Exploring the DC NEW 52: FLASH back
THE FLASH #2 – 5 (DC COMICS) Story by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato. Art by Francis Manapul. Colors by Brian Buccellato. Letters by Sal Cipriano.
THE FLASH was not one of the initial NEW 52 books that I decided to give a three-issue trial. I picked it up on a whim and was pleasantly surprised by both story and art - - enough that I decided to follow it for a few more issues. I’m still reading this title. You can find my review of Issue #1 in the BC Archives for October 3, 2011. I was happy to learn that Barry Allen would be the main character / The Flash. Issue #1 opened up with an artistic rendering of The Flash’s powers that was both inventive and clever and set up a situation that could weigh heavy on Allen’s conscience as he considers the consequences of his quick thinking and acting. Read on for more observations . . . . . . .
Issue #2 continues the entertaining visualizations of The Flash’s speedy powers by Manapul in a 3-page, wide-screen-paneled opening confrontation with Mob Rule in which Barry takes down 21 of the gang members before they can even finish responding to his spoken challenge. New friend Dr. Elias completes his study of The Flash (on a treadmill), confirms that Barry is tapping into the”Speed Force” but also reveals that his mind is only using a fraction of the available energy. New concept by Manapul and Buccellato here - - Barry isn’t “thinking fast enough.” Double kudos to Manapul and Buccellato for tying this concept into the current neuro-science of “augmented condition.” (Extra kudos to BC blogger Jeff M for writing about this subject in 2011 and citing some comics utilizing augmentation in their storylines.)
What follows this are seven pages of exquisitely-detailed examples of Barry putting his quicker processing power to the test as he barely hears what Patty and then Iris are telling him while he visualizes multiple images of events yet to occur (accidents, crimes, etc.), “weighs every possible outcome”, then “make the right choice” and “do something about it” . . “before anyone even notices.” He seems to miss hearing the equally important news from Patty that it was a clone of his friend Lago that expired. Yet we learn later in a conversation with Iris West (now an investigative reporter) that he absorbed this data as well, as he tells her that The Flash didn’t kill anyone. Buccellato’s colors are right-on for these images, as he mutes the background with washed out mauve tones and accentuates the smaller, tight panel overlays that depict all the images in Barry’s mind in vivid colors that pop off the page. Yeah, that’s the way I like it! These same muted colors are also utilized later in the story for flashback scenes between Barry and Lago. There is a connection between Manuel Lago’s past CIA experiences and his connection to Mob Rule - - the gang that resembles 1,000 versions of Lago. I’m trying hard not to tell the whole story here and spoil it - - but this involves several over-lapping events in the past and present that involve “genetic recoding” – “clones” – “regeneration” and “unexplained deaths.” Oh yeah, and “pigs” as well. Damn straight I’m going to pick up the next issue!
If I have any beefs with this title, it would be the mostly uninspiring covers that do little to hint at the amazing contents inside. That is made up for with some great concepts for the covers of Issue #3 and 4 (shown here). Issue 5’s cover is back to uninspiring, although it does a better job of indicating what goes on inside the pages.
Events occur in Issue #3 that are going to seriously ramp up the workload for The Flash in coming issues. Iris gets to the root of the recent city-wide blackout as she interviews a dangerous criminal at Iron Heights prison. Meanwhile Dr Elias pinpoints the recent power outage in the twin cities to an electro-magnetic pulse. Unfortunately, he wanders right into the enemy camp. Barry finds his friend Lago but has a headache of his own to overcome.
The art team excels once again in Issue #4 with several double-page spreads detailing the origin of Manuel Lago and his special abilities - - plus the beginnings of Mob Rule. (Quite a concept. Won’t spoil it for ya. You should read it.) There is some great symbolism as the flashback ends and we see the various panels being bordered by the stark black outline of the Tree Of Life. I’m really enjoying the cool and clever little touches like this throughout this title. We also learn of another brand-new ability that can save Barry in the clutch. And, like all good writers Manapul takes a decent stab at explaining the science of why it works.
Issue #5 is the wrap-up issue that concludes the Mob Rule story - - and it’s explosive !! In many wide-screen panels that overlap the centerfolds The Flash takes on Mob Rule and whittles them down. We learn yet even more complications and consequences of the Speed Force power, with such implications that Dr. Elias implores Flash to consider “destroying the Speed Force” ! Up next - - Captain Cold and The Rogues. Damn straight I’m going to pick up the next issue !