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Speed Reading! – The Flash #1
April 25, 2012Posted by on
Coming out from DC Comics’s New 52 is The Flash, a revamped title centering on the Scarlet Speedster. Over the past five or six years, DC hasn’t really known what to do with the character. I won’t get into why that is (it’ll take too long), but suffice it say that Flash hasn’t been getting the attention he deserves nor the creative juice for him to move forward.
Fortunately, under the creative team of writers/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, the series has been absolutely stellar. Of course, it all starts in issue 1.
The story, itself, is not all that complex. Sidestepping any sort of origin, The Flash prevents a group of masked thieves from stealing a genome recorder at a science expo and discovers that one of them (who was killed during the raid) is his friend, Manuel. Days later, Barry is contacted by a very much alive Manuel who is being hunted by the same gang of thieves, who, now unmasked, all look like Manuel.
As I mentioned, it is a very straight-forward comic book story. No reinventing the wheel with that. I am not complaining, because I like it when comics keep things relatively simple. It is when they get overly complex that things fall apart. What works here is how the story is paced and how Manapul and Buccellato write their dialogue. It is very crisp and believable. Within 13 pages, the series seven main and supporting characters are introduced (or re-introduced in some cases) and are all given distinct personalities (even those only appearing in a panel or two). It also doesn’t break or distract from the story. Everything just feels natural. That is how good this team’s writing style is. I am sure it isn’t perfect, but, as of now, nothing immediately jumps out at as being outright bad. Most writers grow as their runs continue, but if things are this solid at the beginning, I can only imagine what will happen down the road.
The one thing I feel that this issue is lacking is a proper sense of world-building. M&B do a good job of introducing characters, but not much beyond that. Most of the issue is Barry angsting over the (seemingly) death his friend. I suppose this isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but for a first issue in a new continuity, I guess I expected more of it. Hopefully future issues will give us more.
While the writing is fine, the real selling point Manapul’s art. It. Is. Gorgeous. It has that fun look that I desire in comics that I read, but it is able to straddle the line between cartoony and realistic. It is difficult to explain. Look at the pictures below.
Manapul had art duties on the previous volume of The Flash. But that was under writer Geoff Johns. Johns is a great writer, but an artist he isn’t. Because Manapul is an artist with a specific style, I feel that he is able to visualize his stories a whole lot more. He has his art in mind and can manipulate pages and panels to better suit the story telling. For example, his two-page splash which shows the title. At first glance, it looks like they just used two pages to write “The Flash”. Looking closer, you see that each letter of “Flash” has a distinct image in it, showing his battle with the thieves.
That’s brilliant. Also, I feel that having Manapul in charge of story and art allows him to better depict Barry’s use of speed. Perhaps “better” isn’t the right word, but definitely gives the book a unique look (including a much-more toned down, subtler use of the lighting that explodes out of a running Flash.
Manapul’s art is quite possibly the best use of artwork to enhance the story. I feel in too many comics, the art, regardless of how good it is, is designed to “show the image” instead of actually moving the story forward. Here, the art is much more engaging and can cause the reader to go back to re-read the comic multiple times in order to absorb everything. With Buccellato’s colors, it is really the issue’s biggest selling point. There are times that I just want to sit there and look at the page to appreciate the art.
The Flash #1 starts the series on a very strong note. It is fun, has immediately likeable characters, and has some great art. It isn’t perfect, but it does the proper job of hooking a reader. If future issues continue this trend, The Flash will be a continuous best seller.
Note: Yes, I realize this review is seven months late.