Spencer: Villains aren’t exactly known for their teamwork. Sure, they team up all the time, but it rarely lasts and never ends well; egos get wounded, agendas clash, and varying levels of morality get in the way. Just look at the Crime Syndicate over in Forever Evil proper; they’ve been keeping secrets and plotting against each other from the moment they reached our Earth, likely even longer. The only group of villains who have stuck it out for the long haul are the Rogues of Central City. What makes them different? Brian Buccellato and Scott Hepburn’s Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion 6 implies that it may just be because the Rogues understand the way the world works better than most villains.
Today, Spencer and Scott are discussing The Flash 23.1: Grodd, originally released September 4th, 2013. This issue is part of DC’s Villain Month. Click here for our coverage of Villain Month.
Spencer: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have put a lot of work into remaking Gorilla Grodd over the past couple of years. They’ve recreated Gorilla City and tied its existence—as well as Grodd’s ambitions—into the same source that powers the Flash. They’ve amplified Grodd’s powers and savagery. In many ways it’s worked wonders—Gorilla City has always been a beloved part of the Flash mythos, but now it also feels like it belongs in this world more than it ever has before—but despite all that, Grodd still came across as a bit of an one-dimensional character, obsessed with ruling and power and not a lot else. In The Flash 23.1: Grodd (what a mouthful!) Buccellato aims to change that by giving us a look into Grodd’s psyche and determining whether it’s destiny, evolution, or something else entirely that drives the gorilla. It’s surprisingly compelling.
Today, Drew and guest writer Pivitor are discussing the Flash 17, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Drew: “Move forward” are the words the Flash lives by — both the man and the title. We’ve seen both accept rather profound changes, from the newfound abilities of the Rogues to his own death, rolling with the punches where most superheroes (and their series) might work to return things to their status quo. At the same time, writers Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are ever committed to their own continuity, recalling and building upon details first mentioned months earlier. The fact that those elements don’t come into play until long after they are introduced gives the series a propulsive sense of forward motion, allowing it to build incrementally. Thus, issue 17 can resolve plot elements first established in issue 6, as the Rogues, Gorillas, and the victims lost in the Speed Force finally get their due. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing the Flash 16, originally released January 30th, 2013.
Patrick: We expect our heroes to bravely sacrifice themselves for the greater good. If we’re blessed with complex characters, we can even expect this of our anti-heroes. But what about our ancillary characters? With the smoke-screen of a superheroic battle for the fate of city, real-world sacrifices tend to go unnoticed. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato deliver plenty of that bombastic hero action, but bury under it the sad, frustrated story of Iris West. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing the Flash 15, originally released January 2nd, 2013.
Patrick: Whenever a writer keeps up several narrative threads at one time, one of us will say that he or she is “spinning a lot of plates.” It’s an odd metaphor. I mean — “juggling” works just as well to express the same thing and it’s a much more common activity. My friend Pete Pfarr had a KLUTZ book that taught him how to juggle, but there sure as shit wasn’t any KLUTZ book to teach him plate spinning. So what makes that turn-of-phrase so useful in describing the storytelling in The Flash 15? Possibly because we get the sense that the stories continue (the plates continue to spin) even when we’re not watching them. But I think the real reason we use the metaphor — and the only reason we’d want to see someone spinning plates (because: boring, amirite?) — is because we can’t wait to see what happens when too many plates are spinning and they all come crashing down. Boldly, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato give us just that. Continue reading
Drew: I’ve always seen postmodernism as inevitable. As someone who likes art, consuming art about art just makes sense to me. It’s quite easy to take commentary too far — forcing the art to far up its own ass to really be relatable — and while I have a special place in my heart for stories that do that, it’s much more satisfying when they can support a compelling narrative, as well. Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul nail that type of just-right meta-text time and time again, as Barry grapples with his relationship to his own identity, history, and even time itself. Their pacing and narrative style have remained fluid enough to accommodate all of these ideas, tying them back to Barry’s own experience of the world. Issue 14 continues the recent trend of expanding the scope beyond Barry’s subjectivity, revealing a rewarding complexity to the world he lives in. Continue reading
Drew: I like The Flash. It’s a crisp, fun, dense comic, full of endearing characters and incredible art. Reading it over the past year has been an extremely rewarding experience as a fan of comics. I also like liking The Flash. The fan community around this title, from commenters to bloggers to the creators themselves have been as open and inviting as anywhere in comics. Writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have been incredibly approachable, and willing to discuss all of the things that make me love this title so much. In many ways, liking this title has been as rewarding as reading this title, thanks to all the wonderful discussions we’ve had about it. For that reason, issues that fail to meet my (admittedly high) expectations for this title are especially disappointing, to such a degree that I lose any objective sense of how good the issue actually is; is it the issue, or is it me? Let that be the grain of salt you take when I say that The Flash 13 is one of those issues.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing the Flash 12, originally released August 22nd, 2012.
Patrick: Bad guys don’t make for the best teams. Hell, superheroes seldom make functional teams. 90% of team stories center around just how hard it is to put individual egos on hold and actually work as a team. Sometimes the group gels to confront a common, insurmountable enemy; sometimes they’re extorted into working together; and sometimes they seem to be the only people in the whole universe going through the same trials. But bad guys only get together for one reason: take down the hero. Right? Well, The Flash #12 has something to say about that. Continue reading
Drew: Since the reboot, The Flash (the title) has had an interesting relationship with its own history. In returning to Barry before any crises, before any sidekicks, heck, before any marriages, we get a sense that we know his future — even if it isn’t written in stone that this story will play out like the one we know. Writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have addressed this relationship to history in the very pages of the title in question, rediscovering, challenging, and subverting elements from Barry’s own past. This month, they address the notion of destiny quite directly, offering an ingenious solution that frees them up creatively, while still honoring the memories of long-time readers.
Drew: Last month, Patrick voiced some concerns about objectively judging this title. Maybe we want to like it too much to say whether we actually do. After putting this issue down a little disappointed, but deciding that it was brilliant before starting this write-up, one could conclude I’ve already crossed the line of objectivity. However, I’d like to make the case for why this seemingly eventless and exposition-heavy issue actually carries the torch of thematic unity that has made this title so fantastic.