Monday, 20 April 2015

The Flash Vol. 4: Reverse (The New 52) Review

The Flash Vol. 4: Reverse (The New 52) Review
Yep, it's one of those "make you one colour"
lightening bolts
Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccelato
Artists: Francis Manapul, Scott Hepburn and Chris Sprouse
Collects: The Flash #20-25 and The Flash #23.2: Reverse-Flash.
Background Information:
Manapul and Buccellato’s The Flash is a run that hasn’t really ended any story arc at all. It started when the Flash discovered that the speed force messes with time and space. It’s taken him to Gorilla City and back to fight the Rogues and then to fight inhabitants of said Gorilla City, led by Grodd.
Yeah, he’s done heaps of fighting.
Review:
And in Reverse, it’s all over… sort of….
See, Brian Buccellato is staying on the title for one more volume after this, but Manapul has moved on to draw Detective Comics, which Buccellato is also drawing, and, judging on the next volume, he’s taken his toys and gone home. All of the plot elements you cared about up til this point are wrapped up and, even though the wrapping up doesn’t make for stories that are quite as effective as the previous volumes, you can’t help but like it.
Don't tell me those aren't toenails. Those ARE toenails.
So Barry Allen, fast-running superhero and possibly the only blonde dude in the DCU, has been inside the speed force, and taken a few people back with him. Those people found that they had super powers and were promptly killed by a red guy with what looks like black toenails growing all over him. This “Reverse Flash” wants control of the speed force all to himself for reasons that I shan’t spoil.
Okay, so the first thing you’ll be thinking to yourself as you read Reverse is “why didn’t they do this sooner?”
From guest starrinig Kid Flash, to hinting at Jesse Quick, to strongly suggesting a hint of romance between Barry and Iris West, it all seems like stuff that should have been in earlier volumes, but somehow wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, everything here feels like it belongs, but it also feels so natural that there seems little reason not to have had this earlier.
 And that’s not a real criticism because if there’s one thing Manapul and Buccellato have gotten right, it’s that characterisation. The Reverse Flash we get in this volume feels intensely humanised, and you can’t help but feel sorry for him; even though he’s a murderous psychopath. Barry is intensely likeable to the point where you even like his “boringness”. Patty Spivot is great relationship material for Barry; and the two have this fantastic chemistry together without diminishing Iris West’s character in the least.
Not Wally West, but okay...
The art in Reverse continues to be fantastic it’s great to see a book that is written purely to look pretty, and that’s exactly what first impressions of Reverse are. This book, plain and simple, isn’t gonna be the same without Manapul’s art, and that is an absolute, crying shame.
But there’s one thing I can’t forgive Manapul and Buccellato for, and that’s the end of the major story arc. The team spends so much energy and effort building up this great sense of tension, and then, it’s like they suddenly forgot what was going to happen and rushed an ending with what they could think of in the last minute. The crossover into the Batman: Zero Year arc feels both unnecessary and shameless as an advertisement to the team’s upcoming Detective Comics arc.
Reverse is a decent send-off for Manapuul and Buccellato and gets a four out of five black toenails.
****
+ Great Characterisation
+ Art. Is. Beautiful.
- Disappointing end.
Alternate Option: The Flash: Move Forward
Read this. Just read it.