In Review: The Flash #22

Fun, but only a tease of what's to come.

The covers: A trio to chase after for this final installment of “The Button.” The Regular cover is by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson. It’s a terrific take of Flash Comics #1 from 1939 (though it’s dated 1940). The cover has caught fire, with the image of Jay Garrick burned out, replaced by a new image of the Golden Age character. He’s gone down to one knee and is looking at the reader sinisterly, his face in shadow, leaving only his eyes glowing. What’s left of the classic comic is badly damaged by age. This is great looking cover from Fabok, with Garrick’s image changed, and Anderson has done a great job with the colors, with this new image standing out with bright, dynamic colors compared to the older book’s colors. Really, really nice. There’s a Lenticular variant cover that goes back and forth between the Flash Comics #1 cover and this new, burned through cover, again by Faok and Anderson. Just as cool as the Regular cover and one worth tracking down. The final variant cover is by interior artist and colorist Howard Porter and Hi-Fi. If you thought Fabok had created a creepy looking Jay Garrick for his cover, get a load of what Porter’s created. Dang! It looks like Jay has climbed out of Hell! Primarily in black and white, this Flash has got a strong build and looks ready to tear someone apart. He’s standing among some type of mechanical debris with a tremendous amount of smoke behind him. There’s sparse color: the book’s logo is in color, the Flash’s chest logo in yellow, yellow eyes, and the energy whipping around him is in yellow and orange. This is awesome and intense! Overall grades: Regular A, Lenticular Variant A, and Porter Variant A+ 

The story: Racing through Hypertime, the Reverse-Flash, holding “the button,” is chased by Batman and the Flash, who’s using his cosmic treadmill to keep up with the villain. Thawne believes that the smiley faced disc will allow him to change the past. Threats against him mean nothing. “Empty threats to a living paradox. There is no future. No past. Until I decide to put it all back together.” When he utters these words, a gigantic blue bolt of energy separates the villain from the heroes. Barry continues the pursuit, not hearing his name called, but Batman does. The Flash discounts the voices as “siren calls of Hypertime.” Suddenly the treadmill begins to break up and the villain makes his play, he snaps his fingers which create a porthole, allowing him to exit and elude the protagonists. Thawne has arrive on several rocky plateaus, floating in space. Holding the button he commands its master to appear, and things go horribly awry. Joshua Williamson does a solid job with this final chapter, but there’s not much revealed. If anything, more questions are raised. What is cool is the voice that continues to call for Barry, who’s revealed on Page 8, saving the pair of Justice League members. If one has read the review of the covers, the identity of this person isn’t really a surprise. What is surprising is what’s said on 11 and 12. It echoes another speedster’s return at the beginning of the Rebirth saga, but it doesn’t have the same happy results. It certainly will whet a reader’s appetite to see more of him and his peers. Page 16 features a moment that was foreshadowed from the last issue of Batman. It’s cool, but it holds no tension, because everyone knows this won’t — can’t — last. 17 and 18 tease the identity of the creator of the Rebirth Universe, but fans will have to watch for his further appearances. The next three pages feature an epilogue, teasing November’s Doomsday Clock. These pages give this four issue story line a prelude feel, more so than a complete saga. That said, this was fun, though nothing is really explained. Overall grade: B+

The art: Howard Porter has created a wonderfully monstrous Reverse-Flash. The demonic smile he constantly flashes is delightfully full of smug self-confidence. The energy that whips off him, and Barry, is startling. Energy that constantly rips off the speedsters can be overdone or underused, but Porter makes it look deadly. The burst of energy that explodes on Page 2 is terrific, enough to terrify all three characters and foreshadow one character’s fate. Thawne’s escape on 4 is strong stuff and his landing on the debris is great looking. Given the satisfaction he’s had on this face for the previous four pages, the six panels that show the villain making an excellent emotional transition is perfection. The close-up in the third panel is great, showing his fear, and then pulling back in the fourth panel makes him look incredibly small and frail. The large panel on 5 shouldn’t be a surprise, if one has been following this saga, but Porter has this look horrific and stunning. As much as I like this, the full paged splash on 8 is amazing — that’s the definition of a hero’s entrance! His actions still makes my pulse race, while 11 and 12 break my heart without having to relive the painful dialogue: the visuals are enough to tear away a piece of me each time I look at them. The three pages that follow have some beautiful work done on the settings, with 15 having a great pulling back from the action. 16 will be a gut punch of Batfans, while 17 and 18 shows God’s arrival. The epilogue pages feature a twisted visual transition that will debated until November arrives. Porter creates power and drama sensationally in his visuals. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Hypertime would not look as strong as it does were it not for Hi-Fi. The colors are beautiful and chaotic as rose, blue, pink, and purple comprise the backgrounds. One would think that these would make the setting pastoral, but with the intense yellows, oranges, and reds coming off the speedsters make this look like an incredibly tumultuous environment. The portal that Thawne creates is a pale blue, which is a color not present in Hypertime. This color, used as a background, also makes the yellows of the Reverse-Flash’s costume really stand out. The violent action that occurs on 5 has gorgeous coloring, which makes the imagery all the more unsettling, because this should not be something one thinks of as beautiful. The bright colors on the hero arriving on 8 are spectacular, making the moment an exclamation point in the story. The colors on 12 are similar to the God of Rebirth, and I hope it doesn’t foreshadow pain for this hero. Pages 14 – 16 are colored well, but feature no bright colors, enhancing the solemn tone of what’s occurring. The yellow and reds of the epilogue will haunt readers long after this issue has ended, though. Incredible colors. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, dialogue, the story’s title, the book’s credits, sounds, whispers, yells, the font for the epilogue and the tease, and a quote and it’s source are crafted by Steve Wands. With visuals like this, a reader’s eyes are going everywhere to take in every inch. The letterer has got to be really careful not to cover any aspect of the art that might be considered necessary to the reader’s understanding of the book and Wands is aces in his placement of text. Additionally, his sounds are killer: Hypertime has got some amazing sounds that are a match for the big actions. Wands is excellent on this book. Overall grade: A

The final line: More of an introduction to a larger story than one that answers burning questions, this issue of The Flash is entertaining. The circle is complete, much like a button, but there is much, much more to be revealed. In November. A classic hero returns famously and the visuals are breathtaking. Fun, but only a tease of what’s to come. Overall grade: A-

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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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