In Review: The Flash #44

Excellent story and art that you'll speed through.

The covers: The Flash is on the ground, trying to find the strength to get up and do battle once again with the villains, under the leadership of Professor Zoom, that put him there. Bravely, or foolishly, Wally West steps between the hero and the villains to protect his hero. This could be very bad for the teen. This cover is by Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse. There’s a lot happening on this cover and it’s hard to find the focus. I’m drawn to the title first, but then look to see where the Folded Man’s appendages lead off to. I eventual find myself going to Zoom, but then lose track — look at the odd device he’s on or the other characters around him? Wally gets somewhat lost in the image, only to be found because of his shirt color. It’s a pretty crowded image in the bottom half. Less villains might have made this a better cover. The Green Lantern 75th Anniversary Variant is by Wes Craig and Nathan Fairbairn. A youthful looking Flash is running with a smile on his face that’s as big as that of the Yellow Kid’s. He carries a Mother Box in his left hand as he’s being pursued by several parademons. Above him is John Stewart, looking solemn. The action is occurring in space before a beautiful ringed planet colored violet and pink. I’ll give Craig credit for the point of view that’s carried off well, but Barry looks more like an old school Kid Flash, and why John and not Hal for the anniversary? The coloring is impressive at least. Overall grades: Main B+ and Green Lantern 75th Anniversary Variant C+

The story: Two thousand feet deep in the Pacific Ocean the Flash is drowning. His plight to survive is narrated by Eobard Thane, the Reverse Flash. He relishes in stating how broken and confused the Scarlet Speedster will be. He states, “I want him scared. Confused. Angry. And I want him to bring all those emotions home. To Central City. My city!” The Flash runs as fast as he can to Central City, and he is angry. Robert Venditti and Van Jensen have a lot going on in this issue. Barry’s dad has been captured by Thane who’s using him for some nefarious purpose. There’s some good character development with a foe and superior to Barry, as well as Wally trying to make peace with Mr. Allen. The final ten pages of the book have the villains calling out the Flash to destroy the city (Would it be any other way?), by using a device that will level it (it’s the doo-hickey on the cover that Thane is atop). A fight breaks out, things happen, someone may have just gotten an origin story, and something major happens on the last page. Readers will either think this issue goes too quickly or that there’s too much going on to follow closely. It’s The Flash, so try to keep up. Overall grade: A

The art: This issue is also jam packed with an unbelievable amount of details in the art, penciled by Brett Booth and inked by Norm Rapmund. The opening page is a splash of Barry holding his breath down in the big blue. Rather than have him flailing about, Booth and Rapmund have him surrounded by an incredible amount of bubbles which instantly alert readers that he’s drowning. Barry’s return to the surface has a really cool fourth panel on Page 3 that has his energy cranked up and he’s raring to go! There are a lot of panels in this book that are splayed out like a fan’s blades, the first being on 3. This continues throughout the book and gives the art a sense of motion even when the Flash isn’t on the page. Page 9 was a strong stand out for the details in the location that Barry visits in the first panel and the details put into a wall in the final panel. This last panel also looks good because of the slow dissolve around the panel. I’m used to seeing this pair of artists have full page bleeds for big panels, but this one sweetly dissolves making the moment that’s occurring very warm. Full page bleeds do appear when the Flash is squaring off against the villains and the visuals become really powerful. Look at the swirls that Dillon creates — they’re massive, and they create a nice contrast of force when paired with the speed force coming off of Barry. The double-page splash of Pages 14 and 15 is the epic scale battle of powers that fans scream for. The final four pages have a different force involved, and it, too, looks great. I can’t think of time when I’ve ever seen Booth or Rapmund take the easy way on this book; it always looks tremendous. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Colors are absolutely key in this issue of fast moving forces. Andrew Dalhouse does an impressive job on this book, starting with that drowning Flash opener with an incredible amount of blues and an excellent Flash costume that’s been tinted because of the water setting. The reds, yellows, and oranges on Page 4 make the reader nicely see the speed coming of off the title character. There’s some nice job with reds on 5 used on the identification boxes so that readers know who each villain is. The last panel on 9 has a flawless faded job on the wall that the two characters are looking at. Beginning on Page 12 the blues are absolutely sensational as Dillon goes into action mode, and the reds and yellows coming off of Barry are strong. 16 introduces a light rose color that becomes Barry’s priority and I was impressed with this choice because I thought it would blend too easily with Barry’s costume, but it doesn’t it; it looks great. The colors of the sounds on the penultimate page also look terrific. But that’s Dalhouse, isn’t it? He’s terrific. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, opening title, story credits, narration and dialogue (the same font), villain identification, sounds, yells, and next issue’s tease are created by Pat Brosseau. The sounds on this issue are really powerful, with those on the final four pages being the standouts of the issue. I also must praise Brosseau for the yells in this issue. The same font used for dialogue could have been used, just bigger for the exclamations, but instead an entirely different font is employed and it makes the yells so much better, and louder. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This issue moves at a pace that is the equal of its hero and it’s tremendous fun. A horde of villains versus one hero with the stakes massive. Isn’t what a super hero book should be? Excellent story and art that you’ll speed through. 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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