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?

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