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FLASH #42 & #43

[ ATTACK THAT BARGAIN
On your marks, get set, and go to your local comic shop to pick up the following two episodes of The Flash, created by Joshua Williamson, Dan Panosian, and Carmine Di Giandomenico. Otherwise, you won’t be able to find out who’s going to live, die, and survive in April, 2018.

TO QUOTE Charles Stanley: 'When we learn from experience, the scars of sin can lead us to restoration and a renewed intimacy with God'.

THE REVIEW:
Over the last couple of days, Gorilla Grodd has managed to turn Central City upside down. After all, everyone who stays there will either die or be completely controlled by the hairy one himself, and that’s without mentioning Multiplex, Raijin, Meena, and the Black Hole Gang, running around town searching for Grodd’s stolen wand

Don’t worry though, because Barry Allen currently has it in his possession and tends to use it in order to restore his speed-force abilities, doing so by plugging it into Grodd’s Lightning Rod Tower so he can release the energy that was once his own. 

But can he do this? And if he can, wouldn’t that mean Grodd would also be restored, and powerful enough to control everyone nearby? Namely, the two Wally’s, Avery, and Godspeed! And if he does do this, which he most probably will, hint-hint, what would that mean for the city, for humanity, and for the very fabric of the speed-force itself? Now if you want to know the answers to these questions, among others, you know what you have to do! Pick up issues 42 and 43 of The Flash today. In the meantime though, here, check this out…

Part One) DOUBLE-DOUBLE, THIS-THIS:   If you’ve read as many comic books as I have (five? Ha!), after a while you will start to realize when a storyteller is having some trouble coming up with brand new ideas. The first thing you’ll notice is that they tend to repeat themselves when it comes down to conveying a concept or a notion they’ve already played out before. Following that, they would then back it up by forgetting to flesh out a plot point or add some substance to a scene that feels hollow, moot, and disposable to read. 

Case in point, during issue 42, Joshua Williamson relays the same tactic twice but in a slightly different variation. His first attempt at doing this can be seen on page five when he gets Barry to ask August for some help, which he does, and then on page ten, he does the same thing again by getting Wally and Avery to ask Meena for some help, ditto. Now every time he does this it’s with the intent of focusing our minds towards a unified objective, namely: That a hero desperately needs some help, and so they ask a villain for their assistance. Every time it’s conveyed, though, the end result has a notably different outcome: August says ‘yes’ while Meena says ‘no’.

Please note: I’m not trying to say that this is a bad thing, per se, not within the confines of this particular story-line. Although repeating yourself can sometimes become more noticeable over time and inadvertently hinder someone’s enjoyment of an adventure.

Now in stark contrast to this, issue 43, on the other hand, was able to avoid repeating itself by conforming to the usual standards held up by conventional comic book storytelling. This time though, the narrative focus was with the intent of prolonging a fight between our two main protagonists, The Flash and Gorilla Grodd, doing so by getting the former to evade the numerous obstacles put in place by the latter, obstacles that take the shape of Barry’s fellow speedsters, possessed, and trying to taunt him and beat him into submission. In addition to this, there were also a number of flashback sequences which elongated the story and gave it some much-needed substance. 

Out of those depicted, my own particular favorite can be seen when Barry recounts the origins of the original Wally West; because it was nice to know that DC didn’t decide to change his beginnings (post-Rebirth), coupled with the fact that some of Wally’s history is still relevant and still in play. Grodd’s origins were equally appreciated; and likewise, once put into context, they clarified his motives and cemented his eventual objectives. Which reminds me...

Part Two) TOO MANY SPEEDSTERS:   A fairly curious question sprung to mind after I finished reading these two episodes: How many speedsters does the DC Universe really need? Scarlet or otherwise. At the moment I can count at least six of them, which include Barry, the two Wally’s, August, Meena, and Hunter Zolomon, although I say this while discounting a number of others who could possibly pop-up in the near future, like Max Mercury, Jay Garrick, Jesse or Johnny Quick, and Eobard Thawne!

So at a rough guess, how many does that make? Nine or ten speedsters? Depending on the breaks! Not that this is a bad thing, mind you! But then again, I wouldn’t want to see the Flash Family turn into another Green Lantern Corps! From my point of view, this collection of heroes always works best as a family unit rather than a team of varied individuals. I would also like to add that by having too many of them, sometimes this can dilute the concept behind the speed-force and make it far less special as a notion and as an idea. 

Of course I do mean this with all due respect, because I am enjoying this current crop of characters and I do appreciate how clearly they’re each being defined: With Barry being the obvious leader of the group; smartly followed by his second-in-command: Wally West number one; the two fallen angels: Godspeed and Meena; plus the two idealistic youths: Wally number two and Avery. That said, however, if DC ever plan to add a few more to their roster, well, sometimes too much can be just that, too much, and I’d hate to see this book take a knocking for the sake of overindulgence.

Something else I’m also slightly concerned about has to do with how every Tom, Dick, and Harry, can find a way of tapping into the speed-force! After all, this is a very unique source of power, and it’s quite alarming that people are able to gain access to it, villainous or otherwise. I fear that if this should happen very often, which at the moment, seems that way, inadvertently readers will get bored by this and it will make them pine for the days that the Flash Family stopped more bank robbers then power-hungry despots. Grodd included, because when did he become so familiar with the speed-force and start teaming up with other super-villains? In the past, he would normally shy away from doing something like this, so I’m finding it very surprising that he should start now! What do you think; dear reader? Do you agree with me or do you think I’m talking a lot of quack? Either way, let me know in the comments section below.

Part Three) DON’T PAN MY ART:   I’ve been a fan of Dan Panosian’s artwork ever since I first saw his embellishments on the Green Lantern title, Mosaic, alongside the regular series artist, Cully Hamner. Or was it an issue of Batman? Anyway, wherever it was, on the whole, I did enjoy his artwork because I thought it was very bold and expressive.

In issue 42 of The Flash, however, I noticed that his style of art had changed slightly -- tonally, if not visually -- and I’d partly attribute this to a number of different factors. For one thing, there were certain revelatory scenes that came across slightly too staged and regimental by design, saying so because of how he positioned each of the characters nicely within a frame, or a panel, like a tidy set of action figures standing next to each other, one, by one, by one. Along similar lines, I wasn’t too fond of the way Dan conveyed ‘special effects’ or ‘kinetic motion’ either. Regrettably, his scratchy inking style made these garnishes look moderately juvenile on the page, almost as if someone took out a large magic marker and started to draw concentric circles whenever a speedster would wave their arm or a villain would shoot their gun.

Don’t worry though, because Dan did manage to turn this around in other areas of his work. Like in the way he drew Grodd, for instance, drawing him as if he were a brooding yet gruff primate always on the lookout for some action. I also enjoyed how he conveyed emotion on a character's face, be it with a bold smile, a stern frown, or an angry scream, time and time again he’d complement each expression by overemphasizing it with a notable shadow or a bold flash of light.

A good example of this can be seen during that sequence where August confronts Barry about his motives for releasing him from prison. At a certain stage in their conversation, a dark shadow looms over August's face as if to signify that what he is saying may have some sort of sinister motive or objective. Not saying that he does, of course, but the insinuation is there and it does add some intrigue to the plot.

I likewise had a similar reaction to the artwork provided by Carmine Di Giandomenico for issue 43. Although, in his case, his illustrations appeared slightly more finessed on the page, distilled even, and were additionally enhanced by a very vivid color pallet care of the one and only, Ivan Plascencia. Either way, good job all round as it was magnificent work.

THE MUSIC:
Throughout both of these episodes, characters like Grodd and Barry continued to mention the use of power! Or to be more specific about it, who’s got the power? From my point of view, it’s got to be... Snap!




THE COMPARISON:
Now with all this talk about life, death, and energy, I think it best that I compare these two issues with something else that fades away and comes back to life due to a connection it shares with a power source! Namely, the Energiser Bunny, because it goes on and on and on until the power runs out, ha! 

Comparison made.

THE CONCLUSION:
Halfway through issue 43, Barry Allen finally tells Gorilla Grodd where he stores his power. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess where he stores it? Could it be…

  1. In his wallet.
  2. In his mind.
  3. In his jacket pocket.
  4. In his kidney.
  5. In his bedroom safe.
  6. In his heart.
  7. In his Aunties house. 
  8. In his ass.
Nuff said.

FLASH #42 & #43 FLASH #42 & #43 Reviewed by David Lee Andrews on April 10, 2018 Rating: 5

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