With Flash #1, the central character of Flashpoint makes his debut as part of the DCnU and we end up getting a Flash that’s similar to the Bary Allen at the beginning of the Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul run except that he’s not married. But this isn’t a bad thing. Johns’ run on Flash was wrought with delays and that was literally the only thing stopping it from really being a top tier title for DC. Now artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have taken the reins of the Speedforce.
It only takes about five pages for us to meet the Flash. This is no origin story. In place of one we get a paragraph of text that sums it up neatly allowing us to commence with the running fast and the forensic science. Bravo Manapul and Buccellato. Rather than have an origin story or a hero sulking about his past (here’s looking at you Aquaman), the writers have done exactly what most of the best books in the relaunch have done: get us into a story.
Manapul and Buccellato use Barry’s forensic science background to frame story much in same way Johns did. Instead of telling a straight superhero story or a Batman-esque mystery, they use Barry’s forsenic skills to have him try to figure out his problems without having to be the Flash. Considering we only got 12 issues of the Johns run, this approach is a nice continuation but one that I hope will evolve as the series goes on.
The marriage of Barry and Iris West was something that a lot of fans thought shouldn’t have been taken away but it’s absence is allowing Manapul and Buccellato to write their own account of the beginnings of their relationship. So far it’s working out quite well. Despite Iris being a reporter and Barry being a superhero, there is no Lois/Superman type of thing going on. Because of events in the first issue, it seems that Iris almost wants to take down the Flash in the media.
For their first time out, Manapul and Buccellato have given us the beginnings of a story that has a lot of potential. They also have the a lot of Speedster mythology to work with since Barry seems to be the only one and older fans are practically begging for Wally West to show up.
The art is absolutely stunning. Manapul has a talent for cartooning that is absolutely unmatched by most artists in the business. The clarity of his lines and the effectiveness of his storytelling make every splash page that much more important and even the tiniest thumbnail gets across a surprising amount of information. And while everyone is going gaga for J.H. Williams III’s page layouts, Manapul is no slouch. Manapul is much more traditional but I don’t know if I’ve seen clearer pages that have 11 panels.
Buccellato is his partner on colors as well. He makes Central City and its citizens very distinct from Gotham or Metropolis. The world of the Flash is muted, allowing for Barry himself to standout whenever he’s in his suit. It makes us see the world probably the way the Flash does, not a blur but in slow motion.
It’s clear that Manapul and Buccellato have put a lot of work in this book. Many times when artists become writer/artists many fans fear for the worst and brace for delays but these two have a great handle on Barry’s character and his world of story so hopefully they can keep it on track. And while they seem to be working from a formula that worked before, they will have plenty of chances to stretch their legs and really make a mark on this character if they want to.
WRITING: 3.5 / ART: 5 / OVERALL: 4.25