The Flash 23

flash 23Today, 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.

Flash fight! As heroes and villains are wont to do, the Flashes chat about their motives whilst exchanging very fast punches. Reverse Flash explains that Barry and his speedster friends move time forward when they tap into the speed force, and that once they’re gone he’ll be able to reverse time. They race out of Central City, Barry taking the fight away from civilians and Elias following on his motorcycle, still trying to shoot them with his speed force gun. Meanwhile, Patty leaves the DNA sample on the evidence percolating so she can go to her parents’ anniversary party. She heads out, and Iris hangs out at the station. The evidence finishes processing, and the killer’s identity is revealed! And it is shocking. So shocking, Iris begins to cry and channel the speed force, transporting her very quickly to the Flash fight. Reverse Flash is just about to shoot flash with the speed force gun, when she throws herself in front of him, to save Barry from…her brother, Daniel West. Iris is badly hurt, possibly dying, so the two Flashes go at it with renewed vigor. Daniel pins Barry down and sucks the speed force out of him, reassuring his sister that he would “change everything.”

See what I mean about more questions? The biggest, fattest question of them all is, of course, how did Daniel West become the Reverse Flash? He’s been in jail since the zero issue, right? So, somehow he got out and got himself associated with the reverse speed force; did it happen when Dial H borrowed Barry’s powers for a bit? The one thing that’s no secret is why he wants to do it. We know he’s got a checkered past and a less than ideal family situation; if I had a far rougher life than I have and was given a chance to reverse time and change things, I can’t say I would say no. Happily, both Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are behind the wheel for the Reverse Flash book during Villains Month, so maybe we’ll get some answers then.

Both of these guys really pulled out all the stops on the art this issue. Manapul’s panel work is especially dynamic, which is so perfect for a speedster book. Buccellato’s effervescent colors shimmer off the page when he tackles speed force effects. Both are in full effect when Daniel accidentally shoots his sister.

iris, barry, and danielNot only do we have a beautiful and visually interesting layout and GORGEOUS inks, the depth of emotion on each of the characters faces is incredible. The concern on Iris’s face, the shock and confusion on Daniel’s, the anger on Barry’s, followed up by his anguish: the acting is outrageously good. It seems Iris is still alive at the moment, but neither she nor Barry is doing super well. If she dies without the two of them getting together, that will be the ultimate romantic tragedy. It could also spurn Barry to somehow tap into the reverse speed force or to even help Daniel reverse time somehow to undo it. A lot of intriguing possibilities revolving around the relationships between these three.

The one relationship that was a little disappointing to me this issue was Barry and Patty’s, specifically the way Patty was such a sadsack that Barry couldn’t make it to her party. Honestly, this is why I don’t totally understand why civilians date superheroes; you have to know their masked duties will take priority, right? It’s like dating a police officer, but instead of being on duty to fight crime, you’re on duty (constantly) to save the world. There’s nothing wrong with not being ok playing second fiddle to that sort of situation, but then why would you put yourself in that situation at all? Patty seems more mad that Barry is missing her party (which is admittedly very important to her, and a justifiable reason to be mad any other time) than concerned that he’s not only on the hunt of a murderer, it’s a murderer who’s got Barry’s name on his hit list. Come on Patty, I thought you were cooler than that! Be the bigger person!

Scott, what do you think about the Reverse Flash reveal? Were you excited to finally know his identity, or frustrated by not knowing anything BUT his name? I won’t lie, I felt a little bit of both.

Scott: I can see how it’s frustrating; aside from the one big reveal, there is astoundingly little information given out in this issue. It would have had a similar effect if it had just been 20 pages of Flash and Reverse Flash fighting with the words “Daniel West” printed on the last page. But that’s also why I’m excited. It’s rare for a comic book to successfully pull of a surprise reveal like this — the casts are small enough and the wait between issues is long enough that eventually you get around to suspecting just about everyone. But Manapul and Buccellato kept Daniel West on the peripheries of this title for just long enough that the reveal came as a shock to me. I don’t know how Daniel came to possess Speed Force powers, but that’s worth a story of its own. And the timing couldn’t be better; Manapul and Buccellato have set up a Villains Month issue that will actually provide vital information for understanding the ongoing arc.

And, let’s be honest, this issue is all about that fight between Flash and Reverse Flash. It doesn’t take much dialogue or narration to understand what’s going on here. Barry pretty well sums up all we need to know in the first panel: “Bad guy tries to do a bad thing, good guy stops him.” That’s all there is to it (well, we’ll have to wait and see about the “stops him” part). As a result, 80 percent of this issue is devoted to Flash and Reverse Flash kicking each other butts across Central City and beyond. Manapul shows no regard for the fold, with two-page spreads dominating the issue. This title is known for his creativity in depicting super fast action sequences and, in that respect, this might be the Flash-iest Flash ever. How do you show a fist fight between two guys moving faster than the eye can see? Freeze frames, of course.

Just hit pauseKnowing now that Daniel West is Reverse Flash, I just have one question: if all he wants to do is reverse time, why wouldn’t Barry let him? Going backwards could mean saving Iris and everyone else Daniel has hurt or killed. Seemingly, Daniel just wants to undo his past crimes anyway. Sounds like everyone wins. Maybe there’s some sort of Speed Force honor code that prevents Barry from tampering with the past, or maybe he just doesn’t want to help out a guy who’s been so willing to murder anyone who presents the slightest inconvenience for him. I don’t know. But if Barry’s all about stopping bad guys, he could probably do some good by going back in time. Or he could at least place a bet on last year’s Super Bowl. Come on, Barry!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?

19 comments on “The Flash 23

  1. Pingback: Villain Month Guide: Part 4 – Everyone Else | Retcon Punch

    • Okay, I’ll entertain this line of speculation – who then in Wally in the New 52? Yet another West sibling? Perhaps one that died when he and Daniel were young, sending Daniel into a dark spiral, ultimately leading him to a life of crime? Then Daniel goes back in time to stop his brother’s death, but can only do so at the cost of his own life?

      • DON’T CRUSH MY DREAMS PATRICK

        It probably isn’t happening in this arc, but when the West family is heavily involved in use of the speed force and – ostensibly at least – time travel, one can’t help but get excited.

        I just want my Wally back, especially since we’ve got Barry around now. I love their dynamic so much – be it as The Flash and Kid Flash or The Flash and The Flash – and sorely miss it.

        • I wouldn’t be surprised if perhaps reverse flash’s powers de-age him somehow (erasing his memories) and they change his identity to Iris’s estranged nephew Wally. We’ve seen the speed force effect someone’s age before with pre-new 52 Bart and i feel that would be an excellent new origin story for Wally. Not to mention perhaps some of his old memories returning in a future story arc.

        • I suppose anything is possible when it comes to the speedforce. I know it’s tough for Wally fans, but man, oh man, won’t it be nice when they finally do trot him out again, years from now? All the waiting, all the longing and then BAM, satisfaction. It’s one of the few aces DC is holding on to pretty tight (I mean, yeah, sure: Steph and Cassie, I SAID ACES), they totally know what it would mean to re-introduce him.

          When you say “his old memories” do you mean pre-Flashpoint or do you mean from his life as “Daniel?”

  2. Shelby, I’m pretty sure that Daniel West got RELEASED from jail sometime during the Rogues storyline. He spent the entire Gorilla Warfare storyline frantically searching the city for Iris (not knowing she was in the Speed Force), and at the end of that storyline, was seen at least once with the Rogues and that hijacked vat of Speed Force energy they swiped. My bets are on that vat having something to do with how Daniel got his abilities.

    Anyway, even if the Daniel reveal fell just the tiniest, tiniest bit flat (Elias and Daniel were the only real candidates all along, which is why I was hoping the RV’s identity would be someone entirely unexpected), this was still a dynamite issue. That Flash on Flash action did not disappoint in the slightest. Manapul and Buccellato know how to depict speed.

  3. Daniel West was the obvious reveal once the solicits released the cover to October’s #24. I hate when covers spoil things but he was one of three options in my head: Dr. Elias, Daniel West, or a future version of Barry

    • Scott makes a really excellent point about that the cast is so small that we’re bound to know who it is anyway. What’s cool about the reveal is that it’s an emotionally powerful moment for the characters, and not necessarily for us. That way, it carries on the weird feeling of the murder mystery that we knew the answer to from the first page (something that we complained about at the time).

      • Yeah its got a stronger emotional hook definitely. And that’s pretty good, but half the fun in these things is the art of deduction.

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