Thursday, July 16, 2015

Futures End: The Flash #1

Impact Velocity

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 issue fell under DC's big event of September 2014. Not only did all the issues take place five years in the future (for some inane reason), but they also received 3-D covers, which were admittedly better than the 3-D covers of 2013. Unfortunately, the digital copy of this issue only gives us the Wally West version of the cover. The physical copy of this issue had Wally alternate between the current version of the Barry Allen Flash, depending on which angle you viewed the cover from. I have to admit, I don't hate Wally's silver suit. I might hate everything else about this character, but I don't hate the suit.

The following story veers into rather confusing time travel areas. So to try to reduce some of the confusion, I will present an abbreviated timeline. These comics refuse to give a baseline year for the "now," and only refer to things as "five years from now" or "20 years from now." For simplicity's sake, I will assign the year 2012 to the "now" referred to in this story arc. I picked that year by working with the assumption that The Flash #1 took place in 2011 (the year it actually came out). I surmise that all the adventures Flash had from that issue to now could not have taken much more than a year. Remember that comic book time moves much more slowly than it does in real life. For example, the Forever Evil event took about eight months to complete, although the actual story took place over just a couple of days.

At the end of Flashpoint, Barry inadvertently created a new timeline. I will call this Timeline A. In Timeline A, Wally West is killed in 2017. The Trickster accidentally kills a young family and commits suicide in 2019. Captain Cold dies of cancer in 2024. Mirror Master accidentally kills 11 people in 2028. And in 2032, Barry kills Gorilla Grodd and begins his journey back in time, thereby creating Timeline B, which we will experience firsthand in this issue. The main events happen five years from now (2017), involving the current Barry of the time who still wears a red suit. And he's visited by the blue-suited Barry of 20 years from now (2032). I will call the '17 version Red Flash, and the '32 version Blue Flash. And I may have made things more complicated. Let's just dive in then.

Five years from now, 87 miles northwest of Peshawar, Pakistan, Red Flash rescues a bus full of people from a landslide. With everybody safe, he tunes in to the Central City police band to see if he's missed anything back home. Unfortunately he has. Daniel West, aka the Reverse-Flash, has escaped from Iron Heights and is tearing things up. Flash uses his fancy new computer to help him calculate that he'll lose four minutes, 13 seconds by tapping into the Speed Force to run the 7,804 miles back home. As Barry races back home, he worries how many lives he sacrificed to Daniel's rampage in order to save 53 people in Pakistan.

In Central City, Blue Flash has Reverse-Flash by the throat, and explains that he came back from the future to spare Daniel from making the biggest mistake in his life — killing Wally and putting Iris in a wheelchair. Blue Flash explains that Wally and Iris are currently driving out to try to talk Daniel down. But in their desperation and haste, they "never even thought to activate their restraints," nor did they notice that the road was torn apart by Daniel's rampaging. Right on cue, Iris' car hits a pothole at top speed and flips into the air.

Daniel begs for Blue Flash to release him so he can save his family, but Blue says, "I get to be the hero" and snaps Daniel's neck. Blue then saves Iris and Wally at the last second, and explains that they were nearly killed by Daniel, but he's made sure Daniel will never be able to hurt them again. Iris and Wally see Daniel's dead body and are devastated. Before Blue Flash can properly explain himself, Red Flash arrives.

Red initially thinks Blue is Reverse-Flash wearing a new costume, but Blue removes his mask to show Red, Wally and Iris that he is Barry Allen. Blue explains that the Speed Force is broken, causing him to lose time whenever he runs. He says this prevented him from saving Wally and Iris — a guilt he's lived with the past 15 years. Blue tells Red that the Speed Force was torn open wider every time Daniel, Grodd and himself traveled through time, and now they have to fix it before the Speed Force unravels the very fabric of space and time. Red says there has to be a way to fix it, and Blue says he has a plan to go back far enough to when the rift is small enough to heal.

And then for no apparent reason, Blue Flash says he has to go through Red Flash. Blue punches Red, which causes a big, Speed Force-feedback explosion. Blue punches Red a few more times before saying he didn't come here to kill his past self, but he won't let Red stand in his way. Red Flash figures he has nothing to lose at this point, and grabs Blue's chest emblem to replicate the feedback explosion. For some idiotic reason, Wally decides to run into the middle of this large and dangerous display of light and energy. This explosion is even larger than before, and it causes Blue to disappear, and Red to suffer fatal injuries.

Wally is miraculously unharmed by this, and has conveniently acquired super speed through the ordeal. As Barry lies dying, he tells Wally he felt his future self be pushed to somewhere in the time stream. He urges Wally to train and learn how to use his new powers so he can find where Blue Flash went and stop him. Barry then dies in Wally's arms, and the 17-year-old vows to make the twisted future version of Barry pay for what he's done.

Now, Blue Flash arrives in the current time that I call 2012. He's nearly hit by a truck carrying Waid's Sacs of Meat (a nod to legendary Flash writer Mark Waid). Blue Flash's computer then explains that it took him back in time five years, as per its pre-programming. Blue doesn't quite understand how that happened, but he doesn't care. He's when he wants to be and is ready to end it.

The Good:

Hmm ... you know what? I've got nothing. This was supposed to be a big, shocking story, but I'm not invested in it at all. I'm not worried about Flash or Reverse-Flash being killed because this story takes place five years in the future. And that future is about to be nullified, so what does it matter? And the idea of the Flash fighting himself is a fascinating one, but it was handled so poorly. Instead of running around the world at warp speed, these two speedsters stood in one place and "focused their energy" really hard. It was akin to the notoriously long power-up scenes in Dragon Ball Z, but without the payoff of an actual fight later on. I feel cheated.

The Bad:

Stupid future Flash. Barry really is getting stupider as this series progresses. And by the year 2032, he is a complete moron of the highest degree. First, let's start with his stupid, "futuristic" way of saying seat belts. This is the same Barry that was born in the 1980s and grew up in modern times. How did he get to the point where he says "activate your restraints" instead of "put on your seat belt"? Nitpicking aside, why did Blue Flash feel compelled to kill Red Flash? Before their fight, Red Flash did not give one inkling of wanting to stop Blue Flash. If anything, he wanted to help his future self repair the Speed Force. If Venditti and Jensen really wanted the two Flashes to fight, they should have made sure that Blue Flash said something truly diabolical to get Red Flash to try to stop him. But logically, Blue Flash should have just ran away back to the past as soon as Red Flash showed up. There was no need for him to try to explain anything to those people. But if he did that, then we wouldn't have had Wally getting his powers!

I really don't know what to make of Wally in this issue. Yeah, he and Iris were acting quite stupid, but who wasn't? And I guess it makes sense how Wally got his powers, although it came about in a very convenient and stupid way. But hey, at least Booth actually drew Wally to look 17-years-old this time.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next: Three Flashes enter, one Flash remains!

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