FLASH #50 & #51

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[ SPEEDY SALE
Please note: Reading the following review will cause you to scratch your head, pick your nose, and, under severe circumstances, sing the Dutch national anthem... backwards. So now you’ve been warned, go on, check out these two issues of The Flash created by Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Scott Kolins, and published by DC Comics in August, 2018.

TO QUOTE Hippocrates: 'Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity'. 

THE REVIEW:
Over the last couple of days both Wally West and Barry Allen have been through an awful lot. This includes traveling through time, avoiding fights with the Justice League, the Renegades, and what’s left of the Titans, before finally coming face to face with their own mortality. Or to be more specific about it, the face of Hunter Zolomon, otherwise known as the villain, Zoom, who has cleverly pitted these two against each other in order to claim the ultimate prize! That being, total and utter control of the speed-force itself, along with having access to a realm known as Hypertime!

Yes. That’s correct. I said Hypertime. Which is kind of like a trans-dimensional airport or bus terminal that people can use to travel to different realities, different worlds, different periods of history, and of course, different universes as well! You know, just like the universe Wally West once lived on prior to the Flashpoint saga. 

But don’t worry, fellow Flash fans! Wally isn’t going to do anything stupid. After all, he understands that Zoom is the real threat here and needs to be stopped as soon as possible. So, to accomplish this task, both he and Barry chase after him until… until... until... errr... now how can I put this without giving the game away? Well, I don’t think I can, not totally, anyway, although what I can say is that certain matters do get resolved while others don’t. No. Not at all! Which leaves Wally feeling helpless, lonely, scared, and unsure about what he should do next! Want to know more? Then please pick up issues 50 & 51 of The Flash today. In the meantime though, here, check this out...

Part One) GOODBYE TIME TRAVEL:   Now with all due respect I’ve never been a big fan of adventures that feature time travel. More often than not I find them to be pretty far-fetched, thematically at least, and disposable within the realms of current continuity. After all, when was the last time you read a story about a hero traveling through time, and it actually affected the wider comic book universe?

Not often, I’m sure, and I say this while taking into consideration that this is what happened at the end of the Flashpoint saga. But then again, that was part of a much bigger crossover event, and not embedded within a solo title, such as this one, for instance. Other multi-part epics that feature time travel includes the 1985 classic, Crisis on Infinite Earths, the 1991 annual extravaganza, Armageddon 2001, and of course, 1994s Zero Hour, to name but a few.

You see, what I’m specifically referring to, dear reader, is the fact that when this brand of adventure is told from inside a title, namely, an ongoing series, it doesn’t always make much of an impact, either internally or in any other book. In fact, some of them only last's as long as the current creative team.

Now don’t get me wrong. Over the years there have been many, many, marvelous stories based around time travel, and most of them were able to convey the concepts, ideas, and principles, they are predominantly known for: such as alternate versions, hypothetical scenarios, as well as themes based around a common ideology. But, if truth be told, those that make the biggest impact seem to have the same thing in common: They’re all multi-chapter epics which predominantly envelop a number of different titles and effect, change, and sculpt a large portion of the DCU. Well, some of them do, anyway. 

Personally, I can think of four, maybe five, ongoing titles which have regularly utilised time travel, and while most of them were fairly good — such as the last Booster Gold series, the James Robinson version of Starman, Hourman, Chronos, as well as Christopher Priest’s version of The Ray — nowadays they seem to be pretty much forgotten, discarded even, without having any wider-reaching ramifications that lasted past their tenure. On top of that, we also have to acknowledge this book — or at the very least, the numerous iterations of this book — which has additionally propelled the concept of time travel for the sake of adventure: Like when Wally was its main star, along with Barry, since his reintroduction in Rebirth and way before. 

Apart from that, though, no, not really, there haven’t been many great time travel stories, and goes to show how difficult they are to write and make into something special. Which, in a roundabout way, is just my way of saying that I’m happy The Flash isn’t able to access the time stream. Phew! Thank God I got that off of my chest, ha! Now I can continue...

Part Two) WHAT TO DO WITH WALLY:   Ok. So where was I? Oh yes. Now I remember. Flash 50 and 51. Where to begin? How about with Wally, Wally West, the first one, who undoubtedly doesn’t seem to be anything like his former self. I mean, once upon a time he was a fairly fun character who respected his elders, protected The Flash legacy, and even managed to construct a life outside of the costume. Now though, well, now he appears to be a stubborn, lonely individual, and he’s in dire need of some sort of direction. You know, just to get his life back on track.

So with that in mind, what do you think DC are going to do to accomplish this task? Are they going to restore his wife and kids and give him his old title back? Or are they going to reinforce Wally’s more blue-collar persona and lighten him up a bit? No. Unfortunately not! They aren’t prepared to do any of these things, as they’d rather stick him on a shelf ready for the next multi-part event, saying so despite him being the fastest man alive who saved everyone in issue 50.

I mean, really? Is this the best they can come up with? If it wasn’t bad enough that he hasn’t been included in the new Titans roster (out now), to make matters even worse, DC have simply forgotten what makes Wally tick. Can’t they at least hire one of the writers who previously chronicled his exploits, like Mark Waid or Brian Augustyn, because they knew, and still know, he’s much more than a man focused on emerging from Barry’s shadow!  He’s a joker. He’s a family man. He’s a romantic. He was once a mechanic. And he deserves a little more respect, God damn it, and shouldn’t be killed off during the next major event.

Yes. That’s correct. DC might actually kill Wally, big time, and I say this for two very specific reasons. Firstly, the overall tone of issue 51 reminded me of an old Superman story, ‘Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?’, created by Alan Moore, Curt Swan, and George Pérez, which was a story about the Golden Age Superman before he passed away. And secondly, according to comicbook.com, he will play a major role in the up-and-coming ‘Heroes In Crisis’ storyline, written by Tom King and illustrated by Clay Mann, and he will either die at the end of it or join the Suicide Squad. So, if any of this is true, and to be believed, Oh dear, it looks like Wally West’s days are finally numbered! What a shame, what a real shame, because they’ve just brought him back and don’t seem to know what to do with him. Although, I could be wrong, and hope I am.

Part Three) NO NEED TO REST:   So now that I’ve talked about time travel and the character of Wally West, the next thing I would like to do is to talk about what I thought about these two issues, issues 50 and 51. Well, for a start, I thought they were a pretty decent read, because issue 50 wrapped up the Flash War storyline rather nicely, in part, while setting up some new plot-lines, whereas issue 51, on the other hand, felt more like a goodbye to Wally West. I also liked the fact that most of the supporting cast had some time in the spotlight, such as Wallace West, for instance, what with him breaking away from Barry and moving towards his role in the Teen Titans. Commander Cold also seems like an interesting character, particularly his quest, ‘going back to the future’, and how he’ll progress with it from here on in. 

Yet, if truth be told, what I liked about these two issues the most would have to be Iris West. After all, she’s the link that gives these episodes some heart, some real heart, not only because she’s Barry’s girlfriend and the aunt of Wally and Wallace, but in addition to this, she also represents us, the audience, the fans, as she genuinely wants The Flashes to do the right thing at the right time and at the right place.

Now a good example of this can be seen near the end of issue 51, where she instructs Barry to be patient with Wally and wait for him to return. Obviously, from her previous experiences, she knows that Wally will come back to her sooner or later, and when he does, she can sit them both down together and finally get Barry and Wally to talk, face-to-face. To me, this shows good character, both internally as well as for the sake of the story, and goes to show that heroes don’t need to wear costumes but do need to have some common sense

Anyway, more or less, that’s what I thought about these two episodes: The art was good and the stories showed promise. So what do you think, dear reader? Did you enjoy reading them? Did you agree with the way the Flash War ended? And are you happy with the way Wally was handled, or the current block on time travel? Either way, let me know what you think in the comment section below.

THE MUSIC:
You know what? All of this talk about universes, time travel, and otherworldly phenomena, makes me want to musically match up these two issues with 'The Galaxy Song', performed by Eric Idle and the rest of Monty Python. In fact, I think I will...




THE COMPARISON:
For previously established reasons I’d like to compare these two issues to the Superman story, ‘Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?’, which was originally a two-part tale that started in Superman #423 and ended in Action Comics #583, published in September, 1986.

THE CONCLUSION:
At the end of issue 50, we get to see the return of a much-beloved character. So, out of the following eight candidates, let’s see if you can guess who this mysterious person is? Could it be...

  1. XS: Barry’s Granddaughter.
  2. Jay Garrick: Barry’s Predecessor.
  3. Max Mercury: Barry’s Other Predecessor. 
  4. Johnny Quick: See Previous Two Candidates For More Information.
  5. Jessie Quick: Johnny’s Daughter and Barry’s... errr... thing.
  6. Bart Allen: Barry’s Grandson.
  7. Lester Lyinggit: Barry’s Accountant. 
  8. Steve Allen: He has nothing to do with Barry but he was a great talk-show host.
Nuff said.

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