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The first of a new arc – one that promises to revitalize one of Flash’s classic villains: the Reverse Flash. However, he really isn’t in this issue all that much. It seems very clear that Manapul and Buccellato are laying the groundwork here, creating a mystery for readers to invest in. In some ways it works and it doesn’t work.
It is good in the fact that the mystery at play dips into what has already happened in the book. The Speed Force survivors (who were highlighted in issues 18 and 19) are being killed off one by one. Of course Barry thinks the remaining survivor, Gomez, is somehow responsible (especially after he goes missing), but that theory is thrown out the window as Gomez is afraid of being killed himself.
It is a solid start for a mystery, especially as it connects directly to Barry and Iris (also Speed Force survivors – well, not Barry so much, but I’m not going to get into that). It gives readers a reason to care (sorry, but small-time side, guest characters don’t quite cut it). It also amps up an urgency. If someone is killing these people, then when is he going to strike at Barry or Iris (especially Iris since Barry has powers and can, hopefully, defend himself)? As of now, Iris does not have any revealed abilities from the Speed Force (seemingly the only person who didn’t – I expect more on this in the future). All of this at play kicks off the story well.
That said, it is also a bit maddening as the reader knows who is doing all of this: the new Reverse Flash. I know the M&B have to tell the story like this, but as a reader who is aware of the hype (in the media and in The Flash comic itself) surrounding the new villain, you just want the story to get there already. This was part of the frustration I had with The Amazing Spider-Man last summer (lets speed this origin along; can we get to Spider-Man already?). Maybe it is a lack of patience or too much excitement on my part. I don’t know, but I cannot deny that thought was there.
Going back to the positives, Manapul is back on art. Yay. Also, there was some nice character development with Patty and Barry’s relationship. They are moving in together. I am glad to see this is going forward. I still somewhat think their relationship does not feel as developed as it could be, but, then again, a lot of it likely happened “off-panel”, so I am willing to let it slide and just enjoy the ride. Besides, who wants to pick up a superhero comic and read nothing but relationship drama? Still annoyed with Patty’s jealousy over Iris, but it looks like this will remain.
We also get a brief reference to Daniel West. What is the point of this character? I am sure something will happen with him, but he feels so superfluous right now.
Anyway…this was a good opening chapter. Hopefully, it ends up delivering. I am excited to see where the new Reverse Flash will take us and what M&B will do with him to differentiate him from the other characters to carry that name.
I am also extremely looking forward to what next month promises us (which is something I have been waiting for since the start of the New 52)!
Next: The Frist Meeting between Flash & Kid Flash (Spoiler! It Does Not Go Well.)