New 52 Review: The Flash #1
In the real world, there's plenty of blame to go around if you don't like the DC reboot. But in the DC Universe itself, Barry Allen AKA The Flash has only himself to blame for f***ing up his world and even his own personal timeline. It would actually be nice to see some acknowledgement of that from Barry himself, but there's none of that here. I doubt that Barry even remembers being married to Iris West.
It's probably for the best that The Flash #1 basically ignores Barry's return from Flashpoint and just jumps into a new story altogether. Sure it's a cliche to say that the series hits the ground running, but how else would you describe a hero who takes out most of the issue's villains during his introductory double page spread in panels formed from his name?
Although it's not unusual for artists to be writing their own books at DC, Francis Manapul actually shares the scripting job with his colorist, Brian Buccellato. Above all else, The Flash #1 is an artist driven book and it looks phenomenal. Although some of Manapul's pages with Barry Allen out of costume look a little sketchy, the sequences of the Flash in action more than make up for that. From a visual stand point, Manapul and Buccellato seem to have an innate sense of how to make the Flash's powers seem dynamic on the pages.
If only they had as much luck with Barry Allen, who is historically one of the most boring secret identities in comics. He's a great Flash, but every time Barry Allen is out of costume it feels like we're just marking time until he suits up again. The last Flash series seemed to give Barry a more exciting spin on his police forensic work by trying to add a CSI vibe; which Manapul and Buccellato continue here. And it has to be said that the only time it works is the single page that Barry spins as himself using his powers to speed along his lab work.
As for Barry's personal life, he's not even dating Iris at all in this new timeline. Instead, he's dating a coworker named Patty Spivot. It's ironic that Patty remarks about Iris coming on too strong when it seems like Patty's being shoved into the romantic relationship just to keep Barry and Iris apart. Using a Spider-Man analogy, Patty is the Carlie Cooper to Barry and Iris' Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson.
Even with the new romance, Barry is still pretty dull when he's not the Flash. And the writers seem to realize this by keeping Flash in costume for most of the issue and by the chase scene late in the book which has Barry running from villains as himself while trying to find a way to slip away into his heroic persona.
The robbery to open the issue was pretty entertaining, but I'm not as sold on the rest of the story; which has Barry feeling guilty about possibly being responsible for the death of one of his friends during the botched getaway. I'm not sure if the friend was a new character created for this series, but he definitely seemed tacked on to Barry's coattails. So when the same friend shows up alive in Barry's apartment and leads him into the cliffhanger ending, there just wasn't much of an impact.
Overall, the writing is a little shaky, but it's a lot better than we've gotten out of some of the professional full time writers during the new 52. Manapul and Buccellato appear to have genuine affection for the Flash and his world. So there's every chance that they will get better as time goes on.
But you can't miss this artwork. It really is something special.
Crave Online Rating: 7.4/10