By Andy Frisk
April 18, 2010 - 00:02
The restoration of the Silver Age of comics is complete at DC Comics. Hal Jordan is the greatest Green Lantern, Superman’s origin has been rebooted with a Silver Age tinge to it, and Barry Allen is working for the Central City Police Department as its slowest working, but overall best, forensic scientist and fastest crime fighter, The Flash. In reality DC Comics hasn’t restored the Silver Age as much as launched headlong into a sort of Neo-Silver Age (as I suggested here) Bringing back Hal Jordan was a no brainer which lead to the best DC Universe event crossovers in years with Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night. Bringing back Barry Allen and, well…restoring him to a place in the DCU of interest if not prominence, has been…ok so far. Geoff Johns has attempted to inject the character of Barry Allen/The Flash with some special prominence as the DCU’s premier speedster by making him the generator of the “enigmatic energy called The Speed Force, able to be tapped into by others throughout time who share his sense of justice” instead of one of the many speedsters and Flashes to exist the DCU who just access The Speed Force. Making one character the creator or “generator” of The Speed Force rather than just another who taps into it seems a little pretentious, if not a tad precocious, but it does definitely add a bit of a higher level of importance to a character who has been “dead” for 20 plus years and would risk lacking any sense of preeminence or distinguishing status if he simply just became The Flash again. After all, it feels like speedsters in the DCU are a dime a dozen, and there have been two characters to inherit and bear the moniker of The Flash since Barry “died.” One of which has been The Flash to a whole generation: the much beloved Wally West. (Don’t forget, Jay Garrick, The Original Flash has been running around-literally-all this time as well.)
Barry is back though, and the original Silver Age hero has been set up to be The Flash of the next generation. The Flash #1 does a good job of introducing him again as Central City’s #1 crime fighter while highlighting aspects of the character that make him unique and fun to watch in action. He battles a rogue (one of The Rogues of Flash comic book fame), saves the life of some innocent bystanders (in an admittedly cool way), gets back on the job as a forensic scientist, runs into a time spanning murder mystery, and is late to meet his beloved Iris for a dinner date, of course. All of the classic Silver Age characteristics of a Barry Allen Flash story are in place, with the contemporary realism of our modern age of comics mixed in. A murder is committed and Barry examines the body, not something you’d most likely have seen in a Silver Age Flash story, but commonplace (and rightly so) in the Neo-Silver Age.
Artist Francis Manapul, fresh off his stint on Adventure Comics does an admirable job of handling the penciling and inking side of Barry’s solo book re-launch. Manapul’s style is the direct opposite of Luke Ross’ hyper detailed and realistic work on Marvel Comics’ Captain America with its less detailed and more cartoon-like look, but it fits The Flash perfectly. The Flash(es) were always a bit more lighthearted and fun as characters (to me at least) while not being silly or childish, and Manapul’s style captures this quality of the character(s) quite well. The Flash is a uniquely powered super hero and Manapul is a uniquely talented artist so they pair up nicely.
How lighthearted and fun a Flash title starring Barry Allen as The Flash will turn out to be remains to be seen. The Flash doesn’t need to be chocked full of giggle and goofiness (Wally’s run as The Flash definitely wasn’t always), but Barry’s a bit of a “carrier of the world on his shoulders” type, especially after all the brooding he did in Flash Rebirth and Blackest Night, so lightheartedness might be a bit of a stretch for him to achieve. Johns and Manapul manage to inject some fun into Barry’s re-debut issue though, so there might be some fun Flash stories ahead. Let’s at least hope so.
Rating: 8 /10