Writers: Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato
Artist: Francis Manapul
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool news)

“Hi, my name is Rob Patey and I am trapped in amber.” I’m not proud of this statement, and were there a real support group for being a comic curmudgeon I would sign-up today!

Like most Gen Xers my FLASH loyalties have always been firmly embedded in the alliterated joy that is Wally West. However, I remember a generation ago when I would listen to the comic collectors who are now collecting Medicaid lamenting the loss of some bow-tie wearing square named Barry Allen. To me, BA was just some cannon fodder in my first Superhero comic off the spinner rack called CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. Move on I thought to myself…anyone named Barry is doomed for the history books.

Time is a bitch, my dearest Wally is gone and we don’t have any fucking flying cars. And instead of a new FLASH, Barry was able to once again be an agent of resetting existence and at the same time get a cosmic Botox of rejuvenation for himself and all the ladies in his life.  New 52 took my Wally, conjured my childhood memories of middle-age losers bemoaning the state of comics, and brought back the Wally Cleaver of characters sans new sensibilities because he was trapped in the cosmic amber of the speedforce.

It was with this righteous indignation that I read the first part of FLASH VOLUME 1 over a year ago. With such bile clouding my eyes, this book never stood a chance. I was a victim of remember when and no matter how cool the overarching story was, no matter how pretty Mr. Manapul’s panels moved with seeming FLASH like grace across the page, and no matter how cool Barry’s new power of moving thoughts  courtesy of the Speedforce to give him a Midnighter like clairvoyance all were…I…would…not…relent.

Pride and an unwillingness to change basically made me an epic fail as a reviewer. With all the DC coverage I do this scarlet blind spot is unforgiveable. FLASH is a damn exciting book that’ll singe your fingers it moves so fast. All of this is thanks to the plot and Manapaul’s  prowess for intelligent and dynamic panel placement.

FLASH is a great read. Barry is still boring as shit, but this is a great book and I would say the ladies of his life, Iris West and Patty Spivot,  serve as able crutches to the impediment that is Barry’s lack of personality.   I get it, it’s part of the point and playful juxtaposition that such a yawn of a human  being can transform into such an exciting superhero – and don’t get me wrong the moments when  he’s FLASH are epically heroic throughout every issue in  this trade, but  Barry in his personal life makes me want to put a gun in  my mouth so time will end. I really don’t care about children so I shouldn’t worry about them, but I would be hard pressed to find a kid that  can relate to Barry like I did as a child to an adult Wally West. Wally had a playfulness that made him one of those cool adults. Barry is your uncle who drinks Scotch, smokes a pipe and wants to know your serious thoughts on  politics during the  holidays. He’s young again, but he seems really old in context of today’s sensibilities.

While I can’t help my exercise in Barry bashing, I really did like this first half year of FLASH.  It was chalk full of nerdy Sci—Fakery that tweaks the nethers for those of us who consume as much STAR TREK as we do comics. Barry’s first nemesis in the new 52 was the multiplying menace Mob Rule. There’s a nice little backstory between he and Barry, that while doing nothing to make Barry interesting, does build empathy for this new villain, leaving  you glad that there’s promise for more stories tomorrow. This is also when we’re introduced to Barry’s new ability to see the future by fueling his mind with the Speed Force, there’s a wonderful moment of hubris when it backfires on him too. The second arc with the Rogue’s gallery and Captain Cold is a wonderful exercise of restraint since Barry has to stay below 80% power to keep from pulling things out of the  time stream and plunking them at random around the Gem Cities. Finally there’s a LOL nod to the Cosmic Treadmill courtesy of Barry and his pal/power discoverer and explainer Dr. Elias. Barry was funny once…once.

The first arc also focuses on setting up the love triangle between Patty, Barry and Iris. It’s jarring at first for old FLASH fans, but the interplay between the  three as Iris looks to write a smear piece on the scarlet speedster was fun and really the only time Barry stated to show the inkling of a personality. From a characterization standpoint these ladies seal the show and it’s intriguing to watch whether history will ultimately repeat itself and Barry dumps Patty to marry Iris.

VOLUME 1 leaves things cliff—hanging with fan favorite Gorilla Grodd. Since all of this is happening in the far past, let me know in the Talkbacks or email machine whether this was any good. And when I say good I want it to be  FLASHPOINT One-Shot Grodd good.

Final analysis; hate Barry, but damn it my comic reading simply isn’t complete without FLASH staples in  the mix and JUSTICE LEAGUE just ain’t cutting it. Give Barry a chance, he makes a great Flash even though the man is about as dynamic as Steven Wright on cough syrup.