Monday, 29 September 2014

The Flash Volume 3: Gorilla Warfare (The New 52) Review


The Flash Volume 3: Gorilla Warfare (The New 52)

"We are not monkeys! We are apes!"
Writers: Fancis Manapul and Brian Buccellato

Artists: Fancis Manapul

Collecting: The Flash #13-19

Background Information:

Readers who have been put off by the New 52’s “Dark and Gritty” approach, may find that The Flash offers an appropriate remedy to their affliction. Most of the action happens during the day, humour is more present here than in any other DC book and the action has generally been less about decapitations and more about showing off what the Flash can do.

This is a series that has come under fire since the beginning of the New 52 for starring Barry Allen as the Flash and not the highly popular Wally West. But, in all respect, those critics can go jump because The Flash has been one of the more consistently good books in the New 52.

Review:

In case you haven’t caught on, I’ve really been enjoying The Flash, and Gorilla Warfare feels like the final touch on a long first story arc. There’s still another volume to come in Manapul and Buccellato’s run with Barry Allen, but this so far has been the highest point in a series that’s already highly enjoyable.

So the Gem cities have been invaded by talking Gorillas led by their King, Gorilla Grodd. What makes these monkeys so dangerous is that this time, their powered by the speed force- the extra-dimensional energy that give the Flash his powers. Faced with this threat, Flash has to team up with the Rogues- his foes from the previous volume- to drive the invasion back.

The story is a great excuse for Buccellato and Manapul to call the gorilla’s “damn filthy apes”. Planet of the Apes FTW!
Yep, add this to the list of dumb ideas.

There’s been a LOT of set-up to this story in the previous two volumes, so readers hoping to come in fresh with Gorilla Warfare aren’t going to have a lot of fun here. The story relies heavily on knowing that the Rogues are all angry at Captain Cold, their former boss, knowing that Iris West (one corner of Barry’s love triangle) is trapped in the speed force and knowing that most people are convinced that Barry is actually dead. But it’s the way all of these elements are brought together that makes Gorilla Warfare so enjoyable.

Even better is the way that Manapul and Buccellato manage to walk that fine line between “light and fun” and “dark and gritty”. I don’t know how they pull it off, but this book somehow manages to be both without making either one fell neglected. One minute I’m having a chuckle at the inability of the Rogues to get along, another moment I’m cringing as the Trickster’s arm gets ripped off. It’s a great duality that somehow happens without Gorilla Warfare feeling like it’s at odds with itself (something that’s not easy to do- watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2 if you want proof).


Seriously, who doesn't like this couple?
I can’t really go on without talking about Patty Spivot, Barry’s love interest in this and the last two volumes. When I first read about her, I was aware that Iris West was Barry’s love interest before the New 52, and didn’t expect Patty to last this long. Yet, third volume, and here we are. What’s more, she’s really become a likeable character in this volume, and in many ways seems an excellent match for Barry. We know that he’ll end up with Iris eventually, but Barry’s relationship to Patty seems just a relevant.

The art here returns to its former glory. In the last volume, there were some moments that were taken by other artists and that hurt the book. This time the art is firmly in the hands of Manapul, and it’s awesome again.

My only real problem here is that… actually, I have no real problem with this volume. It’s just what I want out of a Flash story, so it gets a five out of five damn filthy apes.

*****

+ Brings the last two volumes together perfectly.

+ Balances “light” and “dark” elements really well.

+ Art back to being excellent.

Alternate Option: The Flash: Move Forward and Rogues Revolution

You need to read these to understand Gorilla Warfare.