REVIEW: Flash #1

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Death in comics has become an annoyance. Both for the characters and the readers. There used to be this unwritten rule that death in comics was permanent in only three cases: Jason Todd (Robin II), Captain America’s sidekick Bucky, and Barry Allen (the Flash II). These were characters that were dead 20 years ago and that everyone generally agreed would stay dead indefinitely.

DC and Marvel have brought them all back to life in recent years. The end result being when a major character is killed at the end of one of the big two companies’ major events, readers at this point just shrug. Death has no weight in comics today. I’m not sure why we even bother pretending otherwise.

Which brings us to last week’s launch of the Flash #1, which was the debut of recently-back-from-the-dead Barry Allen’s new ongoing series. Barry has been back for awhile now having starred in two mini-series and playing a prominent role in the Blackest Night mega-event. Here’s a secret I’ve learned about him over the last year: he has NO character. He’s a bland guy who used to wear a bow-tie and was always late for everything. That’s it.

The recent Flash: Rebirth miniseries, which was plagued by delays, did nothing to establish his character, nor did the Blackest Night tie-in Flash mini-series. Writer Geoff Johns has done nothing to show us why Barry is so great that DC NEEDED to resurrect him. He had a great death and it should have been left alone.

On top of all of that, I should disclose that I harbor some resentment against this series based on the fact that it stole the creative team behind Adventure Comics after only six issues; a book that was really establishing itself as one of DC’s stronger offerings.

You may ask why I even bothered reading a book that I’m so clearly biased against…? Well DC promised me a little plastic toy Flash ring if I did.

And guess what! My store didn’t even have any. Jerks.

What’s that you ask? No, I’m not six years old.

So what did I think about Flash #1?

It kind of rocked. This book was pitched as superheroes meets CSI. It’s an interesting concept that is barely touched on in issue 1, but you can see the groundwork being laid out.

The real hero behind this book though is artist Francis Manapul. The sequence featuring Barry disassembling a car at super speed to keep it from killing some construction workers and a child is STUNNING. There’s also a page featuring the Rogues that looks like something out of a recent issue of J.H. Williams’ Detective Comics. Really strong stuff.

And the twist at the end, is a nice change of pace from the typical comic book death.

Unfortunately Barry Allen still has no personality, but I’ll give Johns a few more months to try to find it.