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.

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