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

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