The Flash 19

Alternating Currents: The Flash 19, Drew and MikyzptlkToday, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing the Flash 19, originally released April 24th, 2013.

Drew: It’s hard to pick a favorite thing about The Flash. Is it the bright tone? The vivid, thematically rich art? It’s penchant for clever meta-commentary? In many ways, it feels like it was designed for the kind of nerdy dissections we do here at Retcon Punch, giving us everything we look for in a comic. Nothing brings that feeling about more than the specific pop-culture references this series drops from time to time. Things like having characters from LOST pop up randomly, or building an entire arc up to a single Planet of the Apes reference feel like they were designed rather specifically for my nerdy mentalities. Those references were fun, if entirely disposable — they amounted to little more than throwaway lines and background characters — but with issue 19, writer Brian Buccellato goes into full-on homage mode, giving us an extended Die Hard tribute that plays a key role in the plot.

Or is it just the plot of Die Hard? Barry is trapped in Iron Heights prison without his powers (which are currently zipping around the pages of Dial H), which means it’s one regular guy forced to take on an entire gang of armed-to-the-teeth baddies on his own. Of course, these baddies aren’t German thieves posing as terrorists, they’re the Outlanders, here to spring Trickster from his sorta wrongful imprisonment (he still broke the law, but is incarcerated in relation to a murder he didn’t commit). Barry makes up for his lack of powers by collecting the Rogues’ confiscated weapons from the evidence room, taking down groups of outlanders with Weather Wizards wand and Trickster’s stun bombs. Oh, and climbing elevator shafts and crawling through the ducts.

Barry McClane

Meanwhile, Albert — one of the guys who was given Speed Force powers after being stranded there — is attempting to take matters into his own hands. Unfortunately, the Outlanders rather quickly catch him, and his ability to turbocharge technology ends up making things easier for them. Thinking quickly (get it?) Barry, busts in, and uses Albert’s powers to freeze the Outlanders AND Marissa Rennie, who it turns out was behind the murder Trickster was wrongly accused of. Don’t remember who Marissa was? She was another of the folks stranded in the Speed Force — one we didn’t think had any abilities — which makes Barry suspicious of Iris.

That resolution comes about a little too suddenly — a feeling that is only exacerbated by the fact that Barry’s powers return at that exact moment — but the issue feels like such a riff on action movies, that the pat ending feels totally in place. In fact, we’re treated to an incredibly corny buddy-cop epilogue back in the watchtower, as Barry and Vic figure out just where Barry’s powers went.

"I made a funny!"

Short of a freeze-frame high-five, this couldn’t be more cliche, but that’s really the point. Sure, this scene takes care of acknowledging Dial H, but it’s mostly an excuse to cram in as many buddy cop tropes into a single scene as possible. Is one kind of goofy while the other is a total stiff? Check — Vic is literally mostly a robot. Are the two characters of different races? Check — again, Vic is mostly a robot…and black. Does the scene feature a totally cheesy moral that isn’t earned at all by the rest of the story? You bet.

This kind of tongue-in-cheeck homage might get kind of annoying as a series, but all signs point to this being just a goofy one-off, which I thought was a blast. De-powering Barry was a fun experiment, and a crossover with Dial H was an unexpected pleasure. A second epilogue — more of a post-credits teaser, really — shows the Reverse Flash killing (and maybe un-killing) Albert, but it feels like a retread of the ending of issue 17, which also featured a final-page reveal of the Reverse Flash. I suspect that Buccellato and Francis Manapul (who co-writes and draws those last two pages) simply needed a surprise to pimp on the fold-out-cover — a thought that I’ve unfortunately had a few times this month. Still, it was thrilling to see Manapul return to the artist’s chair — even if Marcio Takara was a fantastic match for the Die Hard scenes.

This issue is so unlike the rest of Buccellato and Manapul’s run, but I think that’s part of why it works so well. I’m such a big fan of this series, I’m kind of surprised that I liked this anomalous issue so much. Mik, were you as pleased with the action movie tributes as I was? Oh, and how long do you think it will be before we get a super-powered Iris West?

Mikyzptlk: “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs.” Die Hard is easily one of my favorite movies and is probably the greatest action movie of all time. To see even the tiniest reference of that anywhere is a treat, but to see that in one of my favorite superhero comics is almost an embarrassment of riches. The pop culture references seen in this title definitely add to this series, even if, as you say Drew, they are disposable. Even with that though, I couldn’t help but feel just a bit disappointed that we didn’t get more from Reverse-Flash in this issue. Can you really blame me though, who wouldn’t want to see more of this guy?

Awesome in Reverse

I’m referring to Reverse-Flash of course, but actually, this page is perfect as it features more than one character that I’ve become interested in following in this series other than the Flash. Let’s talk about Reverse-Flash for a second though. I still cannot get over this guy’s design. I love it! It is definitely the most fierce version of the character I’ve ever seen and even though we don’t get too much more out of the character we do get an interesting tidbit. The character asks the reader to believe that he’s actually a “good guy” that sometimes has to do a “little wrong.” I couldn’t help but be reminded of Hunter Zolomon, the Reverse-Flash that Wally West once faced. That Reverse-Flash didn’t consider himself a villain either, and tried to make the Flash a “better” hero by killing off members of his family. His twisted way of thinking led him to believe that tragedy made heroes better, and since next months issue of The Flash promises that this new Reverse-Flash will be going after anyone connected to Barry Allen, I wonder if this new enemy’s motivations will be similar to Hunter Zolomon’s. Either way, the peek into the motivations of the new Reverse-Flash may be quick, but it’s enough so that I don’t feel completely ripped off by the “WTF” cover.

With Reverse-Flash out of the way, let’s talk about the other character featured on the above image: Albert aka Turbocharger. First of all, the name is totally silly, but in a charming kind of way. I was sad to see him dead in the penultimate page of this issue, but relieved to see his death reversed on the last. Now, I’m not sure if Reverse-Flash means to kill him again which he could easily be implying, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that he doesn’t. I think Albert has a lot of promise as a character as he’s a bit goofy and completely unsure of himself, but he’s also shown to be brave in ways that he doesn’t even realize. I think that is something a lot of readers can relate to, even without awesome tech-enhancing powers.

I hope to see more of Turbocharger, especially considering that I believe he’ll have more company soon. Drew, you asked when I think we’ll be seeing Iris sporting Speed Force powers and I’ve got to assume the answer has to be soon. If the threat of Barry facing Reverse-Flash isn’t enough, imagine him dealing with that on top of a group of recently Speed Force-powered wild cards. To that I say, let’s turn it up to 11!

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

13 comments on “The Flash 19

  1. “DC Comics Proudly Presents Barry Allen” – that was my favorite part.
    The thing I love most about this series is that the art and colouring is FUN! For me only Wonder Woman and Bats Inc. can also claim that they have fun art in the new 52.

  2. I love seeing Barry use the Rogues’ old weapons, back from before they were superpowered. It’s a fun little reversal of the old dynamic between Flash and Rogues, now it’s Barry having to use goofy tech in lieu of powers. I wonder if there’s a future in Turbocharger using some of that abandoned tech.

    • I hope so. It was super effective in this issue. I really enjoy Turbocharger’s powers. I haven’t been able to explain to myself how they are derived from the Speed Force, but whatever. They are super fun and the Flash has already benefited from their use. Albert says the hero game isn’t for him in this issue, but as often becomes the case, you tend to become a magnet for weirdness once you get superpowers. Of course, Reverse-Flash might put an end to that altogether.

        • Well, they really did. Iris basically had normal super speed powers although Jai’s speed manifested….strangely as he sped up the development of his muscles to gain super-strength. I mean, that may be a bit of a stretch as far as Speed Force powers go, but it makes more sense to me that Turbocharger’s do.

          But like, if they never explain it, I won’t be too bothered. The Speed Force is a super-strange place and who knows what the hell else is going on in there! Maybe Albert has a metagene and that, combined with the Speed Force energy, coaxed these strange powers out of him? Whatever…COMICS!

  3. In the pic I posted, Reverse-Flash says “Everything is easier the second time around.” He could easily just be referring to killing Albert or just killing in general, but what if he means that he’s been through all of this before? He can clearly control time, though to what extent hasn’t been addressed yet, so I’m wondering if maybe he’s gone through his plans before (or at least some version of them) and is now trying again? Idk, I guess that’d be pretty weird, but that last phrase of his just sounds like it could mean a whole lot more.

    • Getting the Flash and the Reverse Flash on the page together kind of opens up the world to ANY POSSIBLE CHANGE. I don’t know what my hopes or expectations are for these two, but I keep going back to Flashpoint, and the power these guys have for nuking timelines. Maybe Reverse Flash is doing this again in that he knows he’s about to have his N52 first-encounter with Barry. He knows he’s done it “before.”

        • Yeah, I get that it’s a different guy (probably not even from the 25th Century!) but I’d feel the same way if they introduced a new Superboy Prime – even if he’s a different dude, the persona has a history of altering reality WITH HIS FISTS.

          Incidentally, I would LOVE to see the return of Prime stuff. It’s just so wacky.

  4. Hey Drew, you’re right about those last two pages being tacked on for the fold-out cover; Buccelato has spoken in interviews about how he had to cut his issue short to accomidate the Reverse Flash scene when DC decided they were going to show him on the cover. I feel bad that he had to cut pages but that cliffhanger really is appetite whetting. Man.

    • WTF Cover Month has been a huge bust as far as I’m concerned. I’ve hated the odd occasions where they’ve given away the endings of books (Batgirl is a good example), I hate it when it’s a bait and switch (like Beowulf on DC Universe), I hate it when it’s a tacked on non-surprise (like here or Green Lantern New Guardians), and I hate it when it means that the cover proper is just a pointless half image (like Batwoman and Batman Incorporated). The point is, even when I was surprised, I wasn’t having fun with it.

      • I can’t agree with you more. I thought the industry had mostly grown beyond these gimmicks. I thought the 90’s foil-cover gimmick craze had pretty much shut down the practice altogether. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to see a comeback of all that garbage though considering Bob Harras’ 90’s roots.

      • I tend to agree, but I actually liked the surprises of DC Universe Presents and Batman Incorporated (though, yeah, the Batman Inc cover totally gave away the ending). That is to say, it wasn’t a total bust for me, but it is kind of weird to give away a surprise on the cover of a medium that tends to reserve those for the very end.

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