Shazam to turn him back to human. This plan doesn't quite work, but it does knock out Superwoman.

Meanwhile, Cyborg, Batman, Catwoman and Dick find Firestorm, who has the rest of the Justice League trapped in his head. Batman starts to use Wonder Woman's lasso of truth to free them, when Owlman suddenly arrives. But he doesn't want to fight, explaining that he's lost everything — his Gotham and even his Alfred, aka the Outsider. All Owlman wants is the chance to work with Dick Grayson again. But then he disappears as suddenly as he arrived.

Lex Luthor soon finds himself fighting his double. Since they both have the same voice, Luthor shouts, "Mazahs!" And it works, calling down the lightning to turn Alexander Luthor back human. Lex then kills Alexander, and Sinestro and Black Adam move the moon out of the way so the sunlight can start to weaken Ultraman. Just then, Batman finally rescues the Justice League.


In his weakened state, Ultraman begs Luthor to kill him, but he refuses — wanting him to live out his days as the weakest man on Earth. Luthor does, however, kill Atomica, whose belt has broken, keeping her about three inches tall. Luthor then rejoins with the Justice League, which is quite concerned about Superman's kryptonite poisoning. But Luthor handles the problem, performing a quick brain surgery to save the Man of Steel.

Everyone more or less returns to their normal routine, with the exception of the villains now being acknowledged as heroes. Batman sends Dick on a secret, dangerous mission, and Luthor convinces a young Ted Kord to keep his company. Flash and Cyborg search high and low, but are unable to find any trace of Vibe or Element Woman. Owlman is still loose, Ultraman is sobbing uncontrollably in a cell, and Superwoman is gloating over the imminent birth of her super-powerful, super-evil baby.

Luthor asks his team of geneticists to make him a new Bizarro clone, which will take five years. He then does a quick Google search on Dick Grayson to learn that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Superman and Aquaman then discuss the great threat that destroyed Earth 3. They assume it was Darkseid, but we see it was really the Anti-Monitor.


The Good:

Epic story. Forever Evil was the biggest, most important DC story of the year, and everyone needs to read it. The story itself was pretty good, but more importantly, it seems to be setting up something even bigger down the line. Here are the biggest takeaways from Forever Evil: Dick Grayson is no longer Nightwing, Lex Luthor knows who Batman is, the top three members of the Crime Syndicate are still alive, and the Anti-Monitor is approaching. That is some pretty interesting stuff, but not necessarily Earth-shattering ... yet. As for the Flash, he basically goes right back to where he was before, but now his old villain Captain Cold is going to join the Justice League. That seems like a neat idea, although I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't last too long. But all in all, Forever Evil was a pretty fun ride.

The Bad:

Too many conveniences. This is a problem that has always plagued Geoff Johns, where certain things just happen just ... because. Perhaps my biggest complaint here was how Luthor defeated Mazahs. As established in the New 52 continuity — in stories written by Johns himself — the casual use of the word "Shazam" does not turn Billy Batson into the caped superhero. He has to say that word with meaning, or in other words, actually exert some sort of magical force from within himself in order to transform. I'd assume that it should work the same way for Mazahs. But somehow Luthor was able to trick the system by having the same voice. That makes absolutely no sense. Is there some sentient, but easily confused being lurking in the heavens, listening and waiting for Alexander to say the magic word? Then when he heard someone sound exactly like Alexander, he decided to send down the lightning anyway? So lame. Just about as lame as Johns' solar eclipse, which required Sinestro and Black Adam to undo. If those two didn't push the moon out of the way, would it have stayed there forever? Normally, eclipses don't last too long and are over only a localized area. If it were possible for somebody to move the moon, I'm sure it and the Earth would keep on moving like normal. Yeah, the ocean's tides would get messed up, and there would probably be a bunch of tsunamis everywhere. But ultimately, the moon would keep on revolving like normal and the sun would soon come out on its own. It's funny how I can accept stories about a man who runs faster than the speed of light, but strange errors like this bug me so much. But that's the way it is. I can only stretch my imagination so much, and when a writer breaks the established rules of this reality, I rebel.

Late book. There's no doubt I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if it came out on time. But it was delayed a long time for David Finch to finish his extra pages. Since the New 52 began, DC has been very good about making deadlines, often compromising the art to get the book out on time. That's not an ideal solution, but in certain cases, I think circumstances demand it. And this is one of those cases. There were about five different titles that were also delayed because they absolutely could not come out until after Forever Evil #7. And there were about 10 other books that ideally should have been delayed but went out ahead of this issue anyway because DC couldn't afford to delay everything. And I don't think it was worth it one bit. Yes, the Forever Evil trade will have consistent art throughout, but I don't think Finch's art is that special. But if DC was unwilling to get another penciller to do some pages, then why didn't they at least get some extra inkers to help out? Or better yet, why didn't they plan far enough ahead to give Finch enough time to finish everything himself and still have the book come out on time?

Final score: 4 out of 10

Well, I didn't get to end my blog on the highest note, but now I can say I've covered every major Flash appearance from the inception of the New 52 through the end of Forever Evil. I won't miss this blog too much, since I'll be having plenty of fun covering every appearance of Impulse at bartallenimpulse.blogspot.com. But I'll always be open to the possibility of returning to this blog. I'm just going to take an extended leave of absence first.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Flash #29


"Digging Up the Past Part 3"

Brian Buccellato Writer
Agustin Padilla Artist
Matt Hollingsworth Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Kate Durré Assistant Editor
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

The cover is by Mikel Janin, who is one of my favorite artists. This is a very pretty image, and the Flash looks great, but nearly everything about this cover is completely wrong. Yes, Flash does fight that green ghost we've seen the past two issues, but that ghost never once threatens a single woman in this issue, especially not Nora Allen, the Flash's mother. I'm very disappointed with DC for letting this mistake get through. Possibly Buccellato's original script involved some time travel and an appearance by Nora, but that was not at all what happened here. In fact, you could say the exact opposite happened.

And speaking of DC's sloppiness, this issue is called "Digging Up the Part Part 3," when last issue was simply called "Deadman Walking" and the one before that was "History Lessons Part One." So what am I supposed to call this three-issue story arc? The Keystone Killer arc? I don't know. I feel like DC is going through a rough patch, or rather I'm going through a rough patch with DC. With this rather weak ending to Buccellato's run and the massive delay to Forever Evil, I'm quite upset with the company at the moment.

This issue picks right up where the last one left off. Realizing that the ghost of Ulysses Sutter needs to perform a DNA test to find the descendants of Marshall Fletcher, Flash and Deadman race to the Central City Police Crime Lab, only to find Director Singh surrounded by dead bodies.


Flash quickly reviews the security camera footage to see that Singh didn't enter the room until after the murders were committed. Flash also learns that the ghost possessed the night janitor, Kevin, to kill the people, then possessed Forrest to learn that Darryl Frye is the last known descendant of Sutter. This is troubling news, since Sutter can only temporarily possess people unless they're related to him.

So Flash runs over to Darryl's house at 4575 Carmine Way (which is a nod to the great Silver Age Flash artist Carmine Infantino). But instead of finding Darryl, Flash finds Forrest, who says the ghost made him go to the house and found a note from Darryl, challenging the ghost to meet him at the last place they met.

Barry then meets up with Patty at the crime lab and fills her in on everything. She tells Barry that Darryl might be his biological father, which would allow the ghost to permanently possess him. Barry says he doesn't have time for speculation, and he begins combing through Darryl's office to find some clues. He comes across the old case file on the Keystone Killer, and he also finds a file on his own paternity results.

We cut to Darryl confronting the ghost at the place Sutter died. Darryl says he made a mistake last time by burying the ghost, but this time there won't be anything left to bury. He allows himself to become possessed and pulls the pins on a bunch of grenades strapped to his chest. But before they can explode, Flash shows up and tosses the grenades into a nearby lake. Sutter then accesses Darryl's memories and realizes that Darryl isn't a Sutter, but Barry is.

The ghost tries to possess the Flash, but the House of Mystery suddenly arrives. Deadman tries to coax the ghost inside, but he refuses. So Flash allows the ghost to possess him, then he vibrates in a way to take control of it and trap it in a room in the House of Mystery.

Later, Barry meets up with Darryl and tells him he figured out that Darryl destroyed all the lineage records and doctored the DNA results to protect him. Darryl explains that he always knew the Keystone Killer would return, so he broke a few laws to prepare for it. He then tells Barry that even though he loved Nora, the timing never worked out, and he is not Barry's biological father. Barry then  tells Patty this whole tragedy was caused by his obsession over his mom's case, so he's going to put the case aside once again.

Darryl then visits Henry Allen in Iron Heights and tells him they must never tells Barry who really killed Nora.

The Good:

Darryl Frye. This ended up being his story, and I quite liked that. We didn't get a whole lot of details about his first encounter with the Keystone Killer, but I really like the idea that Darryl was a bit of a ghost hunter in his younger days. And we found out once and for all that Darryl is not Barry's father. But when one door of mystery closes, another opens. So apparently Darryl and Henry know who killed Nora and they've been conspiring all these years to keep it a secret. If Buccellato and/or Manapul were still writing The Flash, then I'd excitedly wait to see what this is all about. But now they're gone and I seriously doubt the new writers will pick up this plot line. I also would have liked to see a confirmation that Darryl knows Barry is the Flash. He has to know by now, right?

The Bad:

This wasn't the best way to end Buccellato's run, but it wasn't the worst. The mystery was pretty interesting, if not a bit convoluted at times. And the supernatural themes were surprisingly not too annoying. I actually liked how Deadman saved the day at the end, especially since he basically did nothing last issue. The art in these issues were never great, but not repelling. Agustin Padilla's style is actually very similar to Patrick Zircher's, so it all worked out. However, he did tend to draw Barry with a constant scowl on his face, and he made Barry look downright furious when he hugged Darryl and said, "I love you." I don't think that was intentional. If Manapul drew it like that, then I'd think that Barry is still angry with Darryl, but with Padilla, I think it was just a mistake. But I'll never know for sure, because I'm sure the new writers are going to be more concerned with the new version of Wally West than the relationship between Barry and Darryl.

Yes, these past three issues have had their problems, but I still maintain that they are better than the average comic book out there. And as a Brian Buccellato fan, I felt I owed it to him to see his run through to the end. He and Francis Manapul made some truly amazing Flash stories, and now that both creators are officially off the book, I'm deeply saddened.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next time: Forever Evil #7 has finally come out! And as such, it will be my final review of the New 52 Flash. I think Forever Evil is a good stopping point for me, as I've been growing rather frustrated with the New 52 lately. And I truly have no interest in this new version of Wally West. Maybe I'll come back sometime later, but for now, I need some separation.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Flash #28


"Deadman Walking"

Brian Buccellato Writer
Patrick Zircher Artist
Matt Hollingsworth Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Kate Durré Assistant Editor
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

The cover is by Pasqual Ferry and Brad Anderson, and I don't like it one bit. Ferry's figures are little more than misshapen meat bags with muscles randomly bulging out here and there. I don't mind "spoiling" the fact that Deadman will be here, but I would have much preferred that Zircher draw the cover himself. At least that way I would have gotten a sense of what the inside art is going to be like.

Last issue was titled "History Lessons Part One," so you'd assume this would be Part Two, but that's not what it's called. It really bugs me when a writer and his three editors can't continue this little bit of consistency. A minor issue, I know, but when I see simple things like this get screwed up, I lose some confidence in the creative team.

This issue picks right up where the last one ended, with Flash battling a green ghost that is calling for the death of Fletcher. But Flash keeps blacking out and feels like someone else is controlling his body.


As you may have learned from the cover, Deadman, of the Justice League Dark, has possessed the Flash in an attempt to protect him from the ghost. But Deadman's efforts fail, and soon the Flash has both Deadman and the ghost in him. The ghost says Flash will help him find all the Fletchers, but Flash manages to free himself by vibrating in such a way that expunges both spirits from his body. But as soon as the ghost is freed, it possesses a nearby motorcyclist and takes off.

Deadman then explains to Flash that he was in the House of Mystery when he was notified that Flash unleashed the Keystone Killer. Flash always thought the Keystone Killer was just an old ghost story, and he tells Deadman he was exhuming the body of Archibald Dean (who was called Archibald Dylan last issue). Deadman explains that Archibald and the Broome Hill Butcher, Hollis Holden, were merely hosts of the evil spirit, which seeks to destroy all Fletchers, the founding family of Central City.

At the Gem City Museum of History and Science, the possessed biker kills a security guard and smashes open a display of Marshall Fletcher, the old miner we saw at the beginning of last issue.

Flash takes a sample of Archibald's DNA to Patty Spivot to analyze, then he takes Deadman to visit Hollis in Iron Height Prison. By possessing the murderer, Deadman can access his memories and the memories of the ghost that possessed at the time. Apparently the Keystone Killer was Ulysses Sutter, who fell victim to Fletcher's paranoia and greed. Fletcher attacked Sutter, then caved in the mine, leaving Sutter to die a slow and painful death. Sutter cursed Fletcher with his dying breath, and his spirit won't rest until all of Fletcher's descendants are dead — a number that must be in the thousands 150 years later.

At the Central City Police Department Crime Lab, Director Singh orders Patty and Forrest to investigate the museum homicide. Forrest complains about his workload and says Singh should bring back Barry to help. But Captain Frye again forbids it. Frye then pulls Patty aside to tell her to stop helping Barry work on his mother's case. Frye says the real killer will never be found, as he worked that case harder than anyone because he cared so much about Nora. This leads Patty to suspect that Frye is Barry's real father.

Flash and Deadman visit the Central City Hall of Records to track down all the Fletcher descendants, but Flash can't find any genealogical records before 1989. Deadman does some research on his own, and he learns that Sutter can't possess anyone for very long unless they're one of his descendants. Flash asks Deadman if he saw his mother's death in Hollis' memories, but he didn't. Deadman then sheepishly admits that he also accidentally learned the Flash's secret identity, but was surprised by it.

Patty calls Barry to the museum to show him a possible copycat of the Broome Hill Butcher has struck again and stolen Fletcher's old mining helmet and pickax. Patty then tells Barry that Frye has stopped her from analyzing the DNA data pertaining to Nora's case. Barry says that's OK, since he now knows Hollis Holden didn't kill his mom. But the talk of DNA does help Barry figure out the Keystone Killer's motives.

When Sutter possessed the Flash, he saw that Barry had access to the police database, and since someone had hidden all the genealogical records, Sutter tried to use Barry to find all the Fletchers. That failed, Sutter took some of Fletcher's items to run a DNA test on. Flash and Deadman quickly head back to the police department, where they find Director Singh surrounded by dead bodies, with a bloody pickax in his hand.

The Good:

Shocking ending. I was quite bored with this entire issue until I got to the final page. And that was quite a striking image. Even though I know Singh comes out of this fine in Rogues Rebellion, I really felt bad for him being involved in this bloody killing spree and potentially possessed. I find Singh to be a very interesting character and hope to see more writers do more with him. Same with Darryl Frye. And we got another slight turn of the cog in the Darryl-Nora mystery, but it wasn't quite enough to get me real excited in this issue.

The Bad:

Buccellato tried to weave an epic, expansive mystery, which works at some parts, and not so much at others. He has so many characters and names floating around, he actually forgot one of the names, and sadly not one of the three editors was able to catch it. I also would have liked a bit more explanation for a couple of weird moments. Like right after Flash kicked the ghost and Deadman out of his body. Flash and Deadman just sat there while the ghost possessed another body and took off. These heroes should have been able to notice this, but I suppose they were both exhausted from that little ordeal? It would have been an easy fix to have Flash pass out after kicking out the spirits, and have a concerned Deadman hover over the Flash's body instead of chasing after the ghost. I also found it a bit odd that this ghost from 1848 is so savvy about DNA and modern technology. I guess he's been active enough in recent times to know about such things, but again, a quick line to explain this would have helped. But all in all, this is still a good comic book, just not as great as The Flash once was.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next:What did he do?

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Flash #27


"History Lessons Part One"

Brian Buccellato Writer
Patrick Zircher Artist
Matt Hollingsworth Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Brian Cunningham and Wil Moss Editors

The cover is by Pasqual Ferry and Matt Hollingsworth, and I don't like it one bit. It seems Ferry was so worried about not spoiling anything, he basically drew nothing at all. What we have here is a terrified Flash against a vague, colorless background, running away from ... green rags? How is this supposed to draw in readers? And why couldn't Patrick Zircher draw it? I'm not a huge fan of his style, but I think it would have been better for the comic had he done the cover.

Our story actually begins in the year 1848, in the Midwest Territory. We come across two miners in a heated argument. The one named Marshall accuses Sutter of hoarding the precious gems for himself, and in his anger, kills his partner with a pickax.

We then return to now, at the Keystone Diamond District, which has just been robbed by Chroma and Tar Pit (this story takes place before Chroma was killed by Grodd in The Flash #23.1). Flash quickly finds the two villains fighting each other in the Fletcher Square Station. Chroma tells Flash to "taste the rainbow," and tries to hit the speedster with his light-based powers. Flash easily dodges Chroma's attack, and takes him down with one blow. Tar Pit starts to escape by melting deeper underground. Flash runs to a nearby firetruck, borrows an extinguisher, and uses it to freeze Tar Pit. He then realizes the lava-based villain has uncovered a chamber full of skeletons.


Barry Allen returns to the scene with the Central City Police Department to investigate the 17 skeletons. They've apparently been there for years, and Barry wonders why the killer stopped. Captain Darryl Frye suspects it's because the killer is already in prison. Hollis Holden, aka the Broome Hill Butcher, was convicted 20 years ago for murdering 32 people. Barry's from Broome Hill, but he's never heard of this serial killer. Director David Singh then asks James Forrest to handle this case, but he says he's too busy. Barry, who now works in the cold case room, says he has plenty of time and offers to take the case, but Frye refuses.

In the cold case room in the Central City Police Department, Barry talks with his girlfriend, Patty Spivot, about Frye's curious decision. Barry says he'll respect his captain and follow protocol, but he's still going to help Forrest with the case. Barry eventually learns that at least six of the 17 victims died within the past 10 years — while Holden was in Iron Heights Prison. This means there's another killer out there. It also means that killer could be the one who murdered Barry's mom, Nora Allen.

So Barry takes his evidence and suspicions to his dad, Henry Allen, who is still in Iron Heights for Nora's murder. Barry's found old documents where Holden mentions being compelled by an accomplice, and these 17 victims were killed in the same manner as Holden's victims. To increase the coincidences, the same week Nora was killed, two of the victims were abducted from the same neighborhood. To Barry's surprise, Henry doesn't want to hear any of this, and he yells at Barry to stop.

Undeterred, Barry decides to become the Flash to visit Hollis Holden in his cell. Flash asks Hollis who his accomplice was, but Hollis warns him not to go looking for him. When Flash presses the issue, Hollis says the accomplice is already dead. The cell doors then open to let the prisoners out for dinner, and Hollis uses this moment to attempt suicide by jumping off the balcony. Flash catches Hollis, then is attacked by an old foe, Girder. Flash impatiently beats Girder up, then gets a name from Hollis — Archibald Dylan.

Barry then asks Captain Frye for permission to exhume Dylan's grave so he can get a DNA sample to compare to his mom's case. Frye adamantly refuses, and tells Barry to drop the case. Barry says Darryl doesn't understand, since Nora wasn't his mother, to which Darryl admits he loved Nora and had a history with her. Barry is furious he's just now learned about this, and he storms out the office while Darryl insists that Dylan didn't kill Nora.

The Flash then goes to the Central City Cemetery to dig up Dylan's grave anyway. As soon as he reaches the coffin, he's attacked by a green ghost that says, "Fletcher must die!"

The Good:

The mystery of Nora Allen's murder. Finally, we're addressing, or coming close to addressing the great tragedy in Barry's life. Really for the first time since issue #0 are we getting some more details about Nora and Darryl Frye. This was the biggest element missing from the Manapul-Buccellato run, and I'm very glad Buccellato came back to explore it. Interestingly, I believe most of this issue was originally planned for issue #6 — especially the origin of the Gem Cities nickname — but editorial interference required Manapul and Buccellato to start bringing in the Rogues and Grodd. And that was a wise move for the early days of the New 52 — we needed to see some familiar faces after the Mob Rule arc. But by issue #27, it is more than acceptable to go off the beaten path a little bit. I'm not  a huge fan of the Flash fighting ghosts, but I'm not entirely opposed to it, either. Flash made a cameo in Justice League Dark that turned out alright, so why not bring a little Dark to The Flash?

The Bad:

I don't have any major complaints. The art wasn't amazing, but not horrendous. Just good enough to get the job done. Having Chroma quote the Skittles slogan was a bit cheesy, but I was happy to see him, Tar Pit and Girder, even if it was just for a brief moment. This issue does lack the excitement and importance of the Gorilla Warfare and Reverse-Flash stories, but it's still a pretty decent comic book.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next: Deadman walking

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Superman/Wonder Woman #4


"What Any Man Would Do"

Charles Soule Writer
Tony S. Daniel Pencils
Batt and Sandu Florea (pg. 1) Inks
Tomeu Morey Colors
Carlos M. Mangual Letters
Rickey Purdin Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family
Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston

The cover is by Daniel and Batt with Morey, and I really enjoy the coloring and basic pose of everything. However, showing the glass shattering on a photo frame to me implies that the relationship has broken up, not merely been exposed. Oh well, that's a real nit-picky problem with an otherwise good cover.

I wish this issue provided a few clues so I could know for sure whether it occurred before or after Trinity War and Forever Evil. For simplicity's sake, I'm just going to say it happened before all that. This issue is evenly split between two stories, and the first story involves General Zod fighting Superman in the Fortress of Solitude and freeing Faora from the Phantom Zone. But the Flash isn't in that story at all, so I'll move right on to the second story.

"The Blog Read Around the World"

Charles Soule Writer
Paulo Siqueira Pencils
Hi-Fi Inks and Colors
Carlos M. Mangual Letters
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family
Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston

So Clark Kent is currently working on an independent news blog with Cat Grant, and one day, an anonymous source sent Cat a flash drive with irrefutable proof that Superman and Wonder Woman are dating. Cat ran the story, and it instantly went viral. We then get a fun little montage of basically everybody in the DC Universe reacting to this news.


Clark is naturally quite concerned about who this anonymous source might be, but Cat is too thrilled with their blog's burst in popularity to be worried.

The Good:

Barry and Hal together again. The timing of this is confusing, since Hal Jordan left the Justice League a long time ago, but as we saw in The Flash Annual #2, he does occasionally take time out of his busy Green Lantern schedule to pay a visit to his old friend, the Flash. I assume this is taking place during one of these visits. And I really love that he brought up the "dibs" thing, which happened way back in the first few issues of Justice League, and was something that had been on my mind since Superman started dating Wonder Woman. This little exchange between Hal and Barry was perfect, and really makes me crave more stories with those two. Couldn't DC give us a Brave and the Bold title for Flash and Green Lantern?

The Bad:

Very little Flash. That one side-shot of his head is all we got, and that's not enough to recommend to Flash fans out there. If you haven't been reading Superman/Wonder Woman, then you'd be quite confused with all the Zod stuff. But Tony S. Daniel's art is always very good, and Charles Soule is proving himself to be a top-notch comic book writer. So you probably should check out this series, just not for the Flash.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: I begin Brian Buccellato's final three issues of The Flash, starting with issue #27.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Flash #26


"Flash Out of Water"

Christos N. Gage Writer
Neil Googe Artist
Wil Quintana Colorist
Sal Cipriano Letters
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Wil Moss Editor

The cover is by Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse. Sadly, Booth didn't do the inside art, since he is a solid comic book artist, even if you could call his style "house style." However, Booth is currently the artist on The Flash, so if you like his work, be sure to pick up issue #30. This cover is pretty exciting, even if the Flash is twisting his body in a strange position. But the whole idea of this issue is putting the Flash in a seemingly impossible situation — being stranded 30,000 feet up in the air — and this cover conveys that scenario perfectly.



Our story begins at the Central City Airport, with the Flash chasing a woman named Spitfire. As her plane takes off, she opens fire on him with a machine gun. Flash vibrates through all the bullets, but doing so prevents him from grabbing on to the plane. And since Spitfire has stolen a bunch of deadly chemicals, Flash doesn't want to risk having the Air Force shoot her down. He tries to call the Justice League, but they're out fixing a broken satellite, so he asks the Air Force to lend him a ride in one of their jets.

We then cut to a flashback in Blue Valley, just outside of Central City. Barry Allen is investigating the death of Dr. Carlson, one of his old teachers. Since he died in a room full of toxic fumes, his body can't be properly examined. Patty Spivot arrives to help Barry out, and she thinks Dr. Carlson just stumbled into the chemicals. But Barry knew him to be extremely careful. They then examined the surrounding area and found evidence that a helicopter was parked nearby.

Flash then runs to the Blue Valley Regional Airport and is able to find out that the helicopter was stolen by Esther Bryant, aka the Sky Pirate, or Spitfire. Flash also receives a report that the stolen helicopter was destroyed, which means Spitfire has upgraded to a faster plane, which brings us back to the present.

Spitfire steals some more biological weapons from an airborne helicopter before the Flash finally catches up with her. She quickly shoots down the Air Force jet, and the pilot ejects to safety. The Flash, meanwhile, figures out how to run on the clouds by vibrating his feet to create extreme, localized updrafts. As soon as he reaches the plane, Spitfire throws the chemicals out the door, destroys the plane, and escapes via her personal jetpack.

Flash catches the vials and drops them off at a police station. He then uses a series of whirlwinds to guide the crashing plane into a stadium in Chicago. After making sure there aren't any people around, Flash allows the plane to crash on the football field, and he contains the explosion with his super speed. He then quickly finds Spitfire, who was attempting to escape through the river. She admits her plan was to go where the Flash couldn't, but now realizes there is no such place.

The Good:

Unique perspective on the Flash. This is the first New 52 Flash issue that didn't have Brian Buccellato or Francis Manapul working on it, and it was kind of nice to see what a new writer could do with the Flash. Gage did a good job of presenting unique aspects of Flash's powers. I never considered the drawbacks of vibrating through objects, but it made perfect sense here. I was also happy with the quick explanation for why the Justice League didn't help out. I didn't need much, just a brief line. I also liked how Flash figured out how to run on clouds, I just wish he went through a little trial and error first. And guiding the plane into the stadium was an exciting scene, but I don't think Googe's art really did it justice. That moment needed a big two-page spread at least.

The Bad:

Dr. Carlson. He was completely unnecessary to the plot and only created more problems for this issue. I didn't appreciate the fact that this man was one of Barry's old friends — as if the Flash would need any added incentive to stop Spitfire. And having Barry examine the death scene doesn't make any sense because Barry is supposed to be working in the cold case department at the Central City Police Department. And the issue was really weakened by presenting Carlson's death as a mystery in a flashback. At that point, we already knew Spitfire stole the chemicals, so it was a waste of time to have Patty speculate that Carlson's death was an accident. And why was Patty there, anyway? She's a blood analyst.

All in all, this was a perfectly average comic book. It had the unfortunate distinction of being a one-shot filler issue after the epic Manapul-Buccellato run and before Buccellato's final three-issue arc. The art was nothing special, and the story was decent, but felt a bit cramped. Perhaps if Gage and Googe were given two issues, we would have had something really great. There would have been more room to learn about Carlson and Spitfire, and showcase the Flash running on clouds and saving the plane.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: Superman/Wonder Woman #4

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #6


"Forever Rogues"

Brian Buccellato Writer
Scott Hepburn Artist
Nick Filardi Colorist
Taylor Esposito Letterer
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

The cover is by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, and I am once again annoyed that Scott Hepburn didn't draw it. Is it really too much to ask for to have the inside artist also draw the cover? Anyway, even though I'm not a fan of Shalvey, I do think this is a pretty decent cover. We haven't seen Grodd in a while, so it's great to have him front and center, as well as to be reminded of the chaos caused by Forever Evil — the eclipse, the destroyed city and the Flash statue, which is the only reason I'm reviewing this issue. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but the coloring actually kind of hid Glider from me at first. She just really blended in until I gave it a closer look, then it was a nice little surprise for me. I do wish Mirror Master was included here, though, as he has pretty much been the main character of this mini-series.

Our story picks up in the Gem Cities after the fall of the Justice League. The Rogues have been chased around by the Crime Syndicate and its cronies through Metropolis and Gotham City, losing Captain Cold and Heatwave along the way. Cold joined up with Lex Luthor, while Heatwave may or may not have actually died to help his teammates escape. The remaining members have now finally found themselves back home, but the Crime Syndicate has sent a ton of villains — including Gorilla Grodd — to kill them.


The Pied Piper, who once was a Rogue until he started dating Director David Singh, has decided to come to the aid of his old friends. He uses one of his flutes to hypnotize the Parasite into fighting Grodd. This takes out two of the biggest hitters, but the Rogues are simply outnumbered by the rest of the villains. When all hope seems lost, the Glider suddenly reappears and saves them. Apparently Lisa heard Hartley's music and was awakened to full strength.

Glider quickly resumes her leader role, and has Mirror Master create a large mirror. Weather Wizard then summons a hurricane to push all the villains into the Mirror World, while Glider makes the Rogues intangible so the wind passes right through them. Trickster then delivers the final blow, shattering the mirror with his rocket fist to trap the bad guys. Lisa then kisses Sam, Hartley embraces David, and the people of the Gem Cities thank their new heroes.

The Good:

The Pied Piper. Poor Hartley has shown up just a couple of times in the New 52, and each time he did, he was immediately knocked out by someone. Finally, he's been given a chance to shine, and I loved every minute of it. Taking control of Parasite was a great and intelligent display of his powers, and I really liked his backstory about him being hesitant to reveal his homosexuality to his teammates. And as is usually the case these days, nobody cared that he was gay. But dating a cop was another story. But now it seems the Rogues respect that he's no longer a criminal. I hope the new Flash writers do more with Pied Piper and make him Barry's new scientist ally to fill in for Darwin Elias.

The Bad:

Unanswered questions. This issue didn't feel like the conclusion of a mini-series, but rather the next installment of an ongoing series. But that's not going to happen anytime soon, so we're stuck with this and some vague hope that the next Flash writers will address some of this issues and continue some of these story lines. My biggest complaint is Gorilla Grodd. Somehow, Johnny Quick found and rescued him from the Speed Force, then he emerged with super speed and psychic powers. He immediately conquered the Gem Cities, got bored, and left. Where did he go? What did he do? And where did all the other gorillas go? And did Grodd actually kill Solovar? We don't know. All we saw was him being teleported there by Grid, and then not really do anything. I guess some of these questions will be answered in Forever Evil #7, but I doubt it. I think the responsibility for Grodd's story should have fallen within the Rogues issues. Same with Turbine's. Anybody remember him? He was kind of an important player when Grodd first invaded Central City, then he was offered a spot on the Rogues, but was never seen from again. If he rejected the Rogues' offer, where did he go? I know he wants to go back to his family in 1940, so it seems unlikely he'd completely withdraw himself from the world of superheroes and villains. But to get more specific about this mini-series, what exactly happened to Heatwave? I wouldn't mind having him actually die — he went out in a heroic way. But I want to know for sure one way or the other.

I still don't like Scott Hepburn's style, but it wasn't a major distraction here. All in all, this was a pretty fun mini-series, but I don't think it lived up to its potential. Part of that had to do with the inconsistent and rather unpalatable art, and another part had to do with DC's editorial interference limiting Buccellato's story. I am still happy, though that the Rogues had their own mini-series, and I hope DC gives them more opportunities to shine.

Final score: 5 out of 10.

Next time: I would like to conclude Forever Evil, but that final issue has been delayed — several times. So I'm now going to backtrack and review a Flash issue that happened before Forever Evil, The Flash #26.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Justice League of America #13


"It's All Behind You"

Matt Kindt Writer
Eddy Barrows and Tom Derenick Pencils
Eber Ferreira, Marc Deering and Allen Martinez Inks
Hi-Fi Colors
Rob Leigh Letterer
Rickey Purdin Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is by Barrows and Ferreira with Gabe Eltaeb. It's not a bad cover by any means — it shows a major scene that happens within the issue, and everybody looks pretty good. Even the Flash is there, although it's pretty tough to see him behind the logos and titles.

Our story begins in Los Angeles, with Stargirl surveying the ruins of her house. She then realizes that she's not actually looking at anything, but seeing things a half-second after she thinks about them. And this can only mean she's caught in one of Despero's illusions. She fights with Despero for a bit, then manages to get away and find Firestorm. Since she still has some of Martian Manhunter's powers, Stargirl is able to enter Firestorm's mind and convince Jason and Ronnie to stop fighting. She then uses her telepathy to contact the Justice League and guide them out of their psychic prisons.


The Justice League helps Stargirl fight Despero, but then she notices a doorway to another prison, and realizes that she and J'onn never left the prison in the first place. But Martian Manhunter tells her he has managed to contact the outside world, and he's working on a plan to free them with Wonder Woman's lasso of truth.

The Good:

Nice plot twist/explanation. Sometimes it gets annoying when stories do the whole "everything was just a dream" bit, but in this case, I quite welcome it. The past few issues of Justice League of America have been rather strange, with a lot of things happening all too easily. To find out most of this was happening in Stargirl's head is both plausible and relieving. There were a handful of things bugging me, but now they've been resolved thanks to this issue. Everything is as it should be, with the Justice League still safely locked away, waiting for the conclusion of Forever Evil to free them. Now if only that final issue would stop being delayed ...

The Bad:

The art was what you'd expect from having two pencillers, three inkers and team of colorists. But I wouldn't call it bad by any means. All in all, I enjoyed this issue, and really have nothing to complain about. Yeah, I don't know exactly how or why Despero showed up, but that's completely on me, since I skipped from issue #10 to #13. And if I was really concerned by that, then I know where I'd be able to find that information.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next time: I know I said I wouldn't be doing anymore Rogues Rebellion issues, but Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #6 has the Flash statue on the cover, so I'll review the final issue of Brian Buccellato's mini-series.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Justice League of America #10


"In Your Head"

Matt Kindt / Writer
Tom Derenick and Eddy Barrows / Pencils
Tom Nguyen and Allen Martinez / Inks
Hi-Fi / Colors
Rob Leigh / Letters
Rickey Purdin / Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza / Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is by Barrows with Matt Yackey. I am glad that one of the pencilers on the inside pages got to do the cover, and I am very glad that the cover portrays an event that actually occurs in the comic. By all counts, this is a very solid cover, but not particularly awe-inspiring. One odd thing about it that bugs me is the perfect uniformity of the "holes" on Stargirl's costume. I imagine those are supposed to be rips and tears sustained during battle, but they look so clean and neat, it almost seems like Stargirl purposefully cut out those holes herself to make her costume more fashionable.

The story continues directly from last issue, with Stargirl becoming increasingly distracted by memories of her past. Martian Manhunter, who's stuck in her head, struggles to get her to pay attention to the current situation at hand. Stargirl has escaped the series of psychic prisons, but now finds herself surrounded by Deathstroke, Blockbuster, Shadowthief, Copperhead and Giganta.


The fight is a bit rough, but Martian Manhunter is able to coach Stargirl and share his powers with her until they escape and get to a quiet place. Stargirl manages to kick Martian Manhunter out of her head, then immediately takes off to protect her family. Martian Manhunter then uses his telepathy to find the Justice League inside Firestorm, who is about to blow up.


The Good:

Again, I really don't have a whole lot to say about this issue. The whole focus was on Stargirl's origin, which is completely fine because she needs to have her origin told, but I found the whole story quite unremarkable. She found her power staff in her stepdad's trunk. She didn't like him at first, but later they bonded, and now she considers him a part of the family. Very nice and sweet, but ultimately it has no bearing on the Forever Evil event, or anything to do with the Flash. At first, I thought it was a little too convenient that Stargirl had Martian Manhunter's powers, but the more I thought about it, it actually started to make a bit of sense. A little bit. But mainly I can't complain about things like that in this issue because I've already read issue 13, which has a pretty big reveal that explains everything.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. This is a Flash blog, and when I review a comic that has basically nothing to do with the Flash, I need to penalize it. This was a completely fine and interesting issue, it just does nothing with the character I'm most interested in. On one hand, it is nice to see that the Flash has been found and accounted for, and help is (slowly) on the way. But on the other hand, I know that the Flash can't be saved a minute before Forever Evil #7, so it's kind of frustrating to be given quick glimpses of Flash in duress scattered across these issues. Basically, I'm good and ready for something to happen, and it doesn't help that the final Forever Evil issue has been delayed.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: Justice League of America #13

Monday, March 31, 2014

Justice League of America #9


"Dark Art"

Matt Kindt – Writer
Tom Derenick – Pencils
Tom Nguyen and Allen Martinez – Inks
Gabe Eltaeb – Colors
Rob Leigh – Letters
Rickey Purdin – Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is by Doug Mahnke with Eltaeb. It's an alright, although rather generic cover. Mahnke's work is decent, but I would have preferred to see what Tom Derenick could have done — he's not a bad artist. And if you want to get technical — which I do — this cover misleadingly shows the exact opposite of what happens inside the issue. That really bugs me. It's one thing to show something that doesn't happen, but completely reversing the plot for the cover is a sin in my book.

The story continues with Martian Manhunter making his way through the various psychic prisons holding members of the Justice League. He comes across Madame Xanadu, who has creepily turned to black magic to try to save herself.


Stargirl has found a way out of the prison, so she ignores J'onn's orders to stay put and begins looking for him. But as she journeys through each prison, she becomes increasingly distracted with her own memories.

Martian Manhunter enters Aquaman's prison, where the oceans have evaporated and all the sea life has died. J'onn then finds himself in his own prison — a fiery place, where he battles himself.


Stargirl keeps working her way through all the prisons (flying right past the Flash) until she finds J'onn and saves him. But as soon as they escape, Martian Manhunter becomes stuck inside Stargirl's head, and they are surrounded by several super villains.

The Good:

I really don't have a lot to say about this issue. There weren't any major developments for the Flash or other characters I care about, and we only got to see three new prisons. Mostly, this issue was devoted to setting up Stargirl's origin, which is perfectly fine, since she hasn't had her own New 52 series yet — unlike Vibe, Katana, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Catwoman, and even Simon Baz in Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter in Stormwatch. So Stargirl definitely deserves to have some space in Justice League of America devoted to her, but I'm just personally not interested in her.

The Bad:

A couple of incongruities. I know the people in the psychic prisons are acting irrationally, but I can only handle so much of that. My first problem was Stargirl marveling at Wonder Woman's height. Did you forget that you've already met her during the Trinity War, like yesterday? My second problem was Aquaman declaring that "anything that walks on two legs WILL DIE!" Umm ... how many legs do you walk on, Aquaman? I guess I could be talked out of this complaint because of the whole psychic prison thing, but that, combined with the lack of Flash, will make me give this issue a below average grade.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next issue: All in your head!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Justice League of America #8


"Paradise Lost"

Matt Kindt Writer
Doug Mahnke Pencils
Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen, Keith Champagne, and Marc Deering Inks
Gabe Eltaeb and Hi-Fi Colors
DC Lettering Letters
Rickey Purdin Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is by Ken Lashley with Gabe Eltaeb, and I think it is a really neat cover. It's the iconic symbols of these characters left behind in the Forever Evil disaster. It really portrays the seem of gloom and despair created by this event. I do have a complaint, though, and that's Superman's cape. Didn't anyone at DC read Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics? He repeatedly established that the cape is indestructible, so it should never be in tatters like this. And this problem has been carried through all Forever Evil. Don't you think somebody would have stood up and said, "Wait, you can't draw his cape like that"?

Our story begins with Stargirl recounting the arrival of the Crime Syndicate and asking Martian Manhunter if the Justice League was really defeated.


J'onn J'onnzz wakes up to find himself in a field with Stargirl. He realizes they're in a prison, and Jason Rusch — one half of Firestorm — meets them and says he's been there a long time, but thinks they can escape. Jason leads J'onn down to the other levels of the prison, while J'onn tells Stargirl to stay up top.

The first prison they visit is Wonder Woman's. The Amazon is locked in an endless battle, believing Steve Trevor and Superman will be killed if she stops fighting. Jason rushes J'onn out of there, and they enter Shazam's prison, where the man-child gets to fight robots and smash whatever he wants without any repercussions.

Jason and J'onn then enter the Flash's prison, where Barry Allen is just sitting on a couch in a messy apartment, talking about all the things he's done today. He saved an old woman from being hit by a semi, rescued a man lost at sea, went on three dates with three different women around the world, decided to get his doctorate, saved a race car driver, stopped a robbery, looked up secret JFK files, looked up secret KGB files (which required learning Russian), battled Captain Cold, then compared coffee around the world. Flash says he did all those things just this morning, and he doesn't see why he should ever slow down. Since he has the ability to do everything, then why shouldn't he? But Martian Manhunter realizes that Flash hasn't actually left the room. He's caught in his own Speed Mind, just thinking about doing all those things.

Jason and J'onn then go to Superman's prison, where the Man of Steel is so guilty about killing Dr. Light, he's decided to fly fast enough around the world to travel back in time. J'onn then goes to Green Lantern's prison, where Simon Baz has grown tired of being called a terrorist, so he's become just that, and destroyed a city.

Meanwhile, Stargirl figures out how to escape the prison, but she finds the real world in complete chaos.

The Good:

Great prisons. I really like this concept of trapping the Justice League in prisons of their own making. They are the most powerful people on the planet, and the only ones who could defeat them is themselves. And combining this aspect with them being trapped in Firestorm's head really makes sense to me ... in a weird comic book way. I also thought each prison perfectly suited each character. Wonder Woman's warrior spirit won't let her rest, Superman's need to set everything right will send him on an insane, fruitless mission, and the child in Shazam will get too caught up in goofing around and having fun. Everything just worked here.

The Flash's prison. And of course, my favorite prison was the Flash's. I think the Speed Mind is the greatest contribution of the New 52. It's such a powerful tool for him, but a very dangerous one, as well. It nearly got him killed by Mob Rule, and he was only able to use it effectively when he was lying in a bed. I don't know if Matt Kindt came up with this concept, but he sure handled it well. The only nitpick I could think of would be Flash dating different people when he's already in a relationship with Patty Spivot. But I justify that as the Flash breaking free of all normal social and moral restrictions, and believing he has the ability to date as many women as he wants simultaneously. In normal circumstances, I think the Flash would also have misgivings about combing through secret government files just for the heck of it. But under this mindset, Flash believes he can do everything without any regard for the consequences. It's a pretty scary thought, turned sad and creepy when you realize the fastest man alive is spending all day sitting on a couch, just thinking about doing everything.

The Bad:

Looking at the credits to this issue, I was really worried about the art. It seems Doug Mahnke was rushed on his art, since he needed four inkers, and a couple of teams to color and letter the issue. Usually that severely negatively impacts the quality of the issue, but to my surprise, these guys pulled it off. No, it's not the best art it could have been, but it was solid. I think part of that helps because there were so many different prisons/environments in this issue that it made sense if things were a bit disjointed. And maybe it's because I liked the story so much I was willing to overlook some art problems. And maybe I only liked the story so much because I've gone quite a while without having the Flash actually do anything. Whatever the case may be, I quite enjoyed this issue, and have nothing to complain about.

Final score: 7 out of 10

Next time: Jailbreak!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Forever Evil #3


"Issue Three: Prisoners"

Geoff Johns Writer
David Finch Penciller
Richard Friend Inker
Sonia Oback Colorist
Rob Leigh Letterer
Kate Stewart Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is by David Finch, Richard Friend and Sonia Oback, and I don't care for it one bit. Most of it is because I can't stand David Finch's style. I understand the appeal of getting somebody like Finch for this dark, Forever Evil story, but I think he's a bit too sloppy to justify the amount of money this issue costs. Everybody's arms and hands seem out of proportion, and nobody's face looks quite right. Plus, nothing remotely like this happens inside. In fact, the exact opposite happens. Anyone expecting/hoping for a big showdown between these villains would be pretty disappointed once they read the issue.

Our story begins in S.T.A.R. Labs in Detroit, where Batman and Catwoman are explaining to Dr. Stone and Dr. Morrow what happened to the Justice League. After the robotic half of Cyborg split away from him, the Crime Syndicate showed up and Deathstorm did something to Firestorm to cause all the heroes to be sucked into the Firestorm matrix.


Batman and Catwoman were able to escape to the sewers with the nearly dead Vic Stone. They took him back to his dad in the Red Room, which contains the most advanced collection of technology, known and unknown, on the planet. While Dr. Stone works on his son, Batman learns that the Crime Syndicate has exposed Nightwing's secret identity. So Batman decides to leave to go help his old friend.

In Metropolis, at the remains of Galaxy Communications — a subsidiary of LexCorp — Lex Luthor, with some difficulty, gets Bizarro to help him connect to one of his hidden satellites. This enables him to monitor the actions of Ultraman, who is currently beating the snot out of Black Adam. But Ultraman begins to bleed after the fight, so he asks Grid to help him find Metallo, who is in Tooele, Utah. (Quick note: Tooele, pronounced two-will-uh, is in the middle of the desert near Nevada, and it's actually fairly close to the Salt Flats. Its remote location makes it an ideal place for military tests and such.) Luthor watches Ultraman fly in a rather unusual path, and he realizes he's avoiding the sunlight.

In Central City, the former home of the Flash, Power Ring and Deathstorm are punishing the Rogues for not destroying the city. Deathstorm removes Captain Cold's powers, and Power Ring destroys the glass the Rogues were using to escape to the Mirror World. This causes them to become separated in Metropolis. While the rest of the Rogues battled the Parasite and eventually went to Gotham, Captain Cold came across Luthor and Bizarro. They then were joined by Black Manta, who had saved Black Adam, and they all realize they hate the Crime Syndicate and decide to team up.

The Good:

The fate of the Justice League. I know the whole point of Forever Evil is to see how the world deals with the sudden and mysterious disappearance of the Justice League. But it was rather frustrating to be operating in the dark with no clue as to what happened. Now we finally have something. It doesn't explain everything, but I think it kind of makes sense. Firestorm is created when one person is sucked into another, so potentially, if someone like Deathstorm messed him up, then he could contain a bunch more people. True, it doesn't make sense how Batman and Catwoman were able to get away and not the Green Lantern, when he was the one keeping Vic alive with his ring, but I've come to accept all inexplicable actions performed by the Batman. He is by far the most popular character out there, and DC needs to keep him out and about. And I guess having a free Green Lantern would give the good guys too much of an advantage here. It still could have been handled in a better way, though.

The Bad:

I actually don't have much to complain about. Yeah, I don't like Finch's art, but it's not unbearable. And the lack of the Flash here was necessary and fitting. There was some overlap with Rogues Rebellion #2, but that was also necessary and rather minimal.  All in all, it wasn't a bad comic.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next time: We finally get an active Flash appearance in the Forever Evil arc. But instead of it being in Justice League, like one might expect, it's in Justice League of America #8.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #2


"Shattered"

Brian Buccellato Writer
Scott Hepburn Artist
Nick Filardi Colorist
Taylor Esposito Letterer
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Wil Moss Editor

The cover is by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. It is better than the first Rogues Rebellion cover, as it actually depicts some action. Plus it shows a fight that does happen inside the issue, even though the fight with Parasite doesn't last that long. The absence of Captain Cold is explained, but the absence of Weather Wizard is unfortunate. All in all, I'm not a particularly big fan of this cover. As always, I wish the cover artist was the same as the inside artist — although I don't think I would have enjoyed a Scott Hepburn cover much more. Shalvey's style is fine, I guess, and I really think my biggest problem here is the New 52 design of Parasite. My first introduction to the character was through Superman: The Animated Series, and I thought he was just fine not being a big, disgusting blob.

Quick disclosure before I begin the recap: In order to keep this blog focused and to prevent it from growing out of control like the Parasite, I have given myself very strict rules to only cover issues the Flash actually appears in. Rogues Rebellion presented a unique temptation. It is written by Brian Buccellato, focuses on the Flash's main villains, and has a storyline that stems directly from the pages of The Flash. So I made somewhat of an exception for these first two issues by counting the statue of the Flash as a passive appearance. But that's as far as I'll bend on my rule. So don't expect me to review the other Rogues Rebellion issues. Sorry. There's just not enough Flash for me.

Anyway, this issue begins in Central City, the former home of the Flash. The Justice League has disappeared, the Crime Syndicate has taken over, and Grodd has all but destroyed the Gem Cities.

The Rogues have just defeated a handful of Firestorm's villains, but now Deathstorm and Power Ring have shown up, ordering the Rogues to finish Grodd's work. But the Rogues are not killers — plus their former leader, Lisa Snart, remains in the hospital — so they refuse.

Power Ring quickly panics, and is the first to strike. They fight for a bit, but the Rogues are no match for Deathstorm, who alters Captain Cold's DNA to remove his powers. Mirror Master tries to evacuate the team through the Mirror World, but Power Ring blasts the glass they were using, which caused them to randomly pop up in Metropolis with Captain Cold separated from the group.

The Rogues are then attacked by a two-bit villain called Archer. He shots an arrow through Trickster's pinky toe, but Trickster gets the last laugh by knocking him out with his rocket fist. The Parasite then arrives, and tells them the Crime Syndicate has placed a large bounty on the Rogues. They try to fight him for a while, and Weather Wizard blasts him with some lightning, but that only makes him stronger. So Mirror Master again tries to evacuate the team, but Power Ring's blast has somehow disrupted his powers, so the Rogues soon find themselves randomly appearing in Gotham City, specifically in Poison Ivy's lair.

The Good:

Lovable Rogues. These guys definitely deserve more attention, and I am very happy this miniseries got the green light. It's also really fun to see the Rogues interact with the rest of the DC universe outside of the Flash world. Flash gets to hang with the Justice League all the time, but until now, the New 52 Rogues have been relatively isolated. Although this issue only gave us one fight with a proper, established villain — Parasite — it did end with the promise of fights with Poison Ivy and all the other wonderful villains of Gotham City.

The Bad:

The art. I'm sorry. I tried to give Scott Hepburn a chance. I really did. And I will be quick to point out that his work in this issue was improved from Rogues Rebellion #1. But I am simply not a fan of his style. It doesn't work for me, and it lessens my reading experience in what should have been a great comic otherwise. Plus, I think Hepburn is rather sloppy. When Trickster got shot by the arrow, it went right through the middle of his foot with a big blot of blood squirting out. I got excited to see someone sustain such a serious injury, but then Trickster quickly said he just hit his pinky toe. But that wasn't what Hepburn drew. And on the same page, Hepburn drew Trickster's left fist flying out to hit Archer, when its the Trickster's right arm that got ripped off by Grodd and replaced with a robotic prosthetic. This really makes me miss the perfect harmony between the text and the art from Francis Manapul's run on The Flash.

Editorial interference. I recently saw someone say that Dan DiDio is responsible for all arbitrary changes in DC and Geoff Johns is responsible for bringing back old ideas. I don't know how accurate that statement is, but it got me thinking. Johns definitely has written many stories that "return" to an older concept. He brought back Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, and now it seems he has his sights set on Captain Cold. But not the New 52 Cold with superpowers; Johns — who has said Captain Cold is a favorite of his — apparently wants the classic Cold back without any powers and a trusty cold gun at his side. Whether this was his doing or not doesn't really matter to me. The main issue here is that Buccellato was required to service his story to meet the demands of Forever Evil. That's the double-edged sword of major crossovers. You get to take part in a big, fun event, but you also have to sacrifice some creative freedom to do it. Ironically, from what I've heard from Manapul and Buccellato, giving the Rogues powers was an editorial edict. So now DC has suddenly reversed course on this. I kind of liked the stories with Cold struggling to adapt to his powers, and I'm not sure how taking them away is an improvement or a hindrance.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: Forever Evil #3

Monday, March 3, 2014

Justice League Dark #24


"Tiny Evils"

J.M. DeMatteis Writer
Mikel Janin Artist
Jeromy Cox Colors
Rob Leigh Letters
Kate Stewart Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor

The cover is by Mikel Janin, which is great because not only did he draw the inside pages, but he also is one of my favorite artists currently. And to make this a truly great cover, it depicts an actual event in the issue that also symbolizes the general tone and feel of the comic. John Constantine is attacked by nightmare versions of the Justice League Dark, and it all relates back to the Crime Syndicate in the end.

By the way, I know last time I said I'd do Justice League of America #8, and that it's been a while since I've updated this blog. Basically, I've been trying to let this Forever Evil story play out a little more to figure out a more correct reading order. In my research, I came across a nice website called readingorders.com, and I will mostly be following their suggested order.

So anyway, this story opens with a beat-up John Constantine waking up in the House of Mystery, surrounded by a bunch of tiny demon versions of himself.


After getting scratched and bitten quite a bit, Constantine manages to get rid of the demons, and tries to figure out how he got back to the House of Mystery. He remembers Pandora's box, the Crime Syndicate arriving, and the Justice League being attacked.


Constantine tried to teleport the team to safety, but he was too weak. He then realizes that the House of Mystery itself saved him. The House then shows Constantine the growing threat of Blight, which is fed by every negative emotion and small sin anyone in the world has.

Nightmare Nurse then shows up and helps Constantine exorcise the residual negative effects from holding Pandora's box. She also offers to help him find his teammates, and since she knows Constantine's not on friendly terms with Swamp Thing, she decided to grow her own instead.

The Good:

The art. I'm kind of surprised at how much I'm enjoying Janin's art. It isn't particularly innovative or unique. But it is very clean and consistent, which makes it a breath of fresh air for me. If you're not going to be as eye-popping as someone like Francis Manapul, then at least make sure your execution is at a high level, and Janin certainly does that. So even if you don't care about Justice League Dark, you should still give the series a try just to see a well-drawn comic book.

Lingering affects from Pandora's box. One of my many complaints with Trinity War was the great ease with which Constantine grabbed the box. Everybody else who touched it instantly began attacking everybody and everything in sight. But then Constantine picked it up like it was no big deal. And the justification — that he was thoroughly corrupt — was not consistent with previous issues of Justice League Dark. Thankfully this issue came along to explain that the box's effects didn't hit him immediately, but they did start to hurt him later on. It almost feels like J.M. DeMatteis stepped up to cover a Geoff Johns lapse. But regardless of who's idea it was, I was happy it happened.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. We only get a partial image of him in one flashback panel. I understand this isn't a regular Flash book, and they needed to start setting up things for the big Blight crossover, but for the purposes of this blog, I need to see more Flash. But overall, this was a nice issue focusing on John Constantine and the effects of the Trinity War. I also don't know anything about Nightmare Nurse, but a handy editor's note gave me some issues I can read to learn more about her. This issue really had all the elements I look for in a good comic book — just not enough Flash.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next time: Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #2