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, and 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 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