Monday, July 27, 2015
The Flash #36
Robert Venditti & Van Jensen Writers
Brett Booth (Pages 1–2, 12–16), André Coelho (Pages 3–11, 17–20) Pencillers
Norm Rapmund Inker
Andrew Dalhouse Colorist
Taylor Esposito Letterer
Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse Cover
Amedeo Turturro Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
This issue is dedicated to the memory of André Coelho
As the dedication implies, this is the final work of Coelho, who died shortly after completing the pencils for this issue. Rapmund reported that he only lived long enough to see two of these pages fully inked. Strangely, I haven't been able to learn the cause of death, but I do know the Brazilian artist was 35 when he passed.
Once again, we are given a cover that depicts a scene that happened last issue. The Flash was chased around by this very dinosaur, but the beast was soon killed by a futuristic robot. So why is he being chased again? As is usually the case with Booth's work, this cover seems pretty exciting upon an initial glance. But the more I look at it, the more I find fault with it. That dinosaur is pretty wonky looking, and it's jaw seems to be stretched open too wide. The Flash is in a very unnatural pose, and I hate how his fingers are interlocked with the dinosaur's teeth. He could only have lined up his fingers like that through a conscious, deliberate action, which is completely nonsensical for someone running for his life. And, of course, the speed/lightning effects should not be present, since Barry currently doesn't have his super speed.
Now, beyond conventional time and space, we pick right up with the powerless and injured Barry Allen. He was saved from the dinosaur by the robot, but now the robot seems intent on killing him, as well.
Barry tries to run, but trips, and is reminded once again that he can't tap into the Speed Force. Suddenly, he is saved by a shirtless man, who has a large lightning-shaped scar on his chest. He teaches Barry that the best way to avoid these robots is to stop moving, since they apparently can only detect motion.
Now, at the Utah Salt Flats, Blue Flash is quite pleased that the Speed Force has finally been sealed. Surprisingly, he feels better than he has in years, so he has his computer run a medical scan on himself. Turns out he has suddenly become 20 years younger, possibly because the Speed Force attempted to correct the incongruence of when two versions of Barry Allen existed in close proximity for an extended period of time. Whatever the cause, Blue Flash understands that this means he can pick up his old life just as he left it two decades ago.
Blue races home, where Patty Spivot has just finished cleaning up the bowl of cereal Barry dropped. Blue is overjoyed to see his long-lost girlfriend, and he swoops her up in a romantic kiss, causing the broken bowl to fall again. Patty is happy to finally receive some affection from her boyfriend, but she is shocked to his new costume that has the watch she gave him sewn into it. Blue lamely says he was working on it for a while and wanted something to remind him of Patty. She tells him the watch was intended to help him keep track of time as Barry Allen, and she shoves him off toward the bathroom to shower and shave before they'll be late for work.
At the Central City Police Department Downtown Precinct, Blue agrees to take Patty to a movie that night, as long as it isn't a horror — he says he sees enough bad things in real life and doesn't need it in fiction also. When Blue walks inside, he is pleased and surprised to see 12-year-old Wally West waiting for him. Apparently the teachers are off today, and since Iris is busy, she asked Barry yesterday to watch over her nephew (because Barry is never busy at his job).
Blue offers to take Wally on a tour of the place, but he's initially hesitant, due to his recent run-ins with the law. But Blue tells him to put the past behind him and only focus on the present. He drags the boy to the garage (after being reminded by Patty where it is), and Wally is quite impressed by the fleet of armored vehicles and helicopters. Wally is introduced to a man named Tim, who offers to show him how to take apart an engine one day.
Next stop on the tour is the crime lab, where Blue runs into Director David Singh, who is predictably angry with Barry for being late when they have so much work to do. But Blue catches his boss off guard by offering to take him on a double date to a Diamonds game sometime. James Forrest is shocked to see that Barry has seemingly forgot that Singh despises him. And when Forrest learns that Wally is the nephew of the even more despised Iris West, he asks Blue if he's looking for excuses to get fired now.
Blue sits down at his old desk, and tells Wally he's going to use science, not guns, to find the bad guys. He says he wants to find someone who always managed to stay a step ahead — the only one who ever escaped him — but first, he wants to go after someone he knows. Wally asks whether their database can find his mom, and he begins to cry as Blue promises to find her.
Later, Blue takes Wally to a coffee shop to meet up with Iris. Forgetting about inflation, Blue gives the kid $50 for a cup of coffee. Iris complains about being stuck writing about fines for improper trash disposal, but Blue wants to talk about Wally's mom. Iris believes she just saw a chance to ditch her family and ran off. Blue is a little taken aback by this attitude, but Iris says a career in journalism has shown her the selfish side of people.
Blue then slides Iris a piece of paper, containing a pretty huge story. Iris is shocked that boy scout would suddenly start leaking secrets, but Blue says this story is too important to go unreported. Iris is shocked when she reads the paper, and is thrilled at what the story will do for her career. Blue then heads off, promising Wally once more that he'll find his mom.
We check back in with the current Barry Allen. Once the robot turns its back on Barry and his savior, the shirtless man leaps out of the bushes and tears it apart with his knife. He shows Barry the inside of the sentry, which reveals it was created by LexWayne in 2317 (interesting to see that the LexCorp-WayneTech merger would create a company strong enough to last 300 years). Barry is completely flabbergasted to see something from the future (even though he just fought the future version of himself).
The shirtless man introduces himself as Selkirk, and says he knows a thing or two about speedsters. Barry finally figures out he's in the Speed Force (even though it looks nothing like the last time he visited it). Selkirk notes how the Speed Force was ruptured, causing all sorts of craziness in their world, but now it seems the rupture has been sealed. Barry suspects that's the reason why he's stuck here, but he's mainly concerned with where his powers went and how he can get home. Selkirk tells him he can't get home, and he leads Barry to his wooden fortress.
In Central City, Patty passes out with a glass of wine and a rom-com on the TV. Once she's asleep, Blue throws on his costume and races over to a young man's room that is decorated with posters of violent movies such as "Friday the 14th" and "The Joker II." Blue Flash vibrates through the wall, and gives the young man, Kyle, a very long-winded lecture that is more for the reader than for him. Blue talks about how odd it is to return to his work from 20 years ago and to talk with a friend he knows will die within the next year.
Blue Flash tells Kyle that he was the straw that broke the camel's back, the case that caused Barry Allen to lose faith in the justice system. In Blue's time, Kyle apparently killed eight people, but got off free on a technicality, despite Barry's best efforts as a crime scientist. From that point on, Blue decided to take matters into his own hands, and began to kill those he couldn't bring to justice. Kyle tries to defend himself with a gun, but Blue Flash easily catches the bullets and explains that he's going to take down every murderer who ever escaped justice. Blue Flash then kills Kyle by vibrating his hand through his heart.
It was slightly amusing to see future Barry struggle to adapt to life in the past. And I am curious to see which friend of his is going to die within a year. Is it Patty, Singh, Forrest? I could see any one of those happening. But that's about all the good I have to say about this issue. I did like Coelho's art for the most part, especially how he made Wally actually look like a 12-year-old. But he made Iris' hair too short and her breasts way too big.
Convenient transformation. Venditti and Jensen wanted future Flash to replace current Flash, so they did it. With very little explanation, they just made Blue 20 years younger physically. I guess if you're going to do that, then you might should also probably affect him mentally. I think it would make more sense that way, and it could be pretty interesting to see the future Flash deal with his fading, confusing memories and unexplained violent tendencies. And then the resultant confusion and self-doubt when the real Flash finally does come back. But instead, we get this awkward and haphazard instance of the writers trying to have their cake and eat it, too.
Iris West. Just how selfish has this woman become? All she ever does lately is look for excuses to dump Wally off on Barry and complain about her career. She used to be a sweet-hearted ethical journalist. But then she got a haircut (an apparently a boob job) and has become a complete jerk. If Venditti and Jensen are trying to set her up as Barry's next girlfriend, they are going about it in the completely wrong way.
The Speed Force. Instead of building on Francis Manapul's and Brian Buccellato's stylized vision of the Speed Force, this creative team threw that notion out the window and went with something much more generic and boring. And there's not even a hint as to why this version is different from the established New 52 Speed Force. There were also a couple of missed opportunities here, such as the return of the forgotten Turbine, or even making this mystery man the New 52 version of Savitar instead of some guy named Selkirk.
Final score: 2 out of 10
Next time, we'll take a look at the one and only non-Flash issue that acknowledges the future Barry, Green Lantern #38.