In Review: The Flash #40

This is the hero book everyone should be reading. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Selkirk and his followers raise their arms in glee as the Flash, tied to an altar, has his chest erupt with the power of the Speed Force. Super illustration by penciller Brett Booth and inker Norm Rapmund with powerful colors by Andrew Dalhouse. I’ve been in love with the Savage World of the Speed Force and having the Flash shown in this setting with that blinding energy coming out of him is incredible. Great physical representation of the Speed Force without having the hero employ it. Overall grade: A+

The story: This is the climax of the saga begun five issues earlier when Barry was sent to the world of the Speed Force and Future Barry Allen took his place in the present to seek out a killer. He’s found Overload in Central City, with the villain’s powers up and running, killing anything that generates electrical noise, which is everything in a big city. Future Flash is battered aside by the foe, with Iris trying to stop him from harming more people. That’s when FF returns to the scene and punches Overload with a right. “You…You couldn’t survive that attack,” says the killer. “No one could.” Our hero reveals he built his suit to withstand the antagonist’s assaults, and that’s when Overload blows the electrical circuitry in Future Flash’s right hand. That appendage is gone, the bad guy is up and raving, and Barry says to Patty, “I thought I could fix the past–fix all my mistakes. But I only made everything worse.” At this intense moment, those monsters of the evil transition (cutting from an incredibly high point of action to go elsewhere) Robert Venditti and Van Jensen go to the Savage World of the Speed Force where the present’s Barry Allen is strapped to an altar with Selkirk about to sacrifice him. There’s never a dull moment in “The End of the Road,” which is what this is for both Barrys. This larger than usual issue is 26 pages instead of 20 and is worth every extra dollar. Selkirk’s rationalization for killing Barry is logical, in a sick way, and what happens when he stabs the hero is major. I really like what occurs, but can’t say anything for fear of spoilers. Ditto, for Future Flash who has to defeat Overlord with only hand. The solution to both stories is slick, with highlights being all of Page 12 (FINALLY!), the last panel on 15 (HOORAY!), the splash on 17 (YES!), all of 23 (?!?!?), and all of 26. Talk about leaving readers hanging! Really? No going back to this until June?! This is like showing children all of their wrapped Christmas presents on October 25. Spectacular fun! Overall grade: A+

The art: This is the most beautiful, highly detailed work on any superhero book on the market. Name any other book, it won’t come close to the pencils of Brett Booth and the inks of Norm Rapmund. Look at all the energy coming out of Overlord on the first page, the speed lines on Page 2, the lighting come off of either Flash when they run, the explosion on Page 4, the lighting on 13, and the final page. Ye gods! And look at the backgrounds! When something is not exploding or creating an energy trail, Central City is lovingly drawn. Check out the wall in the second panel on Page 5. I would have been ecstatic if Booth and Rapmund had drawn a full three hundred and sixty degree overview of this location, yet this one panel makes the setting real. The look of joy on the character’s face on 12 is perfect, which makes the reaction in the final panel just as strong. The exit on 23 is phenomenal–I can think of no other way this could look. And that final page…Wow! Just plain awesome. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Also going gangbusters on this book is Andrew Dalhouse, who must have had to consume copious amounts of coffee to color all the fine details of the art and create such smooth transitions in shades on characters. Case in point, Overlord’s skeletal face and hands are orange, while the energy coming off and out of him is yellow, but outlined in orange. He looks as if he’s radiating energy on the page. Several shades of blue are used on Future Flash–see Page 2 for the subtle changes in color within his costume. With all the energy flying about, it’s a wonder Dalhouse didn’t have a nervous breakdown coloring it. The best page is 5 because of the backlight on Selkirk and how it lights the room and the Flash. It’s beautiful. I love the shine on the villain’s cloak. Dalhouse is a coloring god. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, yells, opening title and credits, sounds, screams, untranslatable incantations, and phone texts are crafted by Pat Brosseau. I love the tremendous sounds in this book. Removal of sounds sadly seems to be the norm in most books these days, but Brosseau shows how they make comics epic. This is how all hero comics should be lettered! Overall grade: A+

The final line: An epic ending to an epic saga that concludes with a stunning cliffhanger. This is the hero book everyone should be reading. 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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