Self-Pity as a Weapon in The Flash 28

by Spencer Irwin

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Barry Allen’s greatest weakness is that he gets caught up inside his own head. When Barry’s upset about something it’s all he can think about, making him late, making him oblivious to the needs of those around him, making him oblivious to the damage his own obliviousness is causing. It’s a vicious cycle; Barry feels bad about himself and retreats into his own head, leading him to make more, similar mistakes, leading him to feel worse about himself, leading him to make more mistakes, on and on and on. Continue reading

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It’s One Step Forward and Two Steps Back for Barry in The Flash 26

by Spencer Irwin

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Guilt alone is not usually enough to help somebody change for the better. It’s an important first step, of course, but unless it leads to self-reflection, guilt can often do more harm than good. That’s certainly true for Barry Allen throughout Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter’s The Flash 26, where Barry’s overwhelming guilt leads him to make yet another stupid decision, despite the best of intentions. Continue reading

Thawne Has a Point in the Flash 25

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

The danger in discussing a single issue of a serialized comic book is that a moment or character beat that doesn’t work in isolation might end up folding in nicely once more of the story is laid out to see. Since comic books are designed to tell their stories episodically, the fact that irrational behavior might be explained in the future doesn’t forgive the initial irritation, but it does help calm it. Such is the case in Joshua Williamson’s The Flash 25, where my profound annoyance in the previous two issues (especially The Flash 23) at Barry being so unaware of how selfish and dangerous he’s been by not telling Iris about his secret identity is resolved simply by having Barry acknowledge his foolishness. Continue reading

The Flash 23

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing The Flash 23, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: I’ve never liked Barry Allen’s “new” origin story. It’s always struck me as an attempt to make the character — a likable, yet bland presence in his Silver Age heyday — more palatable to modern audiences by loading him with unnecessary angst, angst which tends to consume and overwhelm both Barry and his title. I’d be curious to see if current Flash writer Joshua Williamson agrees with me on that front or not. Flash 23 does indeed find Barry becoming consumed by angst, but not only do Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico present a rather compelling reason for it (in the form of Eobard Thawne), they also present it as being a rather glaring flaw on Barry’s part. Continue reading

The Flash 22

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Flash 22, originally released May 17, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: So now that the story’s over, I’ve got to ask: what was “The Button” actually about? While the crossover’s first three installments each served up satisfying stand-alone stories, they never came together with any kind of purpose. There’s a touching Batman story buried in “The Button,” but if it was meant to move forward the overarching “Rebirth” storyline, it essentially ended up standing still. Continue reading

Batman 21

Alternating Currents: Batman 21, Drew and Mark

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Batman 21, originally released April 19th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: I was late getting into comics, so by the time I first read Watchmen, its cynical tone and psychologically nuanced characters weren’t the subversive breath of fresh air they were in 1986. Indeed, in the wake of Watchmen‘s success, publishers pumped out plenty of imitators over the past 30 years, but mostly by replicating the tone and approach to characters (honestly, I’ve read so many deconstructions of superheroes at this point, I’m not sure I have any ideas about them left to deconstruct). For this reason, the tone and characters of Watchmen have always struck me as well-done, but largely unremarkable — and before you sound off in the comments, I can assure you I understand how ahistorical this perspective is, but it’s how I feel. But I still love Watchmen deeply because of its formal perfection. While its idiosyncratic aesthetic may make declaring “perfection” highly subjective (or at least qualifies it with some serious “apples and oranges” hedging), I’m still in awe of its disciplined layouts, masterful pacing, and rich details. Continue reading

The Flash 24

Alternating Currents: Flash 24, Drew and ScottToday, 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

The Flash 23.2: Reverse Flash

Alternating Currents: Flash 23.2 Reverse Flash, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Flash 23.2: Reverse Flash, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of DC’s Villain Month. Click here for our coverage of Villain Month.

villain div

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

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.

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The Flash 22

flash 22

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.

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