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This is the second collection of the 2010-2011 The Flash series. Written by Geoff Johns with alternating artwork by Francis Manapul and Scott Kolins (more on that below), we are treated two tales which will ultimately lead readers up to the 2011 summer crossover event, Flashpoint.
The first is a single issue focusing on the Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne. Here, the villain is attempting to rewrite his life by going back and changing certain things in order to be happy. He prevents his younger brother’s birth, kills several suitors of a would-be girlfriend (and then mentally handicaps said girl when she rejects his affections), kill his parents when they begin to question his work, etc. Of course, Thawne’s past-self doesn’t know things are changing; we the readers do. It is through this way that makes Thawne’s life really sad. He just cannot catch a break even with his future self “helping” him.
Scott Kolins’s are here works, I feel. He doesn’t go for a Normal Rockwell photo-realistic look, and the darker shading accompanying the pencils really helps sell the darkness of this character. This is Kolins shining, as far as I am concerned.
Then we get to the bulk of the collection: the “Hot Pursuit” storyline. In it, we find a new speedster, Hot Pursuit, who is Barry Allen from a parallel world. He is searching for someone who is distorting the timeline (which will have ramifications for all the parallel worlds). He thinks it is Bart Allen, aka Kid Flash, and the Flash is intent on finding the real culprit. It (possibly) reveals himself to be the Reverse Flash who has been experimenting with his speed abilities. I say possibly since, as we will eventually learn in Flashpoint, they guy behind the timeline change was not the speedster villain.
There is also a subplot of Barry distancing himself from his family. I felt this odd considering it was implied that all of Barry’s misgivings about his past and himself were resolved in The Flash: Rebirth, and he shows no signs of this during The Dastardly Death of the Rogues. I guess it could be argued that Barry’s trip through the mirror world in Dastardly Death affected him, but that is never hinted at nor referenced here. It was strange.
Beyond that, the story is okay. I wish more was done with Hot Pursuit before he was unceremoniously killed off. It was interesting to see more of a hard-edged Barry. I wonder what his world was like and how different the other DC characters we all know and love are. I guess we’ll never know.
The major problem I have with this story arc is the art. Francis Manapul is his usual greatness, but due to whatever reason, he alternated issues with Scott Kolins (the Scott Kolins I do not care much for). Here is the major problem with it – Kolins and Manapul’s art styles could not be more different from one another. The switch is jarring and takes me completely out of the story.
And that is disappointing, as The Road to Flashpoint is not a bad story. I liked what they were doing, and it was great to see the entire “Flash family” together again. It was also great saying Barry and Bart team-up as those characters had never truly done that before. The alternating art is the downer for me to the point that it discourages me from picking up and reading through the collection. I get that it needed to be done, but the end result with the art just didn’t quite work.
So, those of you keeping count, I’ve done Rebirth, The Dastardly Death of the Rogues, and The Road to Flashpoint. Anyone want to guess what is coming next?