Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Flash 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Spencer: Speedsters aren’t generally known for their patience. Before the reboot, one of Wally West’s best known qualities was his impatience, and Impulse was the ADHD poster-child; over at Marvel, Quicksilver’s attitude problem canonically comes from the frustration he deals with daily when he’s forced to interact with people who move so much slower than him. My point is, Barry Allen’s methodical, patient lifestyle is the complete antithesis to most speedsters — to use a comparison this issue makes itself, Wally is a basketball fan while Barry’s a baseball fan. The more I read this issue, the more I realize that Barry is the kind of guy who genuinely enjoys slowing down because it means he gets to spend time with the people he loves. It’s what grants him more patience than other speedsters, but it’s also aggravating his greatest flaw; Barry cares so much that he’s trying to be everywhere at once, help everybody at once. It’s an impossible task even for the fastest man alive, and in the process Barry may just be driving away the people who make it worthwhile to slow down in the first place.
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing The Flash 31, originally released May 28th, 2014.
Patrick: Because I spend a fair amount of my time writing about superhero comics, I end up having a lot of conversations about reboots and continuity and “fixing” timelines. You’ll notice that we tend not to dwell on those sorts of things in the actual content of these pieces — we always try to focus on the 20 pages in front of us, and not the uncountable pages that came before — but I’m of the opinion that retcons don’t actually work. If DC were to wipe out the New 52 with the Anti-Monitor next week and launch the old DCU the week following, writers, artists, press and fans would all have the last 3 years of storytelling informing their views on the characters. It’s just like how Aquaman may not have a mini-trident for a hand right now, but that will always be part of who the character “is,” even if it’s not part of who the character “is right now.” But we’re all fascinated with those universe changing mechanics, which is how The Flash 31 upstages itself with a history-altering Future Flash, when the more important character work is happening right now. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing The Flash Annual 3, originally released April 30th, 2014.
…at the end of the day, the Flash is still the same tone as it was before. It’s still the same character, but kind of just reinvisioned.
Drew: The above quote isn’t about Robert Venditti and Van Jensen’s new run on The Flash — Manapul was actually speaking about the start of his own run back when I interviewed him in 2012 — but it might as well be. That a statement can be used to describe a new take on the character as well as the newer take that succeeds is is a universal truism in comics, but it also speaks to an innate truth about the Flash: he needs to move forward. Of course, Jensen and Venditti aren’t privy to the clean break that started Manapul’s run, and have thus needed to address Barry’s past as much as his future. Fortunately, they are also paying attention to this series’ history of meta-commentary, addressing their own creative baggage right on the page. Of all the things they could have ported from the previous run, this is my absolute favorite, injecting The Flash Annual 3 with a sense of rebellion.
Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing The Flash 25, originally released November 27, 2013.
Scott: Have you ever said goodbye to someone outside a restaurant and then proceeded to walk down the street in the same direction as them? It’s weird. That’s what I was expecting out of The Flash 25, since writer/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are back one last time after penning what felt an awful lot like their farewell issue a month ago. But rather than an awkwardly silent side-by-side walk to adjacently parked cars, this issue feels like a wake-up call. Manapul and Buccellato illustrate (I mean, literally illustrate) the reasons why I’m going to miss them. The issue is merely a tie-in with little significance to Flash as a series, but when these guys are doing the art (as they are for only a portion of this issue), they don’t need much story to turn out something great. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing The Flash 24, originally released October 23rd, 2013.
Drew: Endings are hard. Part of it is simply that people tend to struggle with goodbyes — we hate to let a good thing go — and part of it is that they’re inherently unnatural. Short of every character dying, there’s always more story that could be told (not to be confused with the story that should be told). Attempting to “end” a run in a serialized setting is doubly tricky, as a creator’s desire to wrap things up neatly is at odds with the fact that the story isn’t actually ending. Technically, Flash 24 isn’t Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s final issue on the series (their “last” issue is 25, and Buccellato is actually coming back for three more with Rogues Rebellion artist Patrick Zircher), but it features such a clean, unlabored assertion of their thesis, concluding their run while pointing the way forward for the series, it works beautifully as a farewell. Continue reading →
Oh, if I had just lived right up to that moment… and not one second more. That would have been perfect.
Walter White, Breaking Bad
Drew: Regrets are the worst. We make hundreds of decisions every day, but our minds seem only to fixate on the mistakes and missed opportunities. We fetishize how things might have been different if only we had made that one small change, creating entire life paths that never have been, never could be, never will be walked. If the regrets are small enough (I wish I had ordered the fajitas), we usually forget about them and move on, but larger regrets can consume us, creating a vivid fantasy world of “if only.” In “Fly,” a brilliantly mediative episode from Breaking Bad‘s third season, Walt pinpoints the exact moment where his life should have ended, with every moment since steeped in regret that it didn’t. It’s a surprisingly unguarded moment for the character, revealing that, for all his machinations, he may suffer from the same uncertainties — and be driven by the same simple motivators — as the rest of us. Daniel West finds a similarly specific final moment of happiness in this issue, but of course, he locates it with the hope of going back and undoing everything that follows. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing The Flash 23, originally released August 28th, 2013.
Shelby: It’s finally here: the reveal of the identity of Reverse Flash. Cruel, murderous, and the opposite of Barry Allen in every way, the Reverse Flash has been dogging this title for a few months now, killing Barry’s friends and honing in on our favorite speedster. Despite the fact we have been speculating and eagerly awaiting this moment, at the end of the book I found myself with more questions than answers.
Today, Scott and Spencer are discussing The Flash 22, originally released July 24th, 2013.
Scott: I imagine being the fastest man on Earth could be pretty frustrating at times. It has its obvious advantages — you’re never late for work, no car insurance, no travel expenses, etc. — but there’s one major annoyance: the rest of the world isn’t moving at your pace. This would be doubly frustrating for a police officer trying to solve a complex murder mystery, which takes a long time to piece together regardless of how fast your body moves. This is the predicament Barry Allen has found himself in over the past several issues of The Flash, and co-writers/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato seem to enjoy taking the slow road with a fast character. The Flash 22 finds them leading Barry to the killer he’s been looking for, but still withholding crucial information about his identity. It’s a spectacular looking issue, and one that feels more focused than this title has in a few months.
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing the Flash 21, originally released June 26th, 2013.
Spencer: A mystery story cannot work with only one suspect. Without false leads and red herrings, everything’s too easy; we know whodunit before the story’s even begun. In Flash 21, Kid Flash becomes one of those false leads; the problem is, Barry is the only one actually trying to solve a mystery here. Us readers already know that the Reverse-Flash is behind these murders, leaving the real bulk of this issue to be carried by the first meeting of Flash and Kid Flash. I’m not sure the two of them are up to the task.
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing the Flash 20, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Drew: Barry Allen is a man of contradictions. As a police scientist, he is beholden to rigorously examining every scrap of evidence before coming to a conclusion. As a speed-powered superhero, he is all about decisive action. I’ve always found the tension between those two extremes particularly relatable — who among us doesn’t vacillate between those poles? — even when the series itself has been heavier on the action. The scrutiny half of this equation has always come across in the subtext, as writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have hidden details throughout their runs that reward only the most vigilantly close readings. In The Flash 20, they graduate Barry’s detecting skills from subtext to text, but the results are decidedly mixed. Continue reading →