Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Flash, Volume 1: Move Foward (The New 52)


The Flash Vol.1: Move Forward (The New 52)
Hope you like this pose, you'll be seeing
it a lot.

Writer: Francis Manapul

Artist: Brian Buccalleto

Read as Trade Paperback

Background Information:

Before you pick up Move Forward, it’s important to know who this Flash is.

Most who are new to comics would probably know him from the Justice League cartoon of the early 2000s. That Flash was a quick-talking hero with a major funnybone. He was a little flirtatious, very self-confident and for most of the series, he was kinda’ the joke character. His highlight in the series was using his speed to beat the ever-loving snot out of the Lex Luthor/Brainiac hybrid in the final episode.

This isn’t that Flash.

In Move Forward, The Flash is Barry Allen. He’s actually the original. Barry’s been dead and brought back to life again, though some readers may see his personality as never being alive in the first place. See, Barry isn’t a joker like Wally, and he doesn’t share Wally’s self-confidence or his laid-back attitude. Barry is a little bit geekier. He’s as forensic scientist who is socially awkward around women. He is the original Flash, however; they guy who got covered by chemicals and struck by lightning. Somehow that resulted in super-speed instead of third-degree burns.

But this is comics. Realism be damned!

Review:

Move Forward, if anything, is about Barry’s relationship to the Speed Force, the energy that gives Flash his ability to run fast. The story is about Barry finding new abilities with this energy, but also its deadly side-effects. It’s an overarching story that ties the two story arcs of Move Forward together nicely.

It turns out the Speed Force does more than just make Barry run fast. It can vibrate the molecules in his body which allows him to phase himself (and even other objects) through solid walls. As Barry rotates his arms, the Speed Force creates vortexes. Most significantly, in this volume, Barry discovers that the Speed Force can help him to “think fast”. This means considering every possible outcome of a situation and acting accordingly. This ability needs a villain that can live up to it. Enter Mob Rule, an old friend of Barry’s that can clone himself multiple times.  It’s a decent set-up; a guy that can move and think faster than anything verses a guy who can be everywhere at once. The situation is complicated further by the fact that Mob Rule is actually an old friend of Barry’s whose clones have turned against him.

The story moves about as fast as you would expect from a book about the fastest man alive, which leads me to talk about one of the book’s major strengths; a lot happens in a single issue. It makes sense, as someone who can move quickly should be able to do more in less time. As a result, I found myself getting my “Flash-fill” before I even reached the middle of the book. That’s an advantage in my eyes, because it gives Move Forward an extended use-by date. This book was just as good to read in the second sitting as the first, which I appreciated.

Much of that sense of speed comes from the work of Brian Buccalleto as artist. Buccaletto is a master at panelling the flash, creating this ordered chaos in his panelling that makes each moment in The Flash feel both quick and incredibly graceful. Between him and writer Francis Manapul, the book has plenty of moments for huge page or double-page spreads. Nearly every moment in this book has you thinking about how great this would be in a movie; Flash vibrates an entire jumbo jet through a bridge. Boats are torn apart and suspended on pillars of ice. Time and space get disrupted something shocking. This is a spectacle book that plays perfectly on the skills of both writer and artist.

My only complaint about Move Forward is that it doesn’t quite end. This was a series that was clearly designed to be read as separate issues. Each issue in this collection ends on a cliff-hanger that really avoids any satisfying conclusion to the trade. It’s a small matter, but it does make the end of Move Forward somewhat abrupt and forced.

Move Forward is exactly what you should expect from a Flash story; it’s faced paced and heavy on action. It gets four and a half out of five third-degree burns.

**** ½

+ Fast moving story.

+ Artwork matches the pace of the story.

- Ending is too abrupt.

Alternate Option: Flashpoint

It’s another Flash book that deals with Barry’s use of the Speed Force. Damn that Speed Force.