Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Flash #1 - DC Comics

THE FLASH No. 1, November 2011
Still reeling from the previous issue’s New 52 revelation that my thirty year collection of “The Flash” is now utterly worthless as “DC Comics” have decided to completely erase the third Scarlet Speedster Wally West from their universe, I was rather desperate to latch on to anything positive about Francis Manapul’s second contribution to this series as both writer and artist. Unfortunately when I put the book down I could not help but feel even more disheartened and disappointed with what was taking place within the boundaries of Central City.
For starters what has happened to the wonderful artwork which Manapul and Brian Buccellato have produced previously? Admittedly the majority of the story’s action takes place during the night, but the choice of drab colours throughout gives the whole comic a dour washed out look that is depressing to the eye. Even the panels set during the daytime, such as those within the Central City Police CSI laboratory, seem to lack any real strength of colour.
Manapul’s pencils also seem far less impressive than his earlier work, especially in his panels featuring a team of robbers. There’s something sketchy, hazy with the quality of his drawing that makes his artwork appear slightly indistinct, almost unfinished. This is particularly noticeable whenever a page is placed alongside an advertisement for another “DC Comics” title, such as “Superman” drawn by legendary George Perez.
Unfortunately Manapul’s storytelling skills appear as equally befuddling as some of his drawings. Indeed I was utterly confused when Barry Allen discovers his flat intruder is actually his old friend Manuel, as moments before we'd seen the character die. Foolishly I thought we were returning to the flashback montage of the two friends running together that had appeared a couple of pages earlier, so was totally perplexed when Barry suddenly changes into his Flash costume. It was only when the Scarlet Speedster encounters multiple Manuel clones, in the comic's final panel, that I realised we hadn't gone back in time again but were actually in the here and now.

I'm also rather dubious about the writer's interpretation of the Flash’s super-powers. I fully realise that in order to race vertically up the side of a tall building or dash across an ocean that Barry Allen must have a pretty elastic relationship with gravity. But how does having super-speed help him survive a fall from a helicopter by allowing him to plummet straight through a road surface into the sewer beneath without going splat? He even now seems capable of creating vortexes, similar to the Weather Wizard, which the Flash can use to throw people to safety...

N.B. In "The Flash" #3, January 2012, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato rattle off a list of Barry Allen's superpowers during an early two-page spread. Of relevance to my above moan these include his "... ability to vibrate through solid objects" and to create "vortexes." I remain unconvinced however as they also apparently include "...invisibility." 

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