Flash is back

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  • Friday, 10 Apr 2009

Flash: Rebirth #1 (of 5) (DC/US$3.99)

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

IT HAS happened to the Man of Steel, Hal Jordan @ Green Lantern, Oliver Queen @ Green Arrow and even Wonder Woman – hence was no big deal when Barry Allen @ the Silver Age Flash got his shot at resurrection. As you see, Barry bit the dust two decades ago (Crisis on Infinite Earths #8) saving the multiverse from the Anti Monitor. That moment was definitive and helped immortalise Barry’s place in the heroes “hall of fame.” Not­with­­standing that Barry would occasionally make cameo astral appearances in his successor’s (Wally West) adventures, with him eventually assuming an Uncle Ben role (deceased advisor).

On the other front, Wally has successfully stepped up to the mantle and reinvented the scarlet speedster’s persona very much in his own image until the Final Crisis came-a-calling!

Final Crisis - last year’s controversially disappointing DC Uni­­verse crossover changed everything. Batman’s time-warped status aside; the Apokolips-on-Earth plot brought back Barry into the land of the living. With Wally very much established as this era’s Flash and Bart a proven replacement – is there a role for Barry to assume? The success and appeal of this five-parter lies mainly in the creativity of Geoff Johns, for elevating the status of Wally-Flash.

Having spent five years charting Wally’s (Flash #164-225) career, Geoff has the perfect credentials to revitalise Barry’s status – and the added plus comes in the form of Ethan, who was also Geoff’s creative half for Green Lantern Rebirth – the story arc that resurrected Hal Jordan.

However, unlike the Green Lantern scenario where the vacuum left by Hal’s absence was never properly filled by Kyle Ray­­ner, the Flash situation is more complex – especially when you have a huge fan base who grew up reading about Wally as the Flash (instead of Barry!).

It’s akin to getting fans to acknowledge Jay Garrick (the Golden Age Flash) as this era’s Flash, hence making it crucial for the creative team to gradually assimilate Barry into Flash continuity without disrupting the existing building blocks.

Fortunately, Geoff triumphs as his immaculate knowledge on Flash facts, and that results in a well-crafted homecoming for Barry. This issue serves as a trip down memory lane as essential elements (the Rogues, the Flash Museum, Hal Jordan and the Speed Force) are neatly woven as part of the welcome back setting while elevating Barry’s learning curve. Additionally, the creative team live up to their promise of incorporating elements from the last seven decades of Flash mythos – here, the chemistry amongst the various era’s speedsters (Jay, Wally and Bart) is simply heartwarming.

Plot-wise, Barry’s back in business as the Flash and his return from the grave is met with mixed emotions. While the good guys have a reason to rejoice, the rogues are treading with caution for their inevitable reunion with the numero uno Flash. Sub-plots are abundant as the Black Flash runs his last race, a gory killing spree that ends up with the re-enactment of the shock of lightning that bestowed the Flash’s powers and also Barry’s own reaction towards his return.

In case you are wondering (like me) about Bart’s presence – who supposedly died in Flash (vol.3) #13 – well, he got resurrected in the pages of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds.

Overall, the creative team pulls the right strings in setting the tempo for a blistering race ahead. Geoff, as usual, is superb when it comes to crafting a plot that requires piecing up different characters, eras and history. And Ethan’s work seems a little rushed towards the final pages – hopefully he’ll rediscover his Green Lantern Rebirth form by the next issue.

Elektra #1 (of 5) (Marvel-Dark Reign/US$3.99)

Writer: Zeb Wells

Artist: Clay Mann

As the saying goes, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” – now imagine how you would react if you’ve spent months or years held captive and scientifically abused? Well, the lab-ordeal continues for Elektra as she finds herself transferred from Skrull-scrutiny to the Norman Osborne-led Hammer inquiry.

Determined to uncover the extent of the Skrull’s tests on her, Osborne’s lab rats are leaving no stone unturned – be it physical or mental. However, personal vendettas come to play when a hefty bounty is placed on Elektra’s head, setting in motion a bloody killing spree. Nowhere near the vintage-Frank Miller stuff produced but still a good read, considering that it’ll help address some unanswered questions since New Avengers #32.

Saga of Swamp Thing #21 Special Edition (DC/US$1)

Writer: Alan Moore

Artist: Stephen Bissete and Totelben

As part of DC’s plans to cash in on Watchmen-mania, they’ve reprint­ed a list of classics under the “After Watchmen, what next?” banner. Bearing no relationship to the Watchmen, this issue (together with Planetary #1, Transmetro­politan #1, etc) promises to evoke similar thought-provoking sentiments akin to Alan Moore’s 1985 classic.

Deservingly, Swamp Thing #21, which was also written by Moore prior to creating Watchmen – is the pick of the lot. To newcomers, what makes this issue a standout classic is Moore’s twisted revelation of the Swamp Thing’s true origins. Contrary to the initial fact that a scientist (Alec Holland) was the murky walking plant monster, Moore did the unthinkable by revealing otherwise.

I read this book two decades ago and last week’s re-read still generated the same amount of suspense but with added nostalgia. Since it’s a US$1 (RM3.50) purchase, I suggest to also get Planetary #1 and Transmetro­politan #1 to get your senses numbed!

Deadpool – Games of Death (Marvel-one shot/US$3.99)

Writer: Mike Benson

Artist: Sean Crystal

With the Merc-with-a-mouth’s fan base on the uptrend, this one-shot stand-alone adventure serves as the perfect jump in point for new fans (especially those who have watched the recently released Hulk v Wolverine cartoon). Anyway, the tale revolves on Deadpool participating in a Survivor-style game show. Unlike the usual “outplay, outwit and outlast” motto, this one also involves “outlive” as every reward challenge is a killer – practically!

> Comics courtesy of Earth 638 (Lot 2.13J, 2nd Floor, Atria Shopping Centre, Jalan SS 22/23, Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya in Selangor). Hotline: 03-7729 6380, e-mail: (earth638@streamyx.com)

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