Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The Flash #32
Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Dezi Sienty Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
I find it interesting that the same month Justice League's cover felt a month too late, The Flash commits the same sin. Mirror Master does not appear in this issue, and if you remember last issue, this is not how the Flash killed him — he just left him to be shredded by his own mirrors. The text, "Who will he kill next?" tries to justify this odd image, but I'd much rather see something that actually happens inside.
Our story begins 12 years from now in Central City. Leonard Snart, formerly Captain Cold, is dying in a cancer ward, and his doctor doesn't seem too sympathetic. She makes a snarky comment about how foolish he was to fuse his DNA with his freeze gun, not knowing or caring that Deathstorm reverted Snart's DNA back to normal. As the doctor leaves the room, she says Captain Cold has sent enough patients to the E.R. to have a whole wing named after him.
And once she's gone, the dying Rogue is visited by the blue future Flash. Back to now, in Central City, the current Flash is out running past even more anti-Flash graffiti. I really wonder who all these Flash haters are. Anyway, Barry gets a phone call from Patty, who initially uses the lame excuse of needing coffee filters to talk to her boyfriend. But then Patty admits she's just worried about Barry, who's been running himself rather hard lately. Barry tells her he's still investigating the case of an old crime group being killed by stolen weapons. There are only two members of that group still alive, and Barry has learned one of them lives in the peaceful suburbs, so he tells Patty not to worry about him on this mission.
But once Flash arrives at the house, he feels like he's in a living Salvador Dali painting. All the rules of physics have been broken, as the house and nearby trees are oddly warped and fused together. Inside, Flash finds the former criminal being killed by an old villain named Merge. Whatever he touches with his gloves becomes fused together, which isn't too big a deal when he combines a lamp with a TV, but it does become rather troublesome when he combines the wall with the floor. Flash jokes that Merge would have made a killing in the modern art scene, but Merge says he'll settle on killing the Flash, and he causes the house to collapse.
Flash is easily able to escape the warping, twisting mess of a house, and he accuses this villain of not being the real Merge, who was apparently right-handed. Flash knows Merge's gloves were also stolen from the evidence room, and says the real Merge was smart enough to know not to directly confront him. The thief admits Flash is right, then shows off another weapon he stole, Gravitor's gun, which he uses to weigh down the Flash with a field of heavy gravity. Flash knows from experience he can overcome this effect, but this thief is ready for him, reversing Flash's gravity just as he builds up some speed. With his gravity much weaker, Flash's momentum sends him up into the sky.
Twelve years from now, the future Flash apologizes to Snart for missing his death the first time around. He tells him how he'd been losing time through the years thanks to the time travel by him, Daniel West and Grodd. Flash says this problem caused him to fail to prevent horrible accidents caused by the Trickster and Mirror Master, as well as the death of Wally West. Flash reminisces about the time Captain Cold joined the Justice League, and he admits being quite upset by that at the time. But now, he says he admired how Cold was able to put his past behind him and move forward. Flash says he can't do that anymore, and is now on a mission to kill his younger self to prevent all the bad from happening. He then holds Snart's hand and cries as his former enemy dies. Flash makes sure to be gone before the doctor returns, who is actually quite glad Snart is finally dead. She says her son was on a third-grade field trip to the dam when Cold froze the river, giving her boy nightmares for a month.
Now, high above Central City, Flash is able to fight his momentum and weakened gravity by spinning his arms to create two whirlwinds to push him back down to Earth. He lands a little harder than he intended to in a pond, and is surprised to see Patty there waiting for him. She reminds him that they put a GPS tracker in his suit after he disappeared during Forever Evil, and she used it to see he was flying high above Earth and decided to come out to try to help. With the thief gone and Barry's gravity still weakened, Patty tells him to call it a night and helps him back to the car. But Barry remembers that he needs to take Iris and Wally to the baseball game. Patty angrily shoves her boyfriend away, and says that he makes time for everybody but her.
Later, at Diamonds Stadium, Barry has decided to attend the game anyway, despite Patty's very valid and emotional complaint. Little Wally is in his usual punky mood, complaining that Barry didn't get them tickets to to the Miners basketball game. Barry gives him a very boring and long-winded lecture about the beauty of slowing down and appreciating the finer things in life. Wally just kind of glares at Barry until someone hits a home run. Both Wally and Barry start cheering, and are suddenly buddy-buddy.
I am so frustrated with this series right now. The art, the story, everything. It's all a big disappointment and departure from the great series I once loved. If I had to say something good came from this issue, it's that we saw the blue future Flash actually does have a remorseful side. However, his sweet deathbed visit further negates the cover, as he didn't kill anyone.
Captain Cold's doctor. At first, it took everyone forever to realize Captain Cold had actual super powers. Now, it's taking everyone even longer to learn he lost those powers. So to blame his cancer on that is pretty weak. Just say he got cancer. Or talk about how changing his DNA back and forth messed him up. But even worse than that, what's the deal with the doctor's attitude? Your poor son had nightmares for a month, so now you're going to openly resent this dying man? The way future Barry talked, it sounded like Captain Cold served honorably in the Justice League for about 12 years. So how can this doctor ignore the 12 years of good he did and focus on the five years of non-lethal crime he led?
Barry is an idiot and a jerk. I hate that he only figured out Merge was a fake because he was left-handed — something that was not at all demonstrated through the art. Barry should have been able to figure out the pattern by now. And after his failed fight with the thief and Patty arrives, Barry asks "How'd you find me?" Doesn't he remember installing that tracker in his suit? But none of this compares to his horrible treatment of the woman he lives with and claims to love. Why didn't he tell her about the baseball game until like five minutes before it was supposed to start? And when Patty justifiably gets upset with him, why didn't he either bring Patty with him, or even better, tell Iris and Wally to enjoy the game themselves while he spends the evening with his girlfriend. It's pretty obvious that Venditti and Jensen want to end the Barry-Patty romance, but they're tearing it apart at the expense of Barry's character.
Illogical meet-up with the Wests. It still doesn't make one lick of sense for Barry to be so eager to spend so much time with Iris and Wally. It's one thing to sympathize with a kid who's lost his family, but to go all out for an ex-girlfriend like this? Really weird. And this dynamic only gets weirder, as Wally and Barry's relationship turned on a dime, and ended up with them cheering on the game arm-in-arm. It makes me just a tad uncomfortable to see Barry wrapping his arm around a 12-year-old boy he barely knows. I'd be fine if they had some previous positive experiences together, but it really feels too soon at this point.
Final score: 2 out of 10
Next time, let's take a quick detour with a passive Flash appearance in Batman and Robin #33.