Monday, September 21, 2015

Justice League #40


Darkseid War Prologue

Geoff Johns Writer
Kevin Maguire Artist, pages 1-9
Phil Jimenez Artist, pages 10-11
Dan Jurgens Penciller, pages 12-13
Jerry Ordway Pencils and inks, pages 12-13
Scott Kolins Pencils and inks, pages 12-13
Jason Fabok Artist, pages 14-15
Jim Lee Penciller, pages 16-22
Scott Williams Inker, pages 16-22
Brad Anderson Colorist, pages 1-15
Alex Sinclair Colorist, pages 16-22
Rob Leigh Letterer
Jason Fabok & Brad Anderson Cover
Emanuela Lupacchino Movie Poster Variant Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.
The New Gods created by Jack Kirby.

So here it is. What I consider to be the formal sendoff of the New 52. And it all starts with a pretty cool cover that is half Darkseid/half Anti-Monitor. The only complaint I have is that the left side is not immediately obvious that it's the Anti-Monitor. You just kind of half to know it's him. We did see the New 52 version of the Anti-Monitor very briefly at the end of Forever Evil, but that's not really going to help people identify him here.



My local comic shop gave me the movie variant, which is based off Magic Mike. I've never seen the film, but I heard it's about male strippers, which makes this cover a little awkward for me. I guess it's a good adaptation, but the idea of the Justice League men stripping is just ... uncomfortable.

Our story begins with Metron the new god waxing poetically about the nature of the universe. He comes to Earth and witnesses a man attempt to become a superhero. The man's name is Wilson Morgan, and two weeks ago, he became one of the few individuals from the Amazo Virus crisis to retain his powers. Wilson tries to use his electrical abilities to save his neighbor's daughter, but he was promptly gunned down by the kidnappers.

Metron's occupation is to observe and watch everything, but never interfere. However, he has interfered several times, including once, years ago, to forge a treaty between New Genesis and Apokolips. Metron suggested Darkseid and Highfather exchange sons — Orion and Scot (who would become Mr. Miracle).

Metron's memories take him to the first time he saw reality truly threatened. The Anti-Monitor nearly destroyed everything, but was stopped in the event called Crisis on Infinite Earths (during which the original Barry Allen sacrificed himself to save the day). The next big threat was called Zero Hour, caused by Hal Jordan possessed by Parallax. The next event, Infinite Crisis, brought back the multiverse, thanks to alternate versions of Superboy and Lex Luthor. And most recently, reality was remade during Flashpoint, which was caused when Barry Allen attempted to travel back in time and prevent Eobard Thawne from killing his mother. The result of that adventure created the New 52.


Metron ends his trip down memory lane and visits the Anti-Monitor on Earth 3, from which the Crime Syndicate escaped. Metron reveals that the Anti-Monitor's real name is Mobius, and he once sat on the all-powerful chair that Metron now controls. Metron begs Mobius to reconsider his latest plans to destroy the universe, saying reality can't survive another crisis. Metron says as they speak, Brainiac is preparing a Convergence of timelines.

Mobius doesn't care, saying he's only interested in being restored to what he once was, and he knows Metron lacks the power to make that possible. Metron warns Mobius that the wrath of Darkseid will befall him. But Mobius likes that idea, saying the death of Darkseid is the key to it all. Metron is then suddenly attacked from behind by a woman who vows to help Mobius kill her father, Darkseid.

The Good:

Fun overview of the crises. This issue tried to do quite bit. It wanted to follow up on a dangling thread from the Amazo Virus, set things up for the Darkseid War, and, more immediately, Convergence. And on a whole, the issue did a fairly decent job juggling all these tasks. The highlight for me was the brief, yet sufficient look at the previous major reality-altering events. This was one instance where a large cast of artists was used effectively. Each event dealt with a different reality, justifying the different artistic styles for each one. And the artists who worked on this issue are some of the biggest names at DC, delivering quality work as always.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. Scott Kolins did feature the Flash prominently in the Flashpoint segment, awkwardly butting heads with Reverse-Flash. And Jim Lee did sneak Flash into the background of the Darkseid Invasion. But that was all the Flash we saw in this issue. I don't blame this issue for not including more Flash — that's not the story it's telling — but it is worth noting that Grant Morrison's Multiversity had a similar recap of the crises, and said the Flash was "always there at the electric heart of every momentous transformation." As much as I loved Multiversity, I will not review it on this blog, as it was not part of The New 52.

Final score: 5 out of 10

After this issue, DC dropped that "The New 52!" logo from all their books and launched the Convergence miniseries, which led directly into Divergence. Very little changed, as far as I can tell, with the exception of DC feeling more free to print wild and goofy titles such as Bat-Mite and Bizarro. Instead of attempting to keep 52 titles in the mainstream continuity, DC has slashed that number down to 24 (and maybe even less than that by now). But these changes are big enough for me to finally, fully justify closing this blog once and for all. Of course, my decision is influenced greatly by my extreme dissatisfaction with the current creative team on The Flash.

This isn't goodbye forever. I still hope to do a complete, final reading order and possibly some profile pages and/or timelines. For what it's worth, of the 159 issues I reviewed on this blog, the average score is 5.15, which I think is right about where it should be. I gave seven issues a perfect score of 10 out of 10 (The Flash #0, 7, 9, 12, 17, 23 and 24). Only one issue got a zero, DC Universe Presents #0. The worst score for an issue of The Flash was #40, which earned one point.

So, anyway, hopefully I'll see you again some time! In the meantime, I encourage you to check out my other blog based on a speedster, BartAllenImpulse.blogspot.com.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Futures End #48


Writers
• Brian Azzarello
• Jeff Lemire
• Dan Jurgens
• Keith Giffen
Pencillers
• Allan Goldman
• Freddie Williams II
• Andy MacDonald
• Stephen Thompson
Inkers
• Scott Hanna
• Freddie Williams II
•Andy MacDonald
• Stephen Thompson
Colors
• Hi-Fi
Letters
• Tom Napolitano
Covers
• Ryan Sook
Assistant Editor
• David Piña
Editor
• Joey Cavalieri
Group Editor
• Matt Idelson
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

The final cover for this series is the most haunting. Brother Eye's red logo glows ominously in the darkness, implying that the most powerful villain of this yearlong story remains triumphant at the end. And as we'll see, that is exactly what happens.

For the first time in this series, I feel like I've missed something significant by skipping a few issues. To recap, this story began approximately in the year 2047 (according to my timeline), with Brother Eye controlling the world and wiping out the last few remaining heroes one by one. Batman sent his latest protégé, Terry McGinnis, back in time to prevent Brother Eye from ever being activated. But Terry only went 30 years back instead of the necessary 35 years. We didn't see much of Terry in our cursory glance through this series, but in issue #44, we did see him team up with Tim Drake, the former Robin. So apparently, Terry and Tim thought they destroyed Brother Eye, and something happened that required Tim to put on Terry's suit and travel to Terry's time of 2047. And that is where our story begins.

Tim finds himself in a beautiful garden, decorated with giant statues of all of Earth's major superheroes, including the Flash. But Tim quickly learns that he's in a hologram created by Mr. Terrific. Somehow, Tim and Terry failed, and Brother Eye still controls the world, which is in ruins. And since Brother Eye considers Mr. Terrific his father, he has not assimilated him, but keeps him imprisoned, constantly looking for his approval. Tim doesn't have long to come to terms with the reality of the situation and his failure in the past before Brother Eye sends some robotic heroes to assimilate him, including the Flash and Captain Cold.


Luckily, Tim and Mr. Terrific are rescued by a group of mystery fighters, led by the Atom. He takes them to some secret underground tunnels to avoid Brother Eye's detection, and Tim learns that one of the fighters is old girlfriend, who's now 30 years older than him. But he still loves her. Atom then gives the worst non-explanation for why the future didn't change: "Drake changed the timeline and altered events around him — but Terrifitech was a constant that survived, protected by the Eye." Tim is shown how Brother Eye has thoroughly and completely won, but he refuses to accept that, and optimistically vows to keep fighting.

The Good:

Hmm ... well ... I guess I'm glad the robot Flash wasn't a stupid spider-thing. But that really is the only positive I can glean from this disappointment of an issue.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. This is a Flash blog, and any issue that reduces the Flash to a statue and an evil robot needs to be docked a point.

Non-ending ending. This is the final issue of a weekly series that lasted an entire year. It seemed like everything was building toward a grand conclusion. But instead, it built toward this strange new reality with Tim Drake as Batman in a horrible dystopian future. DC did launch a new Batman Beyond title after this that takes place in this world, but who would that really appeal to? Fans of Batman Beyond would surely want to see Terry McGinnis, right? And which fans of Tim Drake would want to see an older version of himself flung further in the future? I don't get it.

Nothing matters. The whole conceit of this series presented a concept and a string of stories that simply do not matter. Everything takes place in an alternate future to begin with, meaning that nothing that happened in this series can affect what's happening in the current continuity. And this issue further compounded the problem by showing that no matter what anyone did in any of these issues, Brother Eye still won in the end. And that was the whole point of the series. Who cares that Superman saved New York from Brainiac, or that Martian Manhunter kept Captain Atom imprisoned on Mars? Brother Eye still wins and kills everybody. The only element of this series that was mildly intriguing (from a current continuity standpoint) was the constant references and hints to a big war that happened five years ago. But even this element was weakened by the incredibly vague references to the war, and the constant assertions that what was currently happening was worse than anything they saw during the war. So you're not going to tell me anything about this war, except for the fact that Brainiac lifting New York into the sky was worse than that war. Why should I get excited for it?

Final score: 2 out of 10

Next time will be my final review on this blog. I will cover what I consider to be the official sendoff of The New 52, Justice League #40.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Futures End #44


Writers
• Brian Azzarello
• Jeff Lemire
• Dan Jurgens
• Keith Giffen
Artists
• Patrick Zircher
• Andy MacDonald
Colors
• Hi-Fi
Letters
• Corey Breen
Cover
• Ryan Sook
Assistant Editor
• David Piña
Editor
• Joey Cavalieri
Group Editor
• Matt Idelson
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

Once again, we get another stellar cover by Sook. Superman is holding New York City on his shoulders, which is exactly what happens in this issue. I love the colors and the emotion. Say what you want to about Futures End, but at least it had good covers.

Even though we skipped a few issues, it doesn't seem like we missed much. Brainiac is still lifting New York high into the sky, and the entire Justice League is trying to stop him. Well, actually most of the heroes are trying to protect people from collapsing buildings, which is all the Flash does in this issue.


And that's all we see of him in this issue. So here are the rest of the highlights: Terry McGinnis, the Batman from the future, teams up with Tim Drake, the former Robin. But Terry was actually too late to stop Brother Eye, since Batman, Mr. Terrific and the Atom activated the unbelievably super-powerful computer to take down Brainiac's defenses. Atom then shrinks down Brainiac and imprisons him in a small ball, while Superman catches the falling city.

The Good:

Well, I guess it was nice to see how and why Brother Eye was activated. Superman catching the city was interesting and exciting, but not particularly original. And the fight with Brainiac could have been a lot better if more heroes were involved. There were a whole bunch of them here, but just like the Flash, all they did was protect random citizens from falling debris.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. Futures End was a weekly series written and drawn by a committee. From issue to issue, you never knew how the art was going to be, or who the story would focus on. But there were two things you could always count on: A solid cover by Ryan Sook, and the Flash to be undervalued. At least we didn't see Flash get his butt kicked by some random villain this time, but all we saw him do was save one guy out of a falling building. There is so much more he can do, but none of these writers were interested in exploring that.

Redundant action. When the New 52 started, Grant Morrison took over Action Comics, which featured an early version of Superman wearing jeans and a T-shirt. His first major adventure was saving Metropolis from Brainiac. This issue presented the exact same scenario, and nobody mentioned it. There was a lot of references to Superman's role in the unseen war five years ago, but not a single person remembered Superman and Brainiac doing the exact. Same. Thing. Eleven years ago. If you're going to repeat the past (that's in the same continuity), then you should at least mention it.

Final score: 3 out of 10

Next time, we'll wrap up this futuristic nonsense with Futures End #48.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Futures End #40


Writers
• Brian Azzarello
• Jeff Lemire
• Dan Jurgens
• Keith Giffen
Artist
• Patrick Zircher
Colors
• Hi-Fi
Letters
• Corey Breen
Cover
• Ryan Sook
Assistant Editor
• David Piña
Editor
• Joey Cavalieri
Group Editor
• Matt Idelson
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

One of the few positives for this Futures End series has been the Ryan Sook covers. I think all of them have been pretty solid and detailed. This issue's cover shows a gigantic Brainiac robot wreaking havoc, and it looks really good. That's about all I can say about it. It looks good, so let's get on with the story and find out what's happening.

As with all these issues, there's a lot going on that doesn't involve the Flash, so I'll just skip ahead to the small parts that do include him. We're 22,300 miles above Earth, and Flash has been summoned to a Justice League meeting. Cyborg and Wonder Woman are the only other founding members present — the rest are a bunch of randoms we don't care about. Cyborg reports that their deep space monitor system is going nuts, but he can't find anything out of the ordinary. This makes Flash complain about going to all the trouble of teleporting up there for a false alarm.


Before too long, the Justice League encounter the remaining members of Stormwatch — the Atom, Hawkman, and a robot named Engineer. Flash asks Ray Palmer if he triggered their alert, but Atom says it was Brainiac. The Atom tries to explain more about Brainiac, but Engineer becomes possessed and attacks her teammates. She delivers an ominous message to the Justice League: "He is here, and you will be the first witnesses to his coming ..."

Strange objects start raining on New York City, causing widespread destruction and pandemonium. Engineer leaves the Stormwatch ship to join her new master, and the Justice League saves Atom and Hawkman. Wonder Woman alerts Cyborg to the destruction in Manhattan, and he sends her and Flash down to deal with it. The masked Superman (who's really Captain Marvel in disguise) also wants to go to New York, but Cyborg tells him and the new female Firestorm to stay behind and guard Dr. Polaris. Cyborg then takes Hawkman and Atom out to chase after Engineer and try to stop Brainiac up in space.

From the satellite, Firestorm can see that Brainiac is literally trying to cut Manhattan off from the rest of the world. A large force field envelopes the whole city, and Brainiac's spheres form the giant robot we saw on the cover. Meanwhile, the real Superman is flying in to save the day.

The Good:

Well, I guess it's nice to have something big happening. Of course, Brainiac trying to steal a city is nothing original. We've already seen him do it once before in the New 52 (during Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics). And since I have read so few of these issues, there's a lot of stuff here that means nothing to me.

The Bad:

Rather petty Flash. Oh, poor Flash! You had to teleport all the way up to the Watchtower! Geez. I really hate this watered-down version of the Flash. All he did in this issue was complain and ask one question. He was sent to New York to battle Brainiac, but we didn't get to see any of that. Also, how on Earth is Cyborg giving orders to Flash and Wonder Woman?

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time, we'll skip ahead to Futures End #44.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Justice League: Futures End #1


Home World: Part 2 of 2

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jed Dougherty
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Cover: Mike McKone with Eltaeb
Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

Continuing our 3-D cover series, or rather concluding it, is an image of the Justice League of the future, contrasted with the Justice League of the present.


I find it interesting that Cyborg and the Flash are the only two constants. It makes me happy to see Flash having the integrity and loyalty to keep working with the League, even though most of the original members have been replaced by completely worthless nobodies. And I'm serious about that nobody part. If you don't recognize those guys on the cover, don't worry about it. They don't matter.

Our story picks right up where we left off with the prison revolt on Mars. Mongul has the Flash in his clutches, and Captain Atom has been revealed as the mastermind behind this attempted escape.


The heroes tell Captain Atom he can't leave, because he apparently killed millions of people two years. Atom tries to explain that he only did that to save billions of lives, but they don't care. Gorilla Grodd, who has telepathically subdued Martian Manhunter, reminds Captain Atom that their deal was to free all the villains. So Captain Atom breaks out of the prison by simply growing to a hundred feet tall and smashing out of the building.

Seeing Captain Atom out in the open, Mongul tells him that he's changed his mind. Mongul intends to be the only prisoner to escape. And why shouldn't he be so bold? He just single-handedly wasted the Justice League. Captain Atom does not take this betrayal lightly, and he blasts Mongul, possibly killing him. Flash asks Cyborg what they should do, and Cyborg says they keep fighting, no matter what.

Cyborg tries to reason with Captain Atom ... while also blasting him in the chest. Flash says Captain Atom may be beyond reason, and he somehow runs up Captain Atom's body to try to punch him in the chin. But Captain Atom mocks Flash, telling him he's out of his depth, and bends space and time on a quantum level to grasp Flash in his hand before he even moves. Atom then constantly manipulates the Speed Force molecules around Flash to paralyze him. Captain Atom continues to easily fight off the Justice League, all while demanding to have the force field surrounding Mars be lowered.

Back inside the prison, the other heroes ask Grodd how he could team up with Captain Atom. Grodd says it was a better alternative to being abandoned on Mars and mentally controlled by Martian Manhunter, which, according to him, was a fate worse than death. But after years of persistence, Grodd was finally able to break the Manhunter's control. But as Grodd fights these random heroes, the inexplicably powerful Equinox manages to freeze Grodd's head (possibly killing him?). With Grodd out of the picture, Martian Manhunter is able to slowly regain his senses.

Above, the fight continues, and Captain Atom is joined by even more prisoners. Flash takes on Count Vertigo, and is soundly defeated. One of the random heroes, Vostok, points out to Cyborg that Flash needs assistance, and Flash says, "I think I'm going to speed hurl." So Cyborg blasts Vertigo to save the fastest, yet suddenly weakest, man in the world.

Seeing that all his allies have fallen, including Grodd, Captain Atom decides on another tactic. He announced he will self-destruct, destroying Mars and everyone on it in order to destroy the force field. Atom doesn't fear death, since he knows his atoms will eventually find one another. But before Captain Atom can blow himself up, Martian Manhunter regains control of the situation. For some reason, he disguised himself as Equinox (to apparently distract Captain Atom), and then he places the former hero in a telepathic illusion of his childhood home in Clyde, Maine, where Captain Atom is human again.

With Captain Atom in a blissful trance, he returns to his normal size. Cyborg points out the destroyed prison, but Martian Manhunter says it can be rebuilt. Equinox suggests Martian Manhunter come home with them, but he says he is home, and the prisoners need him.

The Good:

I liked the idea of this prison, how the revolt came to be, and Captain Atom's role in it. But nothing was developed enough for me. As soon as the story got going, it ended. And each confrontation was very one-sided, making all the fighting extremely brief. This two-part story was really too big for just two parts. To fully explore the intricacies between Martian Manhunter, Gorilla Grodd and Captain Atom, this story really could have used five or six issues.

The Bad:

Pathetic Flash. This is the weakest, most worthless version of the Flash I have ever scene. In this issue, he is soundly, and immediately defeated by three separate villains. He does nothing of value or creative with his powers, doesn't say anything significant, and ultimately only serves a hindrance to the Justice League. He drops some stupid, out-of-place lines, and constantly looks to Cyborg for advice. Are we sure this is the same Barry Allen who's been operating as the Flash for the past 11 years? Because this worthless little loser sure feels like a rookie superhero wannabe.

Troubling Grodd. Have you ever read a comic that included Batman and Scarecrow, but the two of them never appear on the same page or even acknowledge each other? Of course you haven't! So why did that just happen to Flash and Grodd? If you're going to go to all the trouble of bringing Flash to Mars to stop a revolt largely orchestrated by Grodd, then you had better make sure we at least get a brief interaction between these two rivals. Omitting this confrontation is simply unacceptable. As for the other aspects of Grodd in this issue, I'm kind of torn on. And I think the biggest problem results from the uncertainty of Grodd's powers in the New 52. Does he or does he not have super speed? It depends on who's writing the story and what they want Grodd to do. The incredible inconsistency of the character is troubling, especially since he's one of the Flash's main villains.

Frustrating format. When I took my sabbatical from The Flash, I added Justice League to my pull list to keep an eye on the New 52. This issue interrupted an already delayed and slow-moving story about Lex Luthor joining the Justice League. So instead of getting something about Luthor, Captain Cold and Shazam, I got this completely random story from five years in the future that only includes Cyborg and Flash. And to make matters worse, this was the second part of a two-part story, but nowhere in this issue does it tell me where to find the first part. A simple, small editor's note would have helped tremendously. And although there are some interesting ideas being tossed around in this Futures End storyline, I don't care too much about what happens since it's all taking place in an alternate future. And I especially don't like having this alternate future storyline interrupting the current narrative.

Final score: 2 out of 10

Next time, we'll jump ahead toward the end of this storyline with Futures End #40.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Justice League United: Futures End #1


Home World: Part 1 of 2

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jed Dougherty
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Cover: Mike McKone with Eltaeb
Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Supergirl based on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

In September 2014, all New 52 titles took a break from their regular stories to jump ahead five years in the future. All these Futures End tie-ins also came with 3-D covers that were actually a nice improvement over the 3-D covers of 2013. Of course, the digital version of these comics only give you the "future" version of each cover, but in this case, I have the physical copy and can show you the "present" version of the cover.


The effect is pretty cool, but you have to carefully, painstakingly tilt the comic at just the right degree to fully appreciate each separate image. Most of the time, you get both images at the same time, messily bleeding over each other.

The Flash plays a rather small role in this issue, so let's skip ahead to the part where he does show up, at the Fortress of Justice in New Mexico (kind of a weird place for Earth-based headquarters, but whatever). Cyborg has hastily summoned a meeting, but Flash is the only original Justice League member to show up — Wonder Woman and Superman are apparently busy elsewhere. Cyborg summoned the meeting because Equinox, the woman who's front and center in both covers, has received a telepathic distress call from Martian Manhunter at the Mars-based super-villain prison. Cyborg's tried to contact the prison, but to no avail.

One of the new members of the League is quite upset to learn about this secret prison on Mars. Flash explains that it was Martian Manhunter's idea after a particularly bad Despero attack in New York. Cyborg elaborates that Mars is abandoned, and the Justice League teamed up with Terrifitech, the Queen Foundation and S.H.A.D.E. to construct the facility, which was built with state-of-the art technology, plus is protected by a powerful force field that covers the entire planet of Mars. But the biggest security measure is the prison's warden, Martian Manhunter himself, who is telepathically keeping all the prisoners docile.

There is the smallest amount of outrage at the revelation of this unethical behavior, but everyone is mostly worried about what they should do about Martian Manhunter's distress call. Flash says Cyborg is the leader and he should make the call. Cyborg points out that none of the prison's alarms have been triggered, but the lack of response from J'onn J'onzz is enough of a reason for the team to take a trip to Mars. So they load up the Justice League battlecruiser and take the short journey to the red planet.

Flash brings up Green Arrow's recent funeral, and one of the new heroes complains about Batman's absence. Flash angrily says that Batman has his reasons for staying quiet and they should all respect that. The suddenly awkward conversation mercifully comes to an end when the spaceship arrives at Mars. After punching in the codes to pass through the force field, Cyborg lands the craft about a mile away from the gulag. Flash conducts a high-speed loop of the perimeter, and reports that it's all quiet. Cyborg actually answers with "Too quiet."

Equinox then gets another telepathic message from J'onn. He says he's being blocked by a powerful telepath, but before he can say who the leader of the prison revolt is, the link is broken. Our heroes then arrive at the front door of the prison, where they're met by Killer Frost, Mongul, Blockbuster and Mechaneer. Cyborg orders them to protect the ship, since it's the only thing that can pass through the planet's force field.


Flash takes on Mongul, but is actually caught by the super villain in a chokehold. Equinox, meanwhile, actually freezes Killer Frost, because her powers apparently are based on the current climate of Canada, which conveniently happens to be winter right now. Equinox gets inside the prison and finds Martian Manhunter, who is chained at the feet of Gorilla Grodd. J'onn tells Equinox she was tricked to come here, and Grodd reveals that the leader of the revolt is the worst killer the universe has ever known, Captain Atom.

The Good:

There are some interesting concepts here, notably the idea of a super-villain prison on Mars and Captain Atom being its top prisoner. But there wasn't enough time to fully explore these ideas. Captain Atom will obviously come into play in part two, but in this issue, I really would have liked a more thorough discussion on the ethics of such a prison existing.

The Bad:

Weakened Flash. We see these too often with the Flash in a group setting. It seems like the writer isn't sure what to do with him, so he relegates the Flash to the background and severely weakens him. The Flash just ran circles around Mongul, which did nothing, then he was promptly caught by him. How? I'm not really sure what the New 52 Mongul can do, but it feels like a bit of a stretch to have him handle the Flash so easily. I also wasn't thrilled with how Flash referred to Cyborg as the leader of the Justice League, mainly because that never came across as being the case in the other Futures End titles. If anything, Flash and Cyborg should have been co-leaders on this mission, since they were the only original members present.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time, we conclude this story in Justice League: Futures End #1.

Futures End #11


Writers
• Brian Azzarello
• Jeff Lemire
• Dan Jurgens
• Keith Giffen
Penciller
• Georges Jeanty
Inker
• Cam Smith
Colors
• Hi-Fi
Letters
• Taylor Esposito
Cover
• Ryan Sook
Assistant Editor
• Kyle Andrukiewicz
Editor
• Joey Cavalieri
Group Editor
• Matt Idelson
Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

Our cover is sort of a continuation of issue #2. Firestorm is now broken up into Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch, and Arsenal is still furious with Ronnie. The Justice League disapprovingly glowers in the background, but once again refuses to really do anything. I think I would like this cover a lot more if the League were all in the same proportion. It's rather odd, and almost alarming, to have the Flash be so randomly big.

This issue actually begins with a bunch of side stories that have nothing to do with the Flash, and of which I know nothing about. So we'll skip to the very end to the small part that does involve Flash.

We begin 22,3000 miles above Earth, at the Justice League Defense Station Omega (they've apparently expanded their satellite presence in the past five years). Ronnie Raymond, who was out drinking and making merry at a strip club, is suddenly teleported to the satellite. The entire Justice League is there, holding a full-blown intervention for the troublesome half of Firestorm. The heroes have even carefully rehearsed their lines.


Flash makes the point that the powerful Firestorm has the responsibility to step up. But Ronnie ignores the scripted speech, and blames Jason for organizing the intervention. But Jason says this wasn't his idea, and he doesn't want to merge with Ronnie to become Firestorm ever again. Wonder Woman urges them to reconsider, but Ronnie is still mad at Jason. Jason tells him that he hasn't told the League anything Ronnie has done.

Arsenal, who has replaced Green Arrow on the team, believes Jason is referring to Firestorm not saving Oliver Queen, and he demands an elaboration. Jason refuses to talk, telling Arsenal to ask Ronnie, which he does quite angrily. Flash reminds them all that they're trying to help bring Firestorm back. Cyborg then very randomly suggests they bring in Zatanna to mind-wipe him, a suggestion Flash immediately shuts down.

Finally, at Aquaman and Superman's urging, Ronnie tells the truth about the night Green Arrow died. Ronnie admits he ignored Jason's calls because he was busy with a girl, but he is quick to add that he "never signed up for a life of 24/7 sacrifice." He also references the great, unseen war, in which he wanted to save Pittsburgh, but was told to focus on Washington and New York instead. Ronnie then refuses all additional offers to talk, and he angrily teleports away, proclaiming that Firestorm is finished forever. Jason follows behind him, telling the League to find a replacement for them.

The Good:

The Flash was more or less back in his peace-keeping role, but this story was way too short to really appreciate this. As it stands, he just stands around and delivers three or four lines in an issue that has very little to do with him.

The Bad:

Out-of-place mind-wipe reference. I don't even know who Cyborg was referring to (Ronnie or Jason), let alone why he would jump to such a strong conclusion so quickly. This is obviously a reference to the powerful, yet controversial Identity Crisis. I loved that story, but the mind wiping did not occur without demanding provocation or without harrowing consequences. It is a dishonor to that masterpiece to refer to it so flippantly

Frustrating format. This series was written by four different people, each essentially telling a separate, disjointed story. They all share the same universe of this future timeline, and they do occasionally intersect. The problem I have, is that I don't care about three of these stories. But one of them (I'm not sure who's writing it) did catch my attention. I have enjoyed these moments with Firestorm and the Justice League. I just wish I didn't have to suffer through all that offer stuff to get to the parts I want. Rather than cramming everything together in one weekly title, DC should have created four monthly titles for the Futures End event — each with its own writer, artist, and set of characters. These separate titles could have had staggered release dates, so it was essentially a weekly, but would give the readers more flexibility in following the story. Those who wanted the weekly experience would still get that at the same price, but a whole new door would be opened up to people like me who only wanted a fourth or half of the story. By taking this all-or-nothing approach, I think DC scared away many potential readers, and shot themselves in the foot, sales-wise.

Final score: 3 out of 10

Next time, we'll check out a couple of the September event books that loosely tie in to the Futures End story, beginning with Justice League United: Futures End #1.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Futures End #2


Writers
• Brian Azzarello
• Jeff Lemire
• Dan Jurgens
• Keith Giffen
Penciller
• Jesús Merino
Inker
• Dan Green
Art Consultant
• Keith Giffen
Colors
• Hi-Fi
Letters
• Carlos Mangual
Cover
• Ryan Sook
Assistant Editor
• Kyle Andrukiewicz
Editor
• Joey Cavalieri
Group Editor
• Matt Idelson
Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

Our cover shows one of Green Arrow's arrowheads shaped like a skull. In the blood spatters around it are the images of various members of the Justice League. I think the Flash is on the inside edge of the left splat. I actually really like this cover. It's simple and effective, portraying the death of Green Arrow in a rather unique way. Of course, the idea of Green Arrow being killed is not at all unique, but that's hardly this cover's fault.

Our story begins with Firestorm heading toward Green Arrow's funeral. Apparently Firestorm could have saved Green Arrow, but one half of the hero, Ronnie Raymond, was busy with one of his "conquests," as the other half, Jason Rusch calls it. Jason, who's just a voice in Ronnie's head when they're Firestorm, blames Ronnie for Green Arrow's death, and Ronnie doesn't want to talk about it.

Some things never change in the DC Universe, and even in the far future of five years from now, all funerals are held in the rain. It is a very strict law. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they waited to hold the funeral until it was a rainy day. All joking aside, the ceremony is a highly publicized event, held out in the middle of the city. All the major news outlets are covering the funeral, which is attended by every superhero imaginable. It seems like only one hero speaks, though, and that is Animal Man, who mentions a recent war that somehow brought the people of Earth 2 to Earth 1. After his speech, Green Arrow's casket is loaded into the hearse. The TV broadcast names Flash as one of the pallbearers, although the art doesn't show it. There is one hero in the back we can barely see, but his costume definitely isn't red. It actually kind of looks like Aquaman. The confirmed pallbearers are Animal Man, Arsenal, Adam Strange, Diggle and Firestorm.

Once the casket is loaded, Arsenal can't contain his rage anymore and confronts Firestorm. Arsenal shares Jason's belief that Firestorm let Green Arrow die, and he says as much in a very forceful way. Jason tries to warn Ronnie not to cause a scene, but Ronnie can't help himself. He tells Arsenal that he was busy with another emergency and he rushed to Green Arrow's side as fast as he can, which Jason knows to be a lie. The Flash, who would normally be a peacekeeper in such a situation, surprisingly calls Firestorm out on his lie, saying all the JLA tracking data, general news accounts and records of Firestorm's power signature confirm that Ronnie and Jason didn't merge until long after Green Arrows distress call went out.


Firestorm is furious that the Justice League is spying on him. But perhaps intimidated by the Flash, Firestorm directs his anger back toward Arsenal. Their argument continues to escalate, but all the other heroes around them are hesitant to intervene with all the cameras watching. Finally, Arsenal punches Firestorm in the face, who responds by punching him back. Jason begs Ronnie to release him so he can explain and apologize, but Ronnie refuses. Luckily, before Firestorm can do anything else, he's stopped by a masked Superman. So Firestorm angrily flies away into the rain, leaving all the viewers at home shocked by the behavior of the world's most powerful heroes.

And of course there are a handful of subplots going on, but none of them involve the Flash, so we'll end things here for now.

The Good:

I really don't know what to make of the Flash' brief appearance in this issue. It's hard to get a read on a guy who only has one line of dialogue. I think Barry could have and should have handled this situation better, but I guess he was pretty emotional after the death of Green Arrow. However, in the New 52, the Flash has had virtually nothing to do with the Green Arrow. I suspect any implication of the Flash's deep friendship with Oliver Queen in this issue has more to do with the CW TV series than anything we've seen in the comics. Of course, it is highly possible to pretend that Barry and Oliver became great buddies during the five-year span from "now" to when this story takes place. So, ultimately, I remain quite neutral on this whole ordeal. More Flash would have been better (as always), but score-wise, I'll just leave this right in the middle.

The Bad:

Aside from the tired cliché of rain at a funeral, I actually enjoyed the main story of this issue. I don't care that I didn't see how Green Arrow died because the fallout from his death is so interesting. It's very telling how nobody came to Firestorm's defense, and how all the other heroes were so image-conscious that they only put forward a minimal effort toward intervening when absolutely necessary. It actually is an intriguing notion. Unfortunately, it is weakened by the multitude of subplots (just in this issue), and the knowledge of how this weekly series will progress. Yes, we did have just one penciller for this issue, but it'll be someone else for the next issue, and someone else for the one after that. And although one writer was a bit more dominant on this issue, someone else will take the reins later on. In all, it's a very frustrating experience.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time, we'll jump ahead a few weeks to Futures End #11.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Futures End #0


Writers
• Brian Azzarello
• Jeff Lemire
• Dan Jurgens
• Keith Giffen
Artists
• Ethan Van Sciver
• Patrick Zircher
• Aaron Lopresti & Art Thibert
• Dan Jurgens & Mark Irwin
• Jesus Merino & Dan Green
Art Consultant
• Keith Giffen
Colors
• Hi-Fi
Letters
• Carlos Mangual
Cover
• Ryan Sook
Assistant Editor
• Kyle Andrukiewicz
Editor
• Joey Cavalieri
Group Editor
• Matt Idelson
Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

This is what happens when you make a weekly comic — it has to be done by committee. I'm a firm believer that the fewer people working on a comic, the more cohesive the story can be. So we could be in for a pretty rough ride over the next handful of issues. Or maybe not. We'll see.

Futures End made its debut on Free Comic Book Day 2014, which explains why the cover has a huge white chunk in the bottom left corner. Actually, that doesn't explain anything. I have the digital version of this comic, so that big white space is completely useless. Whatever. The cover shows the Batman from the old Batman Beyond cartoon looming sinisterly over some grotesque versions of the Justice League, including the Flash, who doesn't seem to have a shred of humanity left on him. And the evil behind all this is apparently the most powerful villain ever, the sentient satellite Brother Eye.

Our story begins in Central City, 35 years from now. Captain Cold, who hasn't died of cancer in this timeline, is hiding out in one of the last havens of humanity. Cold convinces his companions to keep the door open just a little longer so the Flash can return from his reconnaissance mission. Right on cue, Flash arrives, still wearing his classic red suit and sporting a big white beard. The exhausted Barry says he's been running all night, but couldn't find any other survivors. The door suddenly caves in, showing that Flash was followed back to the hideout. Leading the attack are hideous spider-robot versions of Wonder Woman and Hawk, followed by thousands of small robot spiders.


Flash destroys the Hawk spider-robot, but Wonder Woman slices off Cold's hands. The wounds are sealed by invasive nanobots that take control of Leonard Snart and assimilate him into Brother Eye. Flash retaliates by destroying the Wonder Woman monstrosity, but now he's too tired to defend himself from the next wave of robots. Frankenstein, who has not been assimilated, leads this group, and he says that since the Flash was once his friend, he'll offer him the chance to join Brother Eye willingly or be destroyed. Flash refuses, so Frankenstein opens up his shirt to reveal he's grafted Black Canary's head onto his chest, and he uses her Canary Cry to vaporize Flash.

And that's the end of the Flash in this issue. Most of what follows next is more overly violent deaths of various heroes at the hands of more grotesque robot-spider versions of other heroes. The only part that really matters is a dying Bruce Wayne sending his protégé Terry McGinnis back in time to prevent Brother Eye from taking over the world. Unfortunately, Terry only goes back 30 years instead of the necessary 35. So he ends up five years from "now," which I say puts him at 2017.

Now, there are a lot of inconsistencies with this future and what we saw in The Flash because nobody at DC talks to each other. But I think I can make sense of it. Following my last post about the alternate timelines, I'm going to say this story takes place in the year 2047 of the new Timeline C. After seeing the crazy version of his future self, Flash decided to keep his iconic red costume throughout his career. And perhaps he was able to help Captain Cold beat cancer because he wasn't going crazy and constantly losing time due to the fractured Speed Force. I'm not sure how Captain Cold got his powers back, but perhaps he felt he needed them to combat Brother Eye. At the end, when Terry travels back in time, he creates a new Timeline D. I know I'm making up a lot of stuff, but it's the only way I can make it work in my head.

The Good:

The Flash. Yeah, his beard did make him look like Santa Claus, but I liked seeing that the Flash was one of the last heroes to survive. And even though he was exhausted, it was nice to see he still could kill Hawk and Wonder Woman (even without the Brother Eye assimilation, I still think Flash could beat Wonder Woman). Working with Captain Cold up to the end was another nice touch, although I'm not sure why Flash wasn't also working with Batman and the other straggling survivors. And it almost feels sacrilegious to have the Flash in a story with time travel, but not have Flash at least involved in that time travel aspect in some way. But this isn't Barry's story — it's Terry's.

The Bad:

Too gruesome. This comic went out of its way to be as shocking and grotesque as possible. Perhaps DC showed a little bit of restraint for this free issue, but I don't think they restrained themselves enough. This comic was handed out to children, and it showed limbs being cut off, heads grafted onto torsos, spines being pulled out of bodies, and more. That is not acceptable for all audiences. This book did receive some backlash, but not enough in my opinion. I'd still be disgusted if this was just a regular $2.99 issue, but I'm much more upset because it was DC's lone offering to Free Comic Day — a happy event intended to celebrate comics and introduce them to a younger audience.

Brother Eye. This vague villain is far too powerful and illogical. How on Earth did he assimilate Superman and Wonder Woman? And when he assimilates people, why does he transform them into spider robots? How is that more efficient or powerful? Wonder Woman is severely weakened when you cut off her arms and replace her legs with a large, awkward spider butt. It's more work than it's worth. And why didn't Brother Eye assimilate Frankenstein? Even if he did willingly join, wouldn't it fall under Brother Eye's motivation to convert all flesh into robotics? And what's the point of saying "Eye" instead of "I"? They sound exactly the same. The only way we know there's a difference is because we're reading speech bubbles in a comic.

Too many cooks in the kitchen. Four writers and five pencilers is a recipe for disaster. Well, disaster might be too strong a word, but it certainly creates disjointed storytelling. Each shift in art and writing is jarring to an extent. Some transitions work better than others, but at the end of the day, you still feel like you're reading several different stories stitched together rather than one cohesive narrative. Perhaps there are good "comics by committee" like this out there, but I have yet to read a satisfying story that follows this format.

Final score: 3 out of 10

The Flash actually plays a rather minor role in this event, so we'll be skipping around quite a bit. Next time: Futures End #2.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Flash Timelines

We've just made it through a bunch of time travel in The Flash, and we're about to embark on some more time travel, so I thought I'd do a quick post explaining all the different timelines we've seen. Analyzing the time travel in the comics can be confusing, because the point of reference is always the ambiguous "now." So I've assigned some arbitrary years to these events, keeping in mind that time moves much slower in comic books than real life. Events such as Gorilla Warfare and Forever Evil took about half a year to come out, but the actual story only lasted a couple of days.

In 2011, Barry Allen learned that Eobard Thawne had traveled back in time and killed his mother. So Barry went back to prevent that horrific event, but accidentally created the bleak world of Flashpoint. He eventually was able to travel back in time again and stop himself from saving his mom, but (with some manipulation by Pandora) Barry didn't return everything completely back to normal, and actually created a new timeline, which coincided with DC's launch of The New 52. We'll call this ...

Timeline A


In Timeline A, Barry Allen became the Flash approximately in the year 2006. He joined the Justice League soon after and helped them repel Darkseid's invasion. In 2011, Flash battled Mob Rule and the newly super-powered Rogues. In 2012, Flash fought off Gorilla Grodd from invading Central City, took on the Reverse-Flash, and was involved in the Trinity War and Forever Evil events.

Using 2012 as our "now," we can say that Wally West was killed in 2017 — an event which slowly began Barry's descent into madness. In 2019, the Trickster accidentally killed a young family and committed suicide. In 2024, Captain Cold died of cancer, and in 2028, Mirror Master accidentally killed 11 people. In 2032, Flash killed Gorilla Grodd and began his trek backward through time. Because he wore a blue suit, I call him Blue to distinguish him from the past, sane versions of the Flash.

Blue's first stop was in 2028, where he prevented Mirror Master from killing 11 people. By doing this, and allowing Sam Scudder to die, Blue created a new timeline. But since we don't see anything result from this new timeline, we'll just call it Timeline A' and move on.


Blue then visited Leonard Snart on his deathbed in 2024, but he didn't change anything, so no new timeline was created. But he did create Timeline A'' when he prevented Trickster from killing a family and convinced Axel Walker to not commit suicide.


Once again, this new timeline is virtually meaningless for our narrative, as we don't see anything post-2019 with a good Trickster. The same applies for the quick series of changes Blue makes after that — stopping the Top from also committing suicide, and rescuing a couple of groups of people.


All in all, Blue created at least five new timelines that we really don't care about. But he did create a new, significant timeline in 2017, when he saved Wally West's life and killed the Reverse-Flash. We'll call this ...

Timeline B


After killing Daniel West, Blue battled the current version of the Flash. The two Barrys created a massive Speed Force-induced explosion, which sent Blue further back in time, killed the current Flash, and gave Wally super speed. Wally spent several years training and studying his powers before mastering time travel and finding the insane Blue in the year 2012, which by this point was now ...

Timeline C


Wally sacrificed himself to save the current Barry's life. But after Wally died, Barry was sucked into the Speed Force, and Blue assumed his identity for a few days. Eventually, Barry escaped the Speed Force, and teamed up with Blue to defeat Selkirk. Blue died in the battle, leaving only the current Flash behind, and bringing everything (more or less) back to normal. It is possible to use one of these time-travel jumps to explain the slight differences between The Flash #0 and Secret Origins #7 ... if you obsess over continuity as much as I do.

So hopefully this didn't make things more confusing. Next time, we'll begin DC's weekly series called Futures End. As the title suggests, it takes place in the future, but (surprise, surprise) it doesn't match up very well with what we saw in The Flash. In Futures End #0, we'll start 35 years from now (2047) in what I believe could be considered a continuation of this new Timeline C. I'll explain more when I review that issue.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Superman #40


Powerless

John Romita Jr.: Writer & Penciller
Klaus Janson: Inker
Dean White: Colorist
Travis Lanham: Letterer
Cover by Romita Jr. & Janson w/White
Jeremy Bent and Andrew Marino: Assistant Editors
Eddie Berganza: Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

Our cover shows Superman demonstrating his new, solar flare power for the Justice League. Naturally, this power was never mentioned in the main Justice League series because Geoff Johns doesn't pay attention to the other books, but that's a different matter altogether. I think this is a pretty good cover that gives us a good idea of what happens inside the issue. I'm not a fan of Romita Jr.'s style, but I kind of prefer to have something unique and stylized over the generic house style we usually see.

Our story begins in the Khentii Mountain, in outer Mongolia, elevation 9,200 feet. What appears to be a volcano erupting is actually Superman testing out his new power, which leaves him exhausted and naked. Before too long, Batman shows up in his Batplane, and actually jokes about picking up naked hitchhikers.

Twenty-four hours later, Superman is fully recharged and is holding a meeting on the Justice League Watchtower. Superman talks about how he's coming to enjoy the sensation of being human after he uses his flare, especially having to eat food like everyone else. But ultimately, he wants the League to help him figure out his new power and learn to control it. Wonder Woman is worried whether this flare is dangerous to Superman, and Aquaman asks if his powers return completely. Flash agrees that these are good questions, and becomes concerned by Superman's uncertainty.


So Cyborg says a test is in order — a test which he has stupidly dubbed JL 1-1A. Exactly 45 minutes later, the League meets in the recreational center of the satellite, where Batman and Cyborg take great pleasure in blasting Superman with rocket launchers at point-blank range. Wonder Woman delivers a mighty blow to her boyfriend's face, and reports that his head is as hard as Themysciran reinforced concrete. Flash is happy to see Superman's back to his invulnerable old self, but now he wants to test his reflexes. Flash pushes a button, which causes a massive weight to instantly slam down over Superman. But the Man of Steel is able to dodge the weight fast enough, and he jokes they should rename the "rec" room the "wreck" room.

Cyborg then says they need to test and measure Superman's solar flare. He's spent the past day preparing the satellite's jet exhaust tunnels to handle the blast, and has reinforced the area with four feet of titanium to protect the Watchtower. Cyborg jokes that maybe Superman's demonstration will solve the energy needs of the entire planet — a joke the Flash calls "hysterical." So Superman strips down to his underwear and enters the tunnels to perform the solar flare once more.

Cyborg's protections mostly hold, although Superman did cause quite a bit of damage. Flash asks where the broom and dustpan are, and Aquaman playfully shields Wonder Woman's eyes from the naked Superman. Although Superman feels like he's gaining better control of the trigger of this new power, he still has a lot of questions. But Batman has the most important question right now: Are you hungry?

Six hours later, the Justice League (in their civilian identities) meet at a tavern on the corner of Grand Avenue and 18th Street in Metropolis. Flash proposes a toast to the world's first controlled and monitored super flatus (a burp or fart), which makes everyone laugh. Cyborg, who has not joined the party, calls up Bruce on his cellphone to report he thinks he's found a way to harness the energy from Superman's flares, although it would be costly. But Bruce tells Vic he'll have to call back later, because Clark is having his first beer and becoming a pretty funny drunk.

Clark makes plans to head to an Italian restaurant after this, then loudly boasts of how he can use his new power to take down "super cosmic baddies." When he realizes he's talking too loud, Clark excitedly whispers about how his power will eventually lead to world peace, while Barry teases him for having the tolerance of a flea.

And that's the end of the Flash's role in this issue. Clark wakes up hungover the next morning, and rushes off into a minor battle as Superman, forgetting his powers haven't returned yet. He eventually does save the day, but he takes a big cut to his head, which is captured by civilians' cellphones and soon shown around the world. And when Clark shows up to work with a bandage over the same spot as Superman's wound, Lois Lane takes notice and becomes suspicious.

The Good:

This was an unusually light and funny issue — a rarity in the New 52. Issues like these were so rare, in fact, that once DC dropped the New 52 tag, they brought in a bunch of out-of-continuity titles with a very goofy and comical tone. Perhaps DC wouldn't have need to do that had the New 52 included more issues like this. Moments with the Justice League just hanging out, playing video games, teasing each other, and going to bars. You don't have to be 100 percent serious all the time, nor do you have to be 100 percent goofy all the time. And I think this issue does a pretty good job of having fun in the beginning and ending on a rather serious note.

The Bad:

This issue reminds me of a stupid '90s issue of the electric blue Superman insisting on putting his new powers to the test against the Justice League. As cheesy as I thought that issue was, I think it did a better job of using the JLA's powers against Superman — for instance, he actually raced the Flash around the world. In this issue, Batman wielded a bazooka, Wonder Woman threw one punch, and Flash pushed a button. And as usual, Aquaman did nothing. Kind of a missed opportunity.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time, we'll jump ahead to the far future of ... five years from now ... in the Futures End event. But before we do that, I think it'll be beneficial to examine all the various timelines the Flash has been involved in.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Flash #40


The End of the Road

Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Pat Brosseau Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

It is fitting that my last review of The Flash has a cover filled with inconsistencies. As we saw last issue, the Flash is tied down flat on a stone tablet — not awkwardly straddling this wheel-thing. And all those people cheering in the background? Not there, either. I know Booth had to draw these covers far ahead of time, but more often than not, his covers either had nothing to do with the corresponding issue or were significantly different in some way. It really annoys me that he's so bad at this.

We resume our story right where we left off in Central City, with Overload electrocuting the future blue Flash. Patty, still nursing a sprained shoulder caused by Blue, finally believes Iris' theory that the Flash is a murderer. Iris, refreshingly, has decided that human lives are more important than salacious headlines, and she bravely stands up to Overload, telling him not to kill the innocent bystanders. Overload prepares to kill her, but luckily, Blue is able to recover quickly and punch Overload.


Blue explains to Overload that he was never able to catch him in his time, but by studying his victims, Blue was able to deduce how Overload's powers work and develop a suit to protect him from Overload in case he ever found him. However, Blue's suit has one weakness — the watch Patty gave him 20 years ago. Overload is able to hone in on that watch and cause it to explode, ripping apart Blue's arm. Patty rushes to Blue's side, and he finally tells her that he's the future version of Barry Allen.

Beyond space-time, in the savage world of the Speed Force, the current Flash wakes up to find himself tied to a big, flat stone, with Selkirk standing over him, wearing a stupid hooded robe. Flash shouts at Selkirk for going back on his word, and Selkirk explains that he will indeed help Flash regain his powers, and then he'll take them. Selkirk says he's known exactly how to escape the Speed Force for a long time, but was never able to without an avatar of the Speed Force, which is the Flash. Barry asks Selkirk about his people, and Selkirk says he lied to them that he'd share Flash's powers with each of them. He sent Spotter and Johnny (whose name is spelled differently in each issue) back to the Outpost to bring all the people to the mountain, but Selkirk plans to be long gone by the time they reach the temple. So Selkirk begins the ceremony, which is actually quite simple. He pokes Flash with a lightning-shaped dagger, and then says some magic words. Suddenly, Flash is consumed in lightning/energy.

In Central City, Blue and Patty sit and have a rather long conversation while Overload is trying to and possibly killing people. Patty sits and asks a bunch of questions, and Blue tries to justify his actions, saying he loves her so much and wanted a second chance, but now he know he betrayed her, blah, blah, blah. Finally, Patty tells him he can't undo the damage he caused, but he can still stop Overload, who is literally frying people to death while these two idiots have their heart-to-heart. And insensitive members of the crowd are tweeting pictures of the carnage with captions like, "Dude b trippin." I guess the people of Central City are quite used to things like this by now.

Blue says he hit Overload with everything he had (one simple punch), but it barely staggered him. Blue concludes that the WiFi towers are making Overload too powerful, so he has his suit generate a robotic arm for him, then proceeds to carry out his plan to disrupt Overload's signal. Blue first grabs a cellphone from a girl who was having the stupidest text conversation ever: "At that event at the park. Some weirdo in a top hat is fighting the Flash. CRAZY. Going to take a photo! The guy shoots energy OUT OF HIS HANDS. This is going to get me so many likes on Instagram! #superhero." And this girl's stupid friend responds with "LOLZ!" Before Blue grabs the phone and texts, "Borrowing your friend's phone. —Flash."

Blue continues running through the crowd, grabbing everybody's phones, tablets and laptops. He makes phone calls, sends texts, takes stupid selfies with his tongue sticking out, and does everything to crash the brand new wireless Internet network. In some inexplicable way, Blue's plan works, and the network not only crashes, but the massive WiFi towers somehow explode violently. Then another inexplicable thing happens. Overload completely returns to normal. He not only loses his powers, but can no longer hearing the buzzing of electronics in his head. Overload thanks Blue for taking away his pain, then wonders why Blue isn't trying to kill him anymore. As the police take Overload away, Blue dramatically falls to his knees and says, "I'm not that man anymore."

In the savage world of the Speed Force, Flash is screaming in agony as the lightning returns to his body. Selkirk says another magic word in an attempt to take the power, but he gets blasted by the lightning and is severely injured. The light show ends, and Flash is perfectly fine. Finding he has his powers back, he inspects Selkirk, who has half his face fried off. Flash says he would have helped Selkirk and his people, but he chooses not to, and rushes out of the Speed Force and back home, not noticing that Selkirk is still alive and does, in fact, have super speed.

In Central City, Blue approaches Patty, who now has her arm in a sling. He tells her he really wanted to kill Overload, and easily could have, but she helped him see how far he's fallen and remind him of the man he can be. But Patty is furious with him, saying he might have been the Flash once, but he's not him now and never will be. Patty sadly adds that the man she loved is gone. And right on cue, the man she loves returns in a sparkly explosion.

Flash is shocked to see his future self surrounded by chaos and carnage. Flash demands to know what Blue did to his city, and Blue says Flash can have it and Patty back. He says he's exhausted, and basically asks his younger self to kill him. Before Flash can wrap his mind around the insanity of the situation, Selkirk suddenly arrives, demanding to have the rest of Flash's power. Flash and Blue instantly decide to team up and take down Selkirk, but they initially have a hard time even hitting him. Apparently, Selkirk has honed his intellect through a lifetime of study, which means that he can think faster than both the Flashes.

So Flash decides to take the fight away from the city, and he drags Blue with him out to an empty field. Blue reminds Flash that the Speed Force won't allow two versions of them to exist in the same time, which is what caused the explosion that killed Wally and sent Flash to the Speed Force. Flash says he wants to cause an ever bigger explosion because Selkirk is a madman and can't go free. So Blue says he'll sacrifice himself to cause the explosion, which he does by ... I don't know ... pulling some energy from Flash?

However he did it, Blue created a massive burst of energy that sent Selkirk flying away, and left himself dying at the bottom of a crater. Flash regroups with his future self and offers to help absorb some of the energy. But Blue refuses his help, and with his last words, he tells his younger self that he finally found a clue about their mom's killer — Thawne. After uttering that mysterious, yet significant name, Blue fades away in a puff of smoke, leaving the correct, current Flash behind.

Later, Barry finally returns home to his girlfriend, Patty Spivot. However, Patty has packed her bags and is leaving. She tells Barry she knows he's the real one, but she can't look at his face without seeing the murderous monster his future self was. So, just like that, Patty walks away from Barry forever.

Elsewhere, we see that Selkirk is still alive, but paralyzed. But he's not alone. Someone picks him up and brings him to a man who introduces himself as Professor Zoom. Selkirk moans that all his studying was for nothing, but Zoom says he can still serve a purpose, and he promises to teach Selkirk all about the Speed Force.

The Good:

I had a hard time containing my disgust during the synopsis. It just sucks! This is a really horrible, terrible issue. I did like that Iris actually, almost, did something heroic for a change, but that was a very brief and fleeting moment. And I guess I should be excited to see the New 52 version of Eobard Thawne, but I can't follow this creative team for one more issue. Thankfully, I can use the dropping of the New 52 slogan as an excuse to end this blog.

The Bad:

Patty Spivot. Iris West had slowly been degrading, and both version of Barry Allen had devolved to something between a complete idiot and clinically insane. But through all that, Patty somehow remained the lone stalwart, reasonable, likable character on the title. Until this issue. Overload is killing people all around her, Blue has just demonstrated his murderous tendency and sprained her shoulder, but she still insists on running to his side and engaging in a lengthy heart-to-heart conversation with him. I know she did end the conversation by directing Blue to actually take down the bad guy, but she's the one who started the conversation and somehow felt it was appropriate to ask a whole bunch of questions. And then she welcomes back her true boyfriend by walking out on him. Actually, I'm not too made she did that. I just don't like her reasoning. She should have left Barry because of the way he treated her before the future Barry replaced him. Remember, the current Barry had turned into a huge jerk, looking for every excuse to ditch his girlfriend to hang out with a random 12-year-old boy. That's a much more valid reason than "you look like the murderer who impersonated you for a few days."

Overload fight. I hated how Blue punched Overload once, then later said he hit him with everything he's got. No that's not! You've trained under Lady Shiva and Batman! At least punch him twice! But more egregious: this was the stupidest way to beat a bad guy ever. I don't know a whole lot about WiFi, but I'm pretty sure what Blue did here is impossible. Even if he was somehow able to use everyone's devices to push the network past the absolute limit, the WiFi tower would not explode like that! The servers would crash, sure, but the physical structure would be fine. And how, exactly, did Blue crash the servers? They said these towers (even though we only ever see one) could provide WiFi for the entire city. We never see Blue leave the city to bring in more devices than it can handle. He just commandeers everyone's phones. But here's the thing: they were already using their phones on the WiFi. How could Blue possibly force more data through the phones than was already being used? Just because he can run at super speed doesn't mean that he can magically speed up electronics to somehow use an hour's worth of data in one second. I don't get it. And what was with all the people of Central City? They don't care about the people dying around them, nor are they very efficient texters. Instead of telling your friend that you're going to take a picture, how about just taking the picture first and sending it to your friend? Finally, how in the heck did the destruction of the WiFi tower(s) cure Overload? There are still a million electronic devices operating just fine. Only the WiFi was disabled.

Flash's escape from the Speed Force. When Selkirk took Flash to the mountain, they made a big deal of what a dangerous journey it was. They could only get three others to accompany them, and one of them died. But this issue opens with Selkirk apparently sending the two others away to get the rest of the people. Why? How did they go along with this plan? Selkirk says the whole village was in on a plan to take Flash's powers. So why didn't anyone else come to the mountain with them? Why were Spotter and Johnny/Johnnie so willing to leave Selkirk alone with the Flash? The writers needed to get rid of the extraneous characters, and they did so in a sloppy, nonsensical way. But what really, really gets me mad is what Barry does once he gets his powers back. He doesn't even bother to check if Selkirk is alive. And he makes no effort to save anyone else from the Speed Force. Yeah, they were all jerks who conspired against you, but that's only because they were desperate to get out of there. And regardless of what Savitar tried to do, he still deserves basic medical attention. The Flash I know and love would have rushed Selkirk back to the Outpost, had the doctor work on him, then do everything he can to pull everybody out of the Speed Force. He wouldn't try to bring them back to their original times, but living in Central City in the 2010s sure beats living in the Speed Force.

Selkirk fight. Selkirk has had super speed for roughly two minutes, and he can already think faster than both Flashes? In the New 52, Barry had quite a bit of trouble learning to think at super speed. He would be able to quickly analyze all possible outcomes, but it would freeze him in his footsteps. And this was after he'd been using his powers for about five years. OK, so Selkirk has been studying these powers for who knows how long. But can he still easily outclass the future blue Flash, who has been using his powers for more than 25 years? I think not! And don't you just love how convenient these Speed Force "explosions" have been? The Speed Force doesn't want two versions of Barry Allen to exist in the same time, but it'll sure take its sweet time trying to expel one of them. And how nice and clean is it that only undesirable, hard-to-explain future version of the characters fell victim to this — the future Wally and future Barry.

Ugh. I hate this issue so much! I did my best to give the new creative team a fair chance, but I did not like anything they did. I didn't like the stories they told, I didn't like how they portrayed the main characters, and I didn't like the art. Sure, there were lots of shiny energy moments, but there was no distinction between the Flash's energy and Overload's. Everything just felt shallow and superficial. I tried my best to objectively score each issue, I really did. During Manapul and Buccellato's run, I regularly handed out 9s and 10s. Under Venditti, Jensen and Booth, I never scored higher than a 5. And this one is my lowest score for a Flash issue.

Final score: 1 out of 10

We're done with The Flash, but we're not done with The New 52. Next time, we'll lighten things up a bit with Superman #40.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Flash #39


Power Loss

Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Pat Brosseau Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

This cover is a true rarity for this creative team — it actually shows something that happens in this issue. Flash and Selkirk actually do scale a mountain and are chased around by giant pterodactyls. Of course, the Flash's costume isn't as beat up anymore, since he had it repaired. And the floating rocks in the background are more reminiscent of the Francis Manapul Speed Force than what we've actually been seeing lately.

Our story begins during the reign of villains known as "Forever Evil" in Central City. As Deathstorm, Multiplex, Hyena and Typhoon went around killing people at will, one person was actually happy. The man who would become Overload was thrilled by the blackout caused by the Crime Syndicate. With no TVs, computers, radios or phones, he finally put to rest the constant buzzing in his skull. His whole life he'd been living in chronic pain that doctors couldn't explain, until this brief moment of relief. But then the Flash returned and brought order back to the world. The blackout ended, and the buzzing returned for Overload, who finally realized what the source of his pain was. He became uncontrollably furious at his predicament, and accidentally discovered he has electrical powers. Now, still in Central City, Overload tells his horse, Alastair, that he can't suffer anymore and will put a stop to all the buzzing today.

Nearby, Iris West is talking on the phone to her editor, Dave. He's apparently having a hard time believing Iris' story about the Flash becoming a killer, but she asks him to trust her as he did with the missing bodies story, and says she has a source deep in the police department. Iris then heads to her meeting place with the source, who turns out to be Patty Spivot.


Apparently this isn't the first time these two have met in secret, although none of the previous issues dropped any hints of this going on. Anyway, Patty (almost hopefully) tells Iris that some witnesses said Napalm's severed arm was an accident. But Iris reminds her that she was on the scene and watched the Flash nearly slice Napalm's throat. She asks Patty for surveillance feeds and audio from interviews with Napalm, which Patty would be very unlikely to obtain, since she is just a blood analyst. Patty again has a hard time believing that someone who has given so much to the city would become a killer.

So Iris tries a new tactic, and asks Patty if there are any mysterious cases of injuries or deaths the Flash could have caused. As it turns out, Patty has just the case that meets that criteria. Patty tells the reporter about the recent case of the college kid Kyle, who had his heart pulverized. But Patty is quick to say it couldn't have been the Flash. Iris says that maybe the Flash was a hero, but people change — usually for the worse. Without giving too much away, Patty says she has ways of tracking the Flash, and she'll call Iris when he's on the move. If they're going to bring down the hero of Central City, they need hard evidence.

In the Central City Police Department central precinct morgue, the future Barry Allen is examining Overload's first two victims. In Blue's timeline, Overload killed hundreds before escaping in the chaos and was never brought to justice. Now, Blue vows to make things right. He finds that both the victims have some horse hair on them just as Patty walks in. He tells her he's noticed some similarities between one of the bodies Iris found and a recent homicide victim. Blue then abruptly says he needs to leave on "Flash stuff." Patty surreptitiously activates the GPS on her boyfriend's phone and hands it to him before he leaves.

In the savage Speed Force, a land beyond conventional time and space, the current Flash, Selkirk, and three others have begun their climb up the mountain. Suddenly, the group is attacked by quetzalcoatls — the giant dinosaur-birds on the cover. The climbers try to defend themselves with their futuristic weapons, but the twin brother Taylor is swept away by one of the beasts and gruesomely torn limb from limb by the other birds. Flash gets distracted by the carnage and is also captured by a pterodactyl.

Back in Central City, a large crowd has gathered at the public unveiling of some LexCorp broadcast towers that will create a citywide WiFi grid. Overload is in the crowd, preparing to make his move, and Blue is there, as well, planning to prevent the attack. It doesn't take long for Blue to find Overload, and he begins beating the crap out of him, blaming him for killing 207 people and frying all nearby electronics. Blue says this time he'll kill Overload, and someone nearby tells Flash he can't mean that.

In the savage Speed Force, Selkirk is able to save Flash by leaping on the back of the giant pterodactyl and shoving his knife through its neck. Selkirk regroups the climbers and prevents Johnnie from going berserk over the loss of her twin brother. The group soon reaches the top of the mountain, which contains a temple dedicated to the Speed Force. Flash is amazed at the detail of the hieroglyphics on the walls, saying they even surpass the ones he saw in Gorilla City. But as Flash studies the runes, he learns that Selkirk needed a speedster to act as a lightning rod for him to call down the lightning. Just when Barry realizes Selkirk intends to sacrifice him, he's knocked out from behind.

Back in Central City, we see that Patty has somehow caught up to Blue at the WiFi unveiling. She's accompanied by Iris, who is gleefully gloating about having the headline of the decade "Killer Flash" (which is actually a pretty weak headline in this journalist's opinion). Patty tells Blue that if that man is guilty of a crime, then he needs to be arrested, tried and convicted. Blue pauses for a second, but then says he's going to save everyone. Patty tries to stop him, but he roughly tosses her aside, spraining her shoulder. Realizing what he's done, Blue tries to apologize, but Iris rushes to Patty's side and tells Blue to stay away from her. Just then, the WiFi tower is turned on, and Overload goes nuts. He attacks the future Blue Flash, while Selkirk prepares to attack the current Flash.


The Good:

I really can't say there was anything I particularly liked about this issue. I guess I mostly feel relief that some of these story lines are finally beginning to wrap up. And I am very happy I only have one more issue of this creative team to cover.

The Bad:

Iris West. I want to smack her so bad! She is standing three feet away from someone about to commit murder and she is cheering about having the headline of the decade. Seriously?! Did Iris forget about all the Flash's heroics in the past? Did she forget how he saved her from the Speed Force? Is she choosing to ignore the battle against her insane brother, the Reverse-Flash, and the moment where she had super speed and worked alongside Flash? Has it completely escaped her mind that she was once asked to write a story on the Flash's brutality but chose to scrap it do to a lack of evidence, despite the growing public opinion to the contrary raised by Dr. Darwin Elias? Actually, the answer to all these questions is that Robert Venditti and Van Jensen forgot all these things and/or simply didn't care. For whatever reason, they're intent on making Iris the biggest jerk ever, and it's breaking my heart.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next: Flash and future Flash race toward the end of the road!

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Flash #38


Skeletons in the Closet

Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Pat Brosseau Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor

Our cover is another symbolic collage of sorts. Blue Flash is crashing through one of Mirror Master's mirrors, and at his immediate left is Patty Spivot. Continuing clockwise, we have the current Flash, Mirror Master, Wally West (who is thankfully not in this issue), Iris West, Selkirk, and the new Rogue, Napalm. I have no idea who that's supposed to be in the bottom left corner. Overload? It sure doesn't look like the guy we say last issue. And there isn't anyone in this issue that looks like that. This is just yet another example of these Flash covers not meshing with the actual content inside. Why are covers so problematic for this creative team?

Our story begins now in Central City, where Blue has finally organized all the dead bodies he led Iris to. And even though Patty has a completely different and equally busy job, she's insisting on helping with the examination of these bodies so she can spend more time with her boyfriend. Of course, this kind of negates Blue's earlier statement about doing all this work at super speed, but whatever.


So Blue begins by quickly determining the cause of death for each victim, determining that most of them were killed by Deathstorm, Typhoon, Hyena and Plastique. But on John Doe 63, Blue finds signs of electrical scarring, as well as trauma consistent with a small-scale explosive event, leading him to believe he's found Overload's first victim. Overload, meanwhile, is out complaining to his horse, Alastair, about all the electronics around him, vowing once again to soon silence all the jabbering fools.

Blue's examination is interrupted by the inexplicable appearance of Iris. Even though she's the most despised woman at the CCPD, they still let her just waltz in to this highly sensitive room. Anyway, Iris thanks Blue for giving her the tip, and says she might have a shot at beating out Lois Lane for the Pulitzer Prize this year. But Barry is furious with Iris' award-chasing attitude, and reminds her that these unidentified victims were real people with real lives. Before Iris can defend herself, the police scanner reports Mirror Master being spotted in the financial district (what kind of a city has a financial district?). Iris immediately excuses herself, saying the Rogues usually end up on the front page above the fold. And Blue callously says there might be a body count if Iris is lucky.

Outside the bounds of time and space, in the savage world of the Speed Force, Barry is finally having his suit repaired by the 18th century seamstress, Louise. She comments on how remarkable his suit is, not even needing patches. Barry says he needs clothes that can come back from a beating (like armor ... but he changed that for some reason). Barry then engages Selkirk in another conversation where he strangely seems shocked out of his mind to be surrounded by things from the past and future.

William Selkirk takes Flash to his room, and explains that in the early 20th century he was a student of the Speed Force. He was a specialist in myths and legends of ancient indigenous cultures, and first came across a mention of the Speed Force during his doctoral studies of anthropology at Oxford. He then spent his family's fortune traveling the world to learn the mystery of the speedsters. He found Aboriginal cave paintings in Australia that depicted lightning granting power to people, and stone carvings in Bolivia that suggested the same thing.

Selkirk published his findings, but was derided as an amateur. So he redoubled his efforts, spending years living with obscure tribes and cultures. Eventually, his travels led him to America, where a Goshute shaman directed him to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. There, Selkirk just happened to come across a tear in the Speed Force. In his exuberance, he stepped too close to it and was sucked in. Selkirk met up with some other people, and he quickly became their leader because he knew the most about the Speed Force and had already spent the past few years living in harsh conditions.

Of course, all Barry cares about from this story is whether Selkirk can help him get his powers back. Selkirk assures him that he's just the man to do it, saying he received his lightning scars from attempting a ritual taught to him by pygmy sprinters in the Congo. So Selkirk gathers a team of a guy named Spotter and the Singer twins, Johnny and Taylor (Johnny's a girl), and they head off for the mountain.

In Central City, Mirror Master pops up in a random bank, accompanied by a guy in a fire suit named Napalm. But Napalm is a bit out of control, and Mirror Master warns him to cool it. Apparently Napalm is the third replacement for Heatwave (who I guess is officially dead by this point), and Mirror Master warns Napalm that if he kills anyone, they'll get a fourth replacement. But Napalm doesn't listen to him, and actually begins to burn the very money they're trying to steal. Blue Flash soon arrives, and he and Mirror Master half-heartedly talk about the Rogues returning to crime after being heroes, and how Captain Cold is the only one who came away from Forever Evil looking good.

Napalm gets pretty excited to see the Flash, and he begins burning everything in sight. Mirror Master becomes disgusted with his behavior, and uses his mirrors to protect the civilians while telling Napalm he's failed his tryout. Blue Flash completely ignores how Sam Scudder just saved a bunch of people and says, "You never change, Scudder. Innocent people always get hurt around you, and it's never your fault." So Mirror Master starts to retreat, but as he pulls Napalm through a mirror with him, Blue uses one of the upgrades on his suit to launch a small projectile at the mirror. The mirror shatters with Napalm's arm halfway through, leaving Sam holding a severed arm on his end, and a screaming, bleeding Napalm in the real world.

Sam is shocked to see the Flash behave so violently, and Blue begins to justify his actions, saying everyone saw how careless Napalm was. He picks up a large shard of glass and says that if he kills Napalm right now, he'll protect the innocent people Napalm was likely to kill later. Iris conveniently arrives right at this crucial moment. Blue sees her and stops himself, throwing Napalm to the police and quickly taking off. Iris calls her editor, Dave, to tell him she has a new story — the Flash is a killer.

At the Central City Police Department Downtown Precinct, Patty is returning to her mystery case of Kyle the college kid. She's found a few fibers in his chest cavity, which appear to be made of graphene, a material decades away from commercial use. James Forrest comes by to tell her about the Flash's incident with Mirror Master, and say that Patty has specifically been requested for this case because of the large amounts of blood. Patty has a hard time believing the Flash actually severed a man's arm. Blue suddenly appears and asks Patty about the fibers she's analyzing. But Patty refuses to tell him about it and coldly walks away.

The Good:

Hmm ... I did like that Patty is finally realizing the Barry she's with is a big jerk. And Selkirk's backstory was semi-interesting, although I'm still sad he's not the New 52 version of Savitar. But really, this is one of the sloppier issues from this creative team, and there isn't much good about it.

The Bad:

Iris West. She has become completely unbearable in every possible way. I start to cringe whenever she appears on page. Not only is she suddenly able to appear whenever and wherever is needed to help the plot, but she now fully epitomizes the absolute worst qualities of any journalist. Immediately after being chewed out for placing her career ahead of people, she tactlessly gets excited at another chance to be on the front page. And if future Barry is so angry with how she's handling the story he gave her, then why did he give it to her in the first place? He easily could have uncovered the truth as Barry Allen. I guess we have to chalk this up to another bizarre, inconsistent action of the crazy future Flash.

Lost opportunity with the Rogues. This is actually the first time the current Rogues have shown up in The Flash since they saved Central City from the Crime Syndicate. And all we got was Mirror Master and some expendable Heatwave replacement. Where was Sam's girlfriend, Glider? Where was Weather Wizard? These guys had their own miniseries. But now? Just a quick cameo to remind us of how violent the future Flash is. The few, throwaway lines about the Rogues' role after Forever Evil and Captain Cold could have and should have been the focus of an entire issue. I love this family of criminals, and I really want to know what they're up to.

Final score: 3 out of 10

Next: On the hunt for a killer!