THE FLASH #768/ Script by JEREMY ADAMS/ Art by BRANDON PETERSON, MARCO SANTUCCI & DAVID LAFUENTE/ Color Art by MIKE ATIYEH, ARIF PRIANTO & LUIS GUERRERO/ Letters by STEVE WANDS/ Cover by BRANDON PETERSON & MIKE ATIYEH/ Alternate Cover by IAN MACDONALD/ Published by DC COMICS
Wally West was the Fastest Man Alive. He was a husband. He was a father. He was a killer. And he was redeemed. Now, he intends to retire from the superhero business, to focus on the family he fought so hard to win back. If only it were that simple…
Something went wrong as Wally and his mentor Barry Allen were trying to sever his connection to the Speed Force. Something that sent Wally back in time, putting his mind inside the body of a caveman in a world full of super-fast dinosaurs! Now Barry, Green Arrow and Mister Terrific have to find a way to bring Wally back before he becomes the Fastest Man Dead!
I was fully prepared to dislike this issue based on what I knew going into it. I didn’t like the idea of the classic Wally West retiring after we finally… FINALLY… got him back to being an honest-to-goodness hero after everything that happened in Heroes in Crisis was explained away as Reverse Flash screwing with Barry Allen and his legacy. AGAIN.
I found even more to dislike as I read the story and was presented with a Green Arrow who was still holding a grudge over Wally West being allowed to go live a normal life with his family while nobody seemed to care about the people he killed. (Especially Roy Harper. Cough. Cough.)
And when I realized the new writer on one of my favorite series was Jeremy Adams, whose work on Future State I found… less than enjoyable, well, I was expecting a bad time all around after the first few pages.
It didn’t come.
In fact, I dare say, this reminded me of the kind of Flash comics Mark Waid and Geoff Johns used to write. Not because Adams restored the Green Arrow/Flash frienemy relationship that existed just before the New 52 reboot. And not just because of the focus on Wally West.
This issue possesses a sense of weird fun that, in retrospect, was rarely apparent in Joshua Williamson’s tightly-plotted Rebirth series. Williamson focused on characters and mythology, with nary a story devoted to what I’ve heard others call Silver-Age Silliness. It’s as good a term as any I can think of, though I think I say it with more of a wry grin than those who coined it.
Make no mistake; placing Wally West in a caveman’s body ala Quantum Leap and pitting him against speedster raptors is a profoundly silly idea, even ignoring that humans and dinosaurs didn’t originally exist in the same time period. (I’m pretty sure this is the case even in the current DCU, but I could be wrong.) But it is also a fun idea that leads to some fantastic visuals. And talking of the visuals, there are three separate art teams that produced some fantastic artwork for this issue.
Brandon Peterson and Mike Atiyeh tackle the present-day scenes with heroic imagery and bright colors, though a few of Peterson’s poses seem forced. The flashbacks with Wally in the past by Marco Santucci and Arif Prianto paint a vibrant picture of a land before time and the dinosaurs look amazing. The final pages by David Laufuente and Luis Guerrero (in which Wally jumps into the future and Impulse’s body) present a brighter yet more muted view of the future, which boldly contrasts with the vivid savagery of the past scenes.
While I need a few more issues to judge, this new direction for The Flash is not the complete disaster I feared it would be. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but it is indicative of how I felt given my high standards for the series and anything involving Green Arrow in a supporting role. Adams’ perfectly captures the essence of these characters’ voices and the art team bring his script to life wonderfully. I can’t wait to see the next issue.