In Review: The Flash #39

Outstanding story and visuals that have me racing each month for the next issue. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: A pair for you to chase down. The Main cover is by interior artists, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse (doing pencils, inks, and colors, respectively). The Flash is hanging from a cliff, being saved from the abyss only from the helping hand of Selkirk. The Scarlet Speeder’s legs are kicking frantically, trying to find a foothold so he can race up the mountain before the quetzalcoatls take a bite out of him. Excellent cover that nicely teases a scene that occurs within. Why can’t all covers be this detailed and exciting? There’s also a Harley Quinn Variant cover Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts with the Flash wondering what Harley’s up to: she’s in a Roman chariot with five cheetahs attached to the leads. She’s raring to go, while her animals yawn and preen while waiting. Funny cover with excellent coloring, but DC is overdosing on Harley, so I would have preferred a different theme for this variant. Overall grades: Main A+ and Harley Quinn Variant B+

The story: “Power Loss” by Robert Venditti and Van Jensen has a wonderfully tense story. Why? Just as things heat up for one of the Flashes, the story transitions to the other Flash, and the same occurs for that Barry. It’s a constant case of hyping up the reader, and moving elsewhere at the highest point of action. The issue opens with narration from Overload, the creepy top hatted character who’s been making appearances in this book for a few issues. It’s revealed that he felt the best during Forever Evil’s Reign of Villains since there was no electricity in use. It seems that any electronic use puts him in hell. The return of the heroes returned the buzzing. “A hundred years ago, Id’ve had a peaceful life. Instead, I was tortured. How was that fair?” He’s refusing to suffer anymore, “I’m going to feel good again…” and the citizens of Central City are going to pay. Nearby, Iris goes into a book store to make contact with her source from the police station so that she can find out what’s up the Flash’s violent tendencies. She meets Patty (and take a ganger at what she’s looking at!), who can’t believe that the Flash almost slit Napalm’s throat (in the previous issue). She reveals to Iris that a body of a college kid came into the morgue recently and his heart had been shredded internally. She now has concerns that Iris may be right about the Flash being a killer. At the morgue, Future Flash Barry Allen has made a discovery in his pursuit to prevent Overload from killing hundreds, but someone interjects their way into his search. Meanwhile, in the land of the Savage Speed Force, the Barry Allen fans know is trying to get to a structure with Selkirk and a few others’ help. Things don’t go easily, as shown on the Main cover. Two surprises put both Flashes’ fate in jeopardy, with two villains revealed. I don’t know how much more tension Venditti and Jensen can ratchet up on this book, because I’m already at 11. This is one of those stories which leave the reader wondering, ‘How can they get out of that?” I love and hate this writing pair for putting Barry, and me, through the wringer. Overall grade: A+  

The art: I’ve raved about the visuals from penciller Brett Booth and inker Norm Rapmund, and this book is no exception, but now I’ve got a perfect example to justify my claims for the uninitiated. Look at Page 3 where Iris walks into the bookstore. It’s a lavishly illustrated scene with a myriad of book spines showing on the tomes. When combined with the character of Iris, it’s overwhelmingly detailed. But here’s the clencher: several spines have titles. And the comic books have titles. Someone needs to see if one or both of these gentlemen is channeling the Speed Force to put this insane detail into the books. Who thought a book store could be lush? Don’t even get me started about the land of Speed Force. It’s stunning: the environments are to die for, and the creatures, such as the quetzalcoatls, are ready to kill. Page 15 was my favorite. I’m a sucker for anything looking like a lost civilization, and this was that to a T. All I needed was Indiana Jones music and I would have passed out. The design of Overload once he powers up is impressive. His look recalls the classic imagery of Carmine Infantino. The final page is how to do double the thrills in one splash to perfection. Every page has some hidden treasure among the awesomeness of the characters in the forefront. This book beautiful! Overall grade: A+

The colors: Andrew Dalhouse puts a perfect bow on the visuals of this book. Yes, the art is good, but the colors make the visuals come to life. Look at the powerful colors coming out of the characters on the first two page. I’m sure the original black and white art shows this well, but Dalhouse makes these individuals epic. Look at the work he did with the floor of the book shop–that’s right, the floor. How many other colorists would make the floor of a scene look so darned cool? The skies of the land of Speed Force are amazing. I wish the skies in my town looked like that at night (minus the flying dinosaurs, naturally). The coloring on Future Flash when he’s in motion continues to be exciting and riveting; it’s similar enough to the familiar red and yellow streaks on the traditional Flash, but different enough to always create focus. The panel where the supervillain unleashes on Page 19 is fantastic. Readers should don sunglasses to look at this page for a while. Dalhouse’s skills shine as brightly as his coloring. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene setting, dialogue, opening title and credits, yells, screams, and sounds are all created by Pat Brosseau. Comic books are so much better when there are big sounds to accompany the action, and I’m so glad that DC Comics continue to do this, because this wouldn’t be half as exciting when the dinosaurs attack if Brosseau hadn’t been allowed to have them screech. Overall grade: A+

The final line: I feel like such a fool. I’ve only been following this book for six months, and I should have been following since this creative team took over. This gives you everything you want in a super hero book and more. Outstanding story and visuals that have me racing each month for the next issue. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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