FLASH #44 & #45

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[ I WANT TO SELL MY FAMILY
Knock-Knock! Who’s there? Noah. Noah who! Noah better comic book than the following two created by Joshua Williamson, Carmine Giandomenico, Christian Duce, and published by DC Comics? Because I don’t, and I should know, as it’s May, 2018, and it’s time for another super-fast review!

TO QUOTE Haile Gebrselassie: 'When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time'. 

THE REVIEW:
So this is it, folks! The moment has finally arrived for us to find out the final fate of Central City and the fastest team alive! After all, don’t you want to know what's going to happen to Gorilla Grodd now that he’s as powerless as a twitter account without any followers? Also, aren’t you the slightest bit interested in seeing how Barry, Meena, Avery, August, and the two Wally’s, will try to stop the negative speed force storm from destroying the entire city? Especially now that Grodd’s Lightning Rod Tower isn’t able to keep it in check!

Seriously, what do you think is going to happen? Will Barry try to take on this challenge all by himself? And if he does do that, which he most probably will, hint-hint, wouldn't that mean he’ll also lose his powers in the process? Plus, what will the rest of his team be doing in the meantime? Will they try to stop him? Will they try to jump in and save the day? Or will they just stand around, motionless, and talk about flying monkeys and evil apes? Either way, whatever actually happens, I’m sure emotions will run rampant, people will run fast, and more or less, things will run back to the way things were before all of this started.

Well, I say that, but there is one notable exception! Or should I say... a few notable exceptions? Plural, not singular, starting with Barry Allen going to Iron Heights Penitentiary so he can meet someone he once knew; before ending with Wally West going to the Central City Crime Lab so he can do a similar thing. Want to know more? Then please pick up issues 44 and 45 of The Flash today. In the meantime though, here, check this out...

Part One) LOVE THE FORCE:   Back in the day, when Mark Waid wrote 'The Flash' comic book, he introduced us to a new concept which involved a spiritual connection shared between the speed force and the emotional power of love. Usually, it would be utilized whenever a speedster would get lost in time, or in the speed force itself, and they’d try to tap into it in order to find their way back home via an emotional bond. Sometimes Wally West would do this with the help of Linda Park, most notably during the John Fox saga, and it was predominately featured in many of his career highlights. Now though, well, now I have a sneaking suspicion that Joshua Williamson is trying to bring back this concept, and I say this because of something he wrote in issue 44.

You see, throughout this grand finale, we were presented with segments of a love letter, a very emotional love letter, written by Barry Allen for his beloved girlfriend, Iris West. Essentially it gave Barry the opportunity to express himself by telling Iris how much he loves her, doing so while insinuating that he’s planning to make the ultimate sacrifice, which thankfully, doesn’t actually happen. But more importantly than that, it also highlights that love, true love, was the guiding force behind everything he’s ever done, be it being a superhero, be it being a forensics officer, or be it being a normal everyday person doing whatever normal people usually do, such as laugh, cry, help a friend, and, with a little luck, establish a spiritual connection between himself and a power source that he shares with others.

Along similar lines, I have to also applaud Wally West for what he said to Barry when the two of them were running towards the negative speed force storm! Now if you didn’t get the reference: when Wally told Barry, ‘You were dead once before and I don’t want to go through that again’, I’m sure he meant it in relation to Barry’s heroic death in ‘Crisis On Infinite Earth', issue 8, circa 1985. And yes, it did blow my mind, it blew it to pieces, just knowing that this fact is back in continuity again, thus reaffirming that a great event actually took place and hasn’t been forgotten.

Well, I hope it hasn’t, otherwise why bother mentioning one of Barry’s most defining career moments during an adventure where the same thing could happen again? But on second thoughts, maybe that was the whole point? I hope it wasn’t though, or else that would be a drag, a right drag. Still, that aside, overall I’d like to say that I did enjoy reading this concluding chapter of the ‘Perfect Storm’ and its congenial aftermath (more on that episode in the next section). Not only because they brought together certain heroic themes of unity, sacrifice, and hope, but in addition to this, it was thrilling to see a brand new version of the Flash Family fighting side by side. After all, isn’t that what this book is all about? Family, love, and all of that Jazz? Although I do say this while discounting the naff way it finally disposed of Grodd, plonk, clink, say no more. 

Part Two) AFTER-WHAT:   During the aftermath of Barry's battle against Grodd, we slowly start to find out what’s happened to some of the main players involved in their skirmish. Such as Doctor Meena Dhawan, for example, otherwise known as the naughty female Flash with the dark-purple ninja costume! Graciously she has volunteered to give herself up to the local authorities so she can now spend some time dwelling on her motivations while incarcerated inside Iron Heights Penitentiary. Which kind of makes sense, up to a point, saying so because she has openly admitted to her heinous actions despite partly admitting that she was also controlled by the hairy one himself. Either way, the fact remains that she now has plenty of time to come to terms with who she is and what she wants to do with her life away from the speed force (if any). 

Unfortunately, a number of other characters who were likewise involved didn’t seem to get the same amount of attention. Characters like Avery, Wally number 2, and August Heart, who each only get a small amount of page time in order to set-up future storylines (Godspeed and Kid Flash) or to acknowledge that they’re going to be sidelined until a later date (Avery).  

Don’t worry, though, because we still have the two main stars of the show: Barry and Wally, who both feature more predominantly at the end of the book during a very touching scene where they cautiously approach Iris West and… well… I’m sure you know what they each aim to do! Barry aims to come clean and tell her about his life as The Flash so they can connect with each other on a more personal level. While Wally, on the other hand, has a much more difficult task to accomplish, because he has to make her remember what they once meant to each other, both as a nephew and as an aunt, as well as two very close, close friends.

For fairly obvious reasons I can’t say much more than that, otherwise, I will definitely spoil how this issue is going to end. That said, however, the one thing I can say is that it’s resolved in a very shocking and emotional manner. More shocking than when Kirsten admits to Barry that she once had a crush on August Heart. Ouch! That must have hurt.

Part Three) DON’T FART ON MY ART:   Ever since the start of the New 52, Flash fans, all across the world, can’t seem to decide on what style of art best suits this series. Some have previously stated that Francis Manapul was a bit too heavy-handed when it was his turn to draw this book, especially with his repetitive use of Art-Deco inspired designs and splash-pages. Whereas someone like Brett Booth, on the other hand, didn’t fare any better, all because his style of art seemed one part conventional, one part frigid, and one part too joyful in its composition. 

Now though, well, now we are in the new Rebirth era of storytelling and we’ve been presented with a number of other artists lined-up to draw the fastest people alive, such as Howard Porter, Neil Googe, and of course, Carmine Giandomenico and Christian Duce, two men who were assigned to draw issues 44 and 45 respectively.

So what can I say about Carmine’s style of art? Well, quite a lot, actually, because like Francis, sometimes his work can seem very-stylized by design, bordering on the baroque, and just like Brett, I can say that his illustrations look slightly frigid in places as well. Go on, take a look at some of the artwork featured and see for yourself how static and rushed his panel layouts appear on the page. Not all the time, mind you, as on occasion some of his work was very vibrant and bold, like his double-page spreads, for example, or the gritty way he choreographed the fight scene between Barry and Grodd. Apart from that, though, a fair portion of his work generally appeared fairly inconsistent yet nice nonetheless.

Now in contrast to this, there’s the work of someone like Christian Duce, the artist on issue 45, who in my opinion is a very consistent artist. You see, unlike Carmine’s style of art, his style of art is fairly clean; more detailed, yet has a nice subtle edge to it which is pleasantly pronounced during those scenes where emotion is a factor.

As a matter of fact, one of the best scenes out of the entire book was the one where he drew Wally meeting up with his Aunt Iris. No word of a lie, the sight of these two coming face to face almost brought a tear to my eye, saying so because of the subtle emotions he gave to each character that was then additionally enhanced when Iris acknowledged who Wally actually was. I can likewise say exactly the same thing about that emotionally charged interlude shared between Meena, Avery, and the other Wally, where they met up inside Iron Heights Penitentiary within a melee of contradictory emotions, ranging from sorrow, joy, and ambiguity.

So overall I would like to say that these two episodes of The Flash were well above average. The story made sense, the artwork was great, and the only thing that let them down was a few character and plot inconsistencies.

THE MUSIC:
Now I know that this may sound like a pretty on the nose musical match-up, but hey, if a song fits, it fits, and in my eyes, nothing fits more than the 1966 classic sung by The Spencer Davis Group, ‘Keep On Running’.




THE COMPARISON:
These two episodes of The Flash kind of remind me of a set of revolving doors. After all, when one set closes, another set opens. 

THE CONCLUSION:
Near the end of issue 45, Iris West finds out what Barry Allen likes to listen to on his headphones while he's dressed up and running as The Flash. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess what he listens to? Could it involve...

  • Religious Sermons: Like those surmised by Vickers, Priests, Archbishops, Rabbis, Clerics, or Evangelists.
  • Songs: Like those composed and sung by The Spencer Davis Group.
  • The Emergency Services: Like those broadcast by the police, the hospitals, or any other authority that provides a service to the general public.
  • Whale Noises: Like those that go eiiii-ahhhh-ohhhhh-hhhhhhhiiii!
  • Science-Based Audio Books: Like those devised and orated by Neil Degrasse Tyson.
  • Podcasts: Like those featured in this section right here.
  • Mobile Phones: Like those used by, well, everyone. 
  • Silence: Like... err... like.... uh...
Nuff said.

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