Monday, August 17, 2015

The Flash #39

Power Loss

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 cover is a true rarity for this creative team — it actually shows something that happens in this issue. Flash and Selkirk actually do scale a mountain and are chased around by giant pterodactyls. Of course, the Flash's costume isn't as beat up anymore, since he had it repaired. And the floating rocks in the background are more reminiscent of the Francis Manapul Speed Force than what we've actually been seeing lately.

Our story begins during the reign of villains known as "Forever Evil" in Central City. As Deathstorm, Multiplex, Hyena and Typhoon went around killing people at will, one person was actually happy. The man who would become Overload was thrilled by the blackout caused by the Crime Syndicate. With no TVs, computers, radios or phones, he finally put to rest the constant buzzing in his skull. His whole life he'd been living in chronic pain that doctors couldn't explain, until this brief moment of relief. But then the Flash returned and brought order back to the world. The blackout ended, and the buzzing returned for Overload, who finally realized what the source of his pain was. He became uncontrollably furious at his predicament, and accidentally discovered he has electrical powers. Now, still in Central City, Overload tells his horse, Alastair, that he can't suffer anymore and will put a stop to all the buzzing today.

Nearby, Iris West is talking on the phone to her editor, Dave. He's apparently having a hard time believing Iris' story about the Flash becoming a killer, but she asks him to trust her as he did with the missing bodies story, and says she has a source deep in the police department. Iris then heads to her meeting place with the source, who turns out to be Patty Spivot.

Apparently this isn't the first time these two have met in secret, although none of the previous issues dropped any hints of this going on. Anyway, Patty (almost hopefully) tells Iris that some witnesses said Napalm's severed arm was an accident. But Iris reminds her that she was on the scene and watched the Flash nearly slice Napalm's throat. She asks Patty for surveillance feeds and audio from interviews with Napalm, which Patty would be very unlikely to obtain, since she is just a blood analyst. Patty again has a hard time believing that someone who has given so much to the city would become a killer.

So Iris tries a new tactic, and asks Patty if there are any mysterious cases of injuries or deaths the Flash could have caused. As it turns out, Patty has just the case that meets that criteria. Patty tells the reporter about the recent case of the college kid Kyle, who had his heart pulverized. But Patty is quick to say it couldn't have been the Flash. Iris says that maybe the Flash was a hero, but people change — usually for the worse. Without giving too much away, Patty says she has ways of tracking the Flash, and she'll call Iris when he's on the move. If they're going to bring down the hero of Central City, they need hard evidence.

In the Central City Police Department central precinct morgue, the future Barry Allen is examining Overload's first two victims. In Blue's timeline, Overload killed hundreds before escaping in the chaos and was never brought to justice. Now, Blue vows to make things right. He finds that both the victims have some horse hair on them just as Patty walks in. He tells her he's noticed some similarities between one of the bodies Iris found and a recent homicide victim. Blue then abruptly says he needs to leave on "Flash stuff." Patty surreptitiously activates the GPS on her boyfriend's phone and hands it to him before he leaves.

In the savage Speed Force, a land beyond conventional time and space, the current Flash, Selkirk, and three others have begun their climb up the mountain. Suddenly, the group is attacked by quetzalcoatls — the giant dinosaur-birds on the cover. The climbers try to defend themselves with their futuristic weapons, but the twin brother Taylor is swept away by one of the beasts and gruesomely torn limb from limb by the other birds. Flash gets distracted by the carnage and is also captured by a pterodactyl.

Back in Central City, a large crowd has gathered at the public unveiling of some LexCorp broadcast towers that will create a citywide WiFi grid. Overload is in the crowd, preparing to make his move, and Blue is there, as well, planning to prevent the attack. It doesn't take long for Blue to find Overload, and he begins beating the crap out of him, blaming him for killing 207 people and frying all nearby electronics. Blue says this time he'll kill Overload, and someone nearby tells Flash he can't mean that.

In the savage Speed Force, Selkirk is able to save Flash by leaping on the back of the giant pterodactyl and shoving his knife through its neck. Selkirk regroups the climbers and prevents Johnnie from going berserk over the loss of her twin brother. The group soon reaches the top of the mountain, which contains a temple dedicated to the Speed Force. Flash is amazed at the detail of the hieroglyphics on the walls, saying they even surpass the ones he saw in Gorilla City. But as Flash studies the runes, he learns that Selkirk needed a speedster to act as a lightning rod for him to call down the lightning. Just when Barry realizes Selkirk intends to sacrifice him, he's knocked out from behind.

Back in Central City, we see that Patty has somehow caught up to Blue at the WiFi unveiling. She's accompanied by Iris, who is gleefully gloating about having the headline of the decade "Killer Flash" (which is actually a pretty weak headline in this journalist's opinion). Patty tells Blue that if that man is guilty of a crime, then he needs to be arrested, tried and convicted. Blue pauses for a second, but then says he's going to save everyone. Patty tries to stop him, but he roughly tosses her aside, spraining her shoulder. Realizing what he's done, Blue tries to apologize, but Iris rushes to Patty's side and tells Blue to stay away from her. Just then, the WiFi tower is turned on, and Overload goes nuts. He attacks the future Blue Flash, while Selkirk prepares to attack the current Flash.

The Good:

I really can't say there was anything I particularly liked about this issue. I guess I mostly feel relief that some of these story lines are finally beginning to wrap up. And I am very happy I only have one more issue of this creative team to cover.

The Bad:

Iris West. I want to smack her so bad! She is standing three feet away from someone about to commit murder and she is cheering about having the headline of the decade. Seriously?! Did Iris forget about all the Flash's heroics in the past? Did she forget how he saved her from the Speed Force? Is she choosing to ignore the battle against her insane brother, the Reverse-Flash, and the moment where she had super speed and worked alongside Flash? Has it completely escaped her mind that she was once asked to write a story on the Flash's brutality but chose to scrap it do to a lack of evidence, despite the growing public opinion to the contrary raised by Dr. Darwin Elias? Actually, the answer to all these questions is that Robert Venditti and Van Jensen forgot all these things and/or simply didn't care. For whatever reason, they're intent on making Iris the biggest jerk ever, and it's breaking my heart.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next: Flash and future Flash race toward the end of the road!

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