In Review: The Flash #41

Familiar story elements bring this book down, but the visuals raise it up.

The covers: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dahlhouse provide the cover for the Main edition. This features Professor Zoom streaking by the reader with an absolutely maniacal look on his face that would do the Joker proud, holding up the empty suit of his nemesis the Flash. Behind him on a hill are five figures in silhouette. Who they are I don’t know, and this issue hints at who a few of them could be, but next month will most likely see them revealed. This is a sweet reintroduction of this villain, with the insane level of detail that regular readers of this book would expect from this trio of creators. The Joker 75th Anniversary Variant is by Eddy Barrows and Marcelo Maiolo. This is one of the better Joker Variant covers because it actually shows the villain and the hero of the book in a situation that could actually happen. This has the Flash stuck, hands and feet, in purple gum, whose wrappers are spiraling all over the image. On his back is the Clown Prince of Crime holding an enormous mallet, the weapon of choice of most clowns on covers these days at DC, and is about to bring it down on the hero’s head. Good and art and stellar coloring, with the light source creating an excellent reflection and shine on all elements in this illustration. Overall grade: Both A

The story: The first three pages of “Yellow” by Robert Venditti and Van Jensen opens “Soon” in Central City. A human wearing a an oversized mech-warrior suit that looks like it stepped out of the pages of Appleseed is confronting the Flash in the streets. “This is my home. You mess with Central City, you mess with the Flash.” The villain rakes a window open to urge the Flash to action, and the hero moves in to punch him at super speed. However, in the fourth panel time slows down and in the unbroken section of the window just ruined, the Reverse Flash appears and is soon racing around his opponent (– or is he?!?), with Barry unable to see or hear his ravings which include, “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to choke the life from you. But not yet. No…I can wait a little longer.” He leaves, time resumes, and the Flash takes a punch to the face. The scene then moves to the present, with Barry getting out of the shower, being startled by an individual that’s snuck into the bathroom. After this situation is resolved, Barry visits his father Henry, who’s serving a term in Iron Heights Penitentiary. The two share a conversation that will be very familiar to anyone that’s watched the CW’s version of this book. That was my problem with this book, and it’s an ironic one: three of the most dramatic pieces of this book, Zoom, daddy, and Darryl, were ruined for me by the television series. A comic book fan, and I’m no exception, wants the filmed version of their favorite heroes to be just like the comics. This is the opposite, the comic is just like the series in this regard. This made these elements of the book rather boring. Yes, there’s Flash’s conflict with the robo-dude in the opening, but it’s written off really quickly, and the elements of what happens with his father after Barry leaves the jail are just “meh.” I wasn’t keen on the reaction on Pages 4 and 5 — an Indiana Jones’ weakness? Though the fifth panel on Page 5 will need explaining later, as will the “lummox” usage. The ending allows the set up for next issue to occur, but that’s all this issue does — set things up. It’s okay, but wasn’t the “wow” that The Flash has been of late. Granted, my opinion of this tale might rise when I read the next installment. Overall grade: B-

The art: The visuals of this book are a “wow” factor, again, this month. I am wholly devoted to following penciller Brett Booth and inker Norm Rapmund’s work, which this title introduced me to. The familiarity of the robo-suit’s design is neat; I do like the mecha-manga look, and this costume definitely has that feel. I do wish the story could have allowed more for this suit to accomplish. Zoom only has four panels, with three having him smiling in the most villainous way, but I appreciated the one panel of calm and collectedness, which is how I prefer my bad guys. I like the layout of several pages of this book, such as the Barry – Henry scene, with several slightly tilted rectangles and parallelograms that emphasize the stressed conversation. Page 8 has the sensational introduction of a villain that’s new to me. He looks great and I love his arms. I want to see much more of this character. Another element that Booth and Rapmund bring to this book that’s fantastic are the speed lines ripping off characters. When the Flash and robo-thug do battle it’s impossible not to feel the speed coming off the pages. The last four pages show an exit, again employing the skewed panels, and with one character showing his metahuman ability. This looks great, though I did stop at the sight of clouds in the background. I don’t know if these were inserted by either man, or were put in by the colorist, but these do look like photographic inserts. They really stand out at the bottom of Page 19, and they did take me momentarily out of the book. I’d rather have a drawn element or a solid color than a photograph. Still, it’s only one panel, and it does not destroy my overall enjoyment of the art. Overall grade: A

The colors: I’m also really impressed with Andrew Dalhouse’s work on this book, as I am every month. Because the artists provide such a wealth of fine detail in their work, Dalhouse is given ample opportunity to do so with this work, and he does handsomely. The opening panel of the book uses bold reds to highlight the setting identification, a nice pale green to have the bad guy stick out against the ultra-pale brown buildings, while the hero is in gleaming red with bright yellow lighting streaking off of him. When the Reverse Flash appears the coloring dims on everything, especially on the Flash who goes into dark, burnt colors. Dalhouse does a really nice job with teal in the penitentiary to show individuals on the opposite side of the glass, and when characters say something with extreme stress their dialogue balloons are outlined in harsh reds. Page 16 has the best color work with reds being used sensationally for what’s being done. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, opening title and credits, groans, whistling, a transmission, and next issue’s tease are provided by Pat Brosseau. I really like the sounds on this book and am happy that Brosseau gets the opportunity to insert them. The battle with the armor clad antagonist has the best sounds; it’s impossible not to enjoy a good KLONK and KRONK. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Familiar story elements bring this book down, but the visuals raise it up. I’ll be back next month, to be sure. 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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