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And we have reached the conclusion to the “Reverse” story arc in which everything is pretty much resolved. Daniel’s plot is thwarted, Barry makes it to Patty’s parents wedding party, and Iris recovers from her ordeal (and loses the powers). The tale wraps up in a nice little bow with a firm “The End” on the final page. I’ve had some mixed feeling about this arc since it began. For starters, it felt like it spun its wheels a bit too much at the beginning including a detour with Kid Flash. But then the last few issues really kicked up the pace. With this issue, the villain is defeated within the nine pages and the rest served as wrap-up.
While I am glad that the book dedicated itself to tying up various character bits (this is really where Manapul and Buccellato shined, in my opinion), I cannot help but feel that the story itself was a bit anti-climactic. In reality, Daniel is defeated due to Barry giving him a lecture about moving on. I don’t mind the writers to do something else beyond a giant fight, but I just didn’t fully buy into the effectiveness of it. The idea that Daniel was going to become a bigger monster if killed his father in the past (time ripple effects and such) is fantastic, but it seemed as if, after stopped, it didn’t do any good.
There is a disconnect for me as Daniel was resigned to the fact that he had to have the Flash undo the damage to the past he caused, but then Daniel screams that he’ll find a way to do it again. I realize DC Comics will want to reuse him in the future as a villain for the scarlet speedster, but this resolution just didn’t quite work the way I think the writers wanted to.
I guess some of this has to do as using Daniel as a villain. I am not entirely convinced that he really worked. Don’t get me wrong, I liked his origin and it makes total sense on why he became evil. It is just that his pre-Reverse Flash appearances seemed un-villain like in that he was hoping to change and make things right with the relationship with his sister. I know villains typically don’t seem themselves as villains; it just seems like such a character shift. What I need to do is to go back and re-read those early appearances to see if I missed something that was there, but could only be caught upon a re-reading.
Like my thoughts on the conclusion to the “Gorilla Warfare” arc, I almost wonder if it would have been better if issues 23 and 24 were combined into one double-sized issue. Perhaps some of my anti-climactic criticism would evaporate if that was the case. Then again, given the Villains’ Month issue featuring Daniel’s origin must take place for narrative purposes between 23 and 24, this theory is purely academic.
This issue also marks the end of Manapul and Buccellato’s “present day” adventures of the Flash (their final issue together will be next month’s 25, but that is a flashback issue). That “The End” on the final page not only signals the conclusion to “Reverse”, but to M&B’s adventures of the Flash. I guess then is struck me odd that they would introduce a subplot in the final pages with Barry reopening his mother’s murder investigation to Patty’s disappointment. Then again, it was also recently announced that Buccellato will return to writer three more issues on his own to resolve any lingering plot threads from his and Manapul’s run, so that might be addressed there.
But, I don’t really want to piss on that so much. The final few pages has Barry narrating to himself the whole theme of Manapul and Buccellato’s run: Moving Forward. This, of course, ties into Daniel’s motivation: he couldn’t move forward with his unfortunate past. Bringing it all back to this one theme introduced in the first issue:
My mom once told me that “life is locomotion…if you’re not moving, you’re not living. But there comes a time when you’ve got to stop running away from things and you’ve got to start running towards something, you’ve got to forge ahead.”
This exemplifies what M&B’s run has been about, and that lesson is brought back to the forefront with Daniel rejecting that notion and doing, essentially, the reverse. Barry reflecting on it again is the perfect way to close out this era of Flash adventures.
Next: Zero Year