FLASH #58 & #59

There once was a man named Barry, who had an awful lot of weight to carry. But as time flew by, his burden began to sigh, spurned on by his trip to Westminster Abbey. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Joshua Williamson, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, and published by DC Comics in December, 2018.

TO QUOTE Colin Powell: 'Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence'.

In order to find out more about the Speed Force (along with its additional paraphernalia), Barry Allen and Iris West both travel to Trueno, Badhnisia, under the proviso that their journey will teach them something new, something fresh, and something spiritually rewarding. Which it does, up to a point, because after a while they visit an ancient church that houses a statue, a very special statue, bursting with power, that hastily gets stolen by a couple of thieves called Gemini.

But as we all know, Barry is a very honorable man, and he won’t allow them to get away with this theft Scott Free! Not unless he suddenly gets sidelined to Gorilla City, where he discovers a bunch of dead apes. Yes. That’s correct. I said apes. Or to be more specific about it, a city full of deceased primates who likewise share a connection with The Force. The sage-force, to be more precise, which is aptly explained to Barry by some of the remaining survivors! Want to know more? Then please check out issue 58 and 59 of The Flash today. In the meantime though, here, check this out…

Part One) WISH YOU WERE HERE:   Now I might be missing something fairly obvious here, but I honestly thought ‘A Force Quest’ involved Barry traveling to different parts of the multiverse and learning new techniques from his contemporaries. Ideally, I was hoping to see the numerous members of The Flash Brigade taking their turn to teach Barry another approach of channeling his current abilities. One could even help him find out more about the sage-force, another the strength-force, and another the still-force, each time, each teacher could show him something new and fresh, both about himself, his methods, and his overall outlook on life.

But no. We didn’t get that, did we? Because according to this comic book, ‘A Force Quest’ largely relies on Barry running around the world and teaching himself about the many iterations of The Force! Which, in a roundabout way, makes this quest seem like a DIY styled quest, where the student and the teacher are exactly the same person! Kind of like watching a YouTube video, albeit more interactive, ha!

Seriously though, folks, all in all, I would've preferred to have seen what I initially presumed: With Barry taking part in a collection of ‘life lessons’ helmed by numerous versions of The Flash. Heck, back in the day, when Wally West wore the mantle (may God bless his soul), he took part in a similar-styled adventure under the tutelage of Max Mercury. Both he, Johnny Quick, and Jay Garrick, introduced Wally to the very nature of the speed-force, and one, by one, by one, they showed him different ways of utilizing this strange, new, mystical concept. Admittedly, Wally was never a spiritual person at heart, yet we can’t deny that he did acknowledge having a ‘connection’ and used it in his own unique way. Own, being the operative word here, which is what Barry has to do now. Well, I think he does, anyway.

Come to think of it, something else I would like to change about this adventure would have to be how the pretext partly relies on coincidence. After all, what are the odds of Barry and Iris turning up at Gorilla City mere moments after it was mysteriously attacked? Or for that matter, paying a visit to a foreign church at exactly the same time it was being robbed by another loving couple? 100 to 1? 200 to 1? Maybe a bit more? Plus, to make this subsequent scenario additionally cringeworthy, the two villains in question, named Gemini, were so annoying, two dimensional, and bland-bland-bland, that I honestly thought they were a throwback to a cheesy husband and wife duo from the mid-1950s. 

Oh! Wait a minute! That reminds me of something else! Or should I say, someone else? Johnny Thunder: The cheesy hero who was taken to Badhnisia as a child and infused with what would eventually become the Thunderbolt. Yes. That’s right. I did say Badhnisia. The same location Barry and Iris visited in issue 58, which goes to show how small this world really is.  But then again, maybe it’s not so small? Maybe The Force (along with Commander Cold’s satellite) guided Barry to Badhnisia because of a connection he shares with Johnny, his Thunderbolt, Jay Garrick, and quite possibly, the Fifth Dimension! Well, wouldn’t that be a right blast? Seeing this storyline bringing back at least a smidgen of Golden Age charm, just so we can acknowledge that it once existed in the DCU!!!

Part Two) STOP MONKEYING AROUND:   That said, however, I suppose I shouldn’t really be criticizing these episodes for what they’re not, but rather, praising them for what they are. And what is that exactly? Well, they’re the first two parts of a fun and rambunctious adventure drawn by a very talented artist: Rafa Sandoval, who's managed to illustrate a clean, crisp, and visually stimulating narrative that’s very simple to follow. This ranges from the realistic way he draws apes, backgrounds, and technology; the fluid way he draws kinetic-motion, movement, and action; as well as the expressive way he draws emotion, personality, and poise. 

Ironically enough, this point brings me quite nicely on to something else about this adventure I thoroughly enjoyed, namely, how Joshua Williamson is starting to have some fun defining each of his main characters. His version of Barry, for instance, is slowly turning into a polite and sensitive hero who’s overly protective towards those he loves. Whereas his version of Iris, on the other hand, seems far more daring in comparison, and far more logical too! I mean, just take a look at that scene at the start of issue 59: The one where they both gradually realize what’s happened to Gorilla City. At face value, Iris appears to have her wits about her, while Barry seems to have a far more apprehensive temperament. In fact, Iris was so level-headed, she was able to spot a hidden tunnel they could both explore, whereas Barry was worrying more about her safety. Which makes sense, up to a point, a lot more sense than what then happens next when they enter the tunnel and meet the surviving gorillas!

Well, as many of you may know, I’ve been reading this series for quite some time -- for over fifteen years, give or take a month -- and during that time I’ve never been too keen on reading retroactive continuity. Not only because I sometimes find it very forced, very obvious, and very disrespectful by nature, but in addition to this, on occasion re-branding someone’s origin, history, or concept, can also cause havoc to their overall continuity.

Now a prime example of this can be clearly seen in someone like Hawkman, for instance, who’s been rebranded, updated, and messed about with so many times, DC Comics always has a tough time giving him a new book (because no one can be certain how long it will last)! So, with that in mind, can someone please explain to me why Gorilla City is suddenly connected to the sage-force? I mean, is this even necessary? No, I don’t think so, not one little bit. Because even though I liked the way this revelation played out – via a bold, dramatic hologram of the late, great, King Solovar, doing his best impression of Princess Leia – in the same breath, I found it to be too contrived, trite even, almost as if it’s inclusion was intended to justify a connection between The Flash and the apes in question. 

What do you think, dear reader? How do you feel about this new take on Simian Central along with this current storyline? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Or are you a bit like me? Enjoying the ride but not all of the pit stops along the way! Either way, please let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Have you ever watched the Tim Burton version of ‘The Planet of the Apes’ film? If so, then you must have heard the great Danny Elfman soundtrack that went along with it. A soundtrack, I hasten to add, which I’m now going to musically match up with these two episodes because they’re both about monkeys and adventure.

Now a large portion of this story revolves around Barry needing to learn something new about his old powers. Similar, in fact, to attending an Adult Education Facility, simply because this place of learning tries to teach old dogs new tricks, wink-wink! You know it makes sense.

Comparison made. 

At the end of issue 59, The Flash travels to another exotic location in order to face off against another super-powered villain. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess where he travels to and who he ends up facing? Could it be…

  • Barbados, to bash Bane.
  • Gotham, to grab G'nort.
  • Poland, to punch The Penguin.
  • Croatia, to kick Captain Cold.
  • Metropolis, to mash-up Metallo.
  • Corto Maltese, to fight Fuerza.
  • England, to encounter Egghead. 
  • Senegal, to slap Silver Samurai.

Nuff said. 

FLASH #58 & #59 FLASH #58 & #59 Reviewed by David Andrews on December 11, 2018 Rating: 5

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