Monday, August 10, 2015

The Flash #37

The Savage World of the Speed Force!

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 is very shiny and slightly messy, full of the usual special effects that dominate this art team's style. As you can see, the future blue Flash is battling a new villain named Overload, whom he casually mentioned recently. But as is usually the case with this creative team, the cover doesn't really correspond with the story inside. The issue ends with a brief introduction of Overload — nothing close to a fight with the Flash, as the cover implies.

Our story begins outside the bounds of normal space-time, with the real, current Barry Allen being led into Selkirk's fortress, which he calls the Outpost, the only human settlement in this patch of the Speed Force.

Barry is shocked to see so many survivors in the settlement, and Selkirk explains he's from the year 1911. He introduces Barry to Louise, a seamstress from 1762, and Doctor Leavell, from 2054. Once again, Barry is absolutely shocked to hear Selkirk mention anything from the future. Selkirk goes on to explain that time is frozen in the Speed Force. They live in perpetual daylight and never age. They don't know how long they've been there, but has been long enough for Joseph and Bev Okoro to fall in love and get married. But sadly, they're unable to have children in the Speed Force.

Barry then says exactly what I've been thinking the past few issues. He tells Selkirk he's been to the Speed Force before, but it looked nothing like this. Selkirk speculates that Barry's previous trip was to a different island in the Speed Force. He says they can see the other islands sometimes, but can't ever get to them. When Barry complains once again about being powerless, Selkirk says he might be able to help him with that. But before he can elaborate, one of the guards alerts them of an impending attack.

In Central City, Iris West decides to check out the news tip Blue gave her. She dresses all in black (but doesn't bother concealing her face) and cuts through a fence into a yard of dozens of refrigerated trailers. And each trailer is stacked full of dead bodies left over from the Crime Syndicate attack. Iris spends the next day chasing down the mayor until she learns that the city didn't have the manpower to process all the bodies, so they dumped them all into the trailers without even identifying them. Iris writes an amazing article capturing the coverup and the emotion from the hundreds of people who were never able to find their missing loved ones. Iris' editor, Dave, publicly congratulates her for the work she did, and refers to her as a "young reporter," even though she's been a reporter for about five years now. He also doesn't seem to know or care that Iris discovered those bodies through illegal means.

At the Central City Police Department Downtown Precinct, Director David Singh is furious over Iris' article, since it means his already overworked department now has an extra few hundred homicide victims to process. And the city's hasty dumping of the bodies broke the chain of evidence, making them that much harder to identify them and determine who killed them. Blue volunteers to take on the whole case by himself, and Singh warns him about the building media frenzy around it. Blue says he'll be able to handle it, but Patty Spivot pulls him aside, worried that he's taking on too much once again. Blue says he plans on using his super-speed to process all the evidence, but Patty says they still have a lot to do with their regular jobs, including a bizarre new case.

Patty explains that a grad student at Cather College was found dead in his dorm room. Other students reported hearing an argument and gunshots, but there were no injuries on the victim, and his door was still locked from the inside. Patty asks Blue to help her crack open the mystery, but he takes one look at the case file, and declines. Blue points out that the victim's hard drive was full of diatribes about his fellow students, and his plans to kill them. Blue flippantly asks who cares how the man died, which shocks Patty. She asks her boyfriend if he still cares about truth and justice, but he coldly replies that justice has been served. (And if there's any confusion, the victim they're talking about is Kyle, whom Blue killed last issue.)

Patty apologizes for Barry's behavior, then assists Jane in Kyle's autopsy. Jane reports only a few bruises on Kyle, and can only surmise that his heart suddenly stopped beating, which is odd, since he seemed healthy enough. Once Jane cuts Kyle open, she and Patty see that his heart has been pureed. Patty says she's seen this once before on one of the Reverse-Flash's victims. But she knows Daniel West is still locked up in Iron Heights, and the Kid Flash of the Teen Titans seems to be a hero.

In the savage world of the Speed Force, Barry is armed with an old-fashioned handgun to help fight off the attack. Suddenly, the gate bursts open, revealing the attackers to be people riding dinosaurs and animals that have been augmented with robotics. Selkirk takes out an elephant with a Blastmaster 3 from 2236. But the futuristic rifle needs to cool down for a minute, and during the skirmish, Selkirk is hit from behind by a large prehistoric bird. Barry saves him by shooting the bird in the head.

The attackers are repelled, and Selkirk explains they were paleo-Indians, who have become bolder in their attacks since domesticating the monstrosities the were riding. Selkirk tells Barry he's good in a fight, and he offers a place for him to stay in the Outpost. Barry appreciates the offer, but says he needs to return to his life and is eager to get his powers back. Selkirk says it won't be easy, but they'll probably be able to help him regain his powers by taking him to the top of a tall mountain and try to call down the lightning.

In Central City, Blue has taken Patty out to a fancy restaurant to dine on swordfish. But Patty is still mad at him for his callous behavior earlier. Blue admits he was out of line, and says he's frustrated with the knowledge that he'll never be able to bring all the victims' killers to justice. Patty says she gets frustrated, too, but that doesn't excuse him for acting like a jerk. She then tells Blue how her mystery victim had his heart torn apart, likely from a speedster, but she thought everyone who had been to the Speed Force had been stripped of their powers (or killed by Reverse-Flash). Blue promises to look into it, but says he first wants to spend the evening with his girlfriend.

Blue and Patty head home, walking past a dark man in a horse and buggy. A fancy businessman hires the carriage to take him to his car on the other side of the park. But the businessman ignores the horseman's no cellphone rule, and loudly prattles away. The horseman becomes very angry, and lightning shoots out from his eyes. The businessman is then blasted by a large surge of energy, which explodes his phone, strips the flesh off his hand, severs his arm and leaves the rest of him charred to a crisp. The villain, who is sure to be Overload, rides away, telling his horse, Alastair, that he can't stand people's chattering and buzzing, and he'll soon silence all of them.

The Good:

I do like that they finally addressed the difference between this Speed Force and the one we've seen previously, although I'm not entirely satisfied with the reasoning we were given. And I was happy watching Patty investigate the murder of Kyle, although I don't remember the Reverse-Flash ever liquefying someone's heart like that. But it was logical and consistent with his character to see the future blue Flash's reaction to this investigation, and his apology dinner with Patty later. So there were a few nice moments in this issue, but nothing that really excited me.

The Bad:

Iris West. At least she didn't come up with a stupid excuse to have Barry babysit Wally in this issue. But I am very disappointed that she broke her big story through illegal activity. I understand it is a huge, bone-rattling story that absolutely needs to be told. But did she have to break into the place with bolt cutters and everything? She's already strayed away from the being the ethical journalist we first met in the New 52. Now she is straight-up breaking the law and not facing any consequences for it. This probably bothers me a little more than most since I am a journalist, but I am going to lower this issue's score because of it.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next: Meet Napalm, the world's worst rogue!

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