Monday, July 20, 2015

The Flash #35

The Flash #35

Out of Time

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

Our cover shows the type of fight I was hoping for last issue. The two versions of the Flash are actually battling at high-speed — popping around and hitting each other all over the place. I think Booth could have done a better job with the current Flash's face, but it's not a huge problem. All in all, it's a fairly decent cover as far as this art team is concerned.

Our story picks right up where we left off, with the blue future Flash arriving in Central City now. He's still standing in the middle of the road, calculating how damaged the Speed Force is. A bunch of cars pass him by, including a Kord brand truck (in honor of one of the old Blue Beetles, Ted Kord). One guy in a fancy sports car is unable to pass Blue, and he demands the hero step out of the way because he's in a hurry. Blue Flash takes offense to this, and pulls the man out of his car. Luckily, the civilian is saved by Blue's computer, which reports that the Speed Force damage is only at 3.78 percent, below the hypothesized need of 4.22 percent to fix. Satisfied with this report, Blue Flash takes off, leaving the frightened and confused man behind.

We then check in with the current Barry Allen, who is enjoying his morning bowl of cereal, which he's eating from a custom Flash bowl. Suddenly, he's stolen away by Blue Flash. His Flash cereal bowl shatters on the ground, waking up Patty Spivot, who was sleeping in a long Flash T-shirt. I wonder just how much Flash paraphernalia Barry has in his apartment. Anyway, Blue Flash takes Barry out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. This Barry also thinks Blue is Daniel West, but Blue Flash delays revealing his identity until he shows his past self the damage they've caused to the Speed Force.

Blue Flash then tells Barry that he's himself from 20 years in the future. He explains how the rift in the Speed Force only grows through the years, causing him to lose more time each day, eventually leading to the death of Wally West. Blue says it took him years to realize the Speed Force was leaking, and it took him even more years to find the tear. By the time he found it, it was too big to fix; but he developed a theory to seal it up when it was smaller by creating a large detonation of Speed Force energy.

Current Barry is a bit confused, but is willing to help his future self. Blue is happy to hear this, and punches his past self in the face, telling him he's going to be the sacrifice. Barry says there must be another way, but Blue says only his death will create a large enough charge to fix the Speed Force. As the two speedsters fight, Blue says he's spent some time learning how to actually fight from Deathstroke, Lady Shiva and Batman. He also mocks Barry for his antiquated views on virtue always winning.

Barry then tries a new tactic, arguing that the future Flash can't kill him because he'll erase himself from existence, as seen in Back to the Future. But Blue says time travel doesn't work that way — since he's already removed from the time stream, any changes to the future won't affect him. It also means that going back far enough to prevent himself from being born won't fix the Speed Force — it has to be healed.

So current Barry decides to get serious and throws on his red Flash outfit. But he's no match for his future self, who easily defeats him and mocks his past, clothing suit. Blue says his new suit is much better, but he won't hurt people to show off like Plague and Overload — two villains the current Flash hasn't met yet. Blue picks up Red and holds him up to the tear, while he attempts to replicate the same burst he experienced last issue.

Suddenly, Blue Flash is knocked down by none other than an adult Wally West wearing a silver suit. Wally explains that he spent years training his powers so he could come back and prevent the twisted version of Barry from causing any more damage. As the current Barry lies injured on the ground, Wally dodges all of Blue Flash's attacks and jokes about how confusing it is to refer to the future in the past tense. But Blue is able to fire some shrapnel from his suit at Red. Wally figures the only way to save the good Barry is to run in front of the shrapnel, which he takes in the chest and is mortally wounded.

Red Flash isn't doing too well either, as his body starts converting to energy and is pulled into the Speed Force. The injured Wally crawls over to his mentor, and says he'll absorb Barry's Speed Force energy to save him. Wally's plan works, and his body is converted to energy. Before he's pulled into the Speed Force, he urges Barry not to give up on his younger self, saying he only became a hero because he learned it from Barry.

When Wally dies, there's a large strike of lightning, and the healed, but powerless Red Flash falls into the Speed Force before it seals itself up. Blue Flash stands alone in the Salt Flats, asking for Wally's forgiveness. And his computer tells him the Speed Force is now functioning normally, and it is impossible for him to return to his own timeline.

Far, far away, Red Flash wakes up in a jungle with his cloth-like costume torn to shreds. The sudden appearance of a dinosaur leads Barry to believe he's been thrown into the far past. As he tries his best to escape without his super speed, a flying robot arrives and vaporizes the dinosaur. It scans the confused Barry, and says, "Unauthorized presence detected. Exterminate."

The Good:

The Salt Flats. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato introduced the idea of Flash using the Salt Flats as a sort of Fortress of Solitude. And it makes a lot of sense, since a lot of land speed records have been set on that salt. The Salt Flats were also the site of all the craziness that went down with the Reverse-Flash, so it was great to see Venditti and Jensen build on that. However, I do think it's a little silly that it took Blue Flash years to find the tear in the Speed Force since he should have started his search at the Salt Flats. Or maybe Gorilla City, but it shouldn't have taken him so long to investigate such a significant area.

The Bad:

Flash's costume. Booth has been drawing it like it was made of cloth ever since he took over this title. And now Venditti and Jensen threw in dialogue actually referring to it as cloth. But the New 52 version of this costume was always, specifically armor. Manapul and Buccellato referenced that fact several times. But I guess this current creative team either ignored that fact or deliberately decided to change it without giving a reason why. Both scenarios make me angry.

The fight between the two Flashes wasn't nearly as good as advertised on the cover, but it was a big improvement over the Futures End fight. And this fight had the added bonus of Wally joining the fray and stupidly allowing himself to be killed. I really wish we would have had that Futures End scene right at the beginning of this story arc, and spend the next five or six issues showing Wally train and search for the evil Flash. That would have been a lot better than watching him randomly kill some former Rogues and prevent others from committing suicide. What we got here wasn't bad — it just wasn't good. All the stuff with the Speed Force didn't make much sense, but I think it made just enough to get by. It also would have made more sense for the Blue Flash to be willing to sacrifice himself — after all, he did express a desire to prevent his own birth. But this is consistent with this character, who has failed to make a single rational move this entire story arc.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next: The Flash — all new, all-murderous!

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