Flash (vol.4) #1 (November, 2011)
Story/Art – Francis Manapul
Story/Colors – Brian Buccellato
Letterer – Sal Cipriano
Assistant Editor – Darren Shan
Editor – Brian Cunningham
Cover Price: $2.99
Had such a good time discussing a Flash #1 yesterday… decided why not go for another? Waitasec… there was a Flash #1 in 2010… and 2011? Did it somehow become a Marvel book?!
Well, no silly… today we’re going to be looking into that cosmic blindspot called The New-52! Everything got relaunched, regardless of pedigree… so, let’s see how much can change in Barry Allen’s world in a single year!
We open in Central City… so far, so good. We’re at a Tech Symposium, and see that Barry Allen is in attendance… with his date, Patty Spivot. They are approached by the man of the hour, Dr. Elias… and they talk about stuff. They don’t talk long, however… as the place is attacked and robbed by some masked baddies, and so… Barry “Flashes up” and bursts into action.
He makes quick work of the group… chasing them back to their escape aircraft to reclaim the tech they’d stolen. He manages to grab the widget just in the nick of time.
Then he, and one of the gang-members plummet from the craft! Before he hits the ground, Barry makes sure to toss the fella through a window of a nearby window. This page is laid out in a really cool way, check it out…
Anyhoo, Barry lands in the sewer below the street… and it’s at this point we get our first look at Iris West, reporter for the Central City Citizen.
Flash returns the stolen tech to Dr. Elias… and returns to Patty’s side. They are alerted to the fact that they’ve “got a body” at the crime scene… and wouldn’tcha know it, it’s that dude Barry tossed through the window. Upon unmasking, we learn that this fella was once a classmate to our Mr. Allen named Manuel.
Now fearing the worst (that he killed this guy), Barry is ambushed by Iris… who’s really after this story. She twists his words in an attempt to confirm that the Flash is responsible for this death. It’s alluded to here that Barry and Iris at least have each others phone numbers… so, they’ve chatted a time or two. It isn’t made clear however, if it was business or social. Either way, Ms. Spivot ain’t keen on Iris’ persistence.
After a brief office scene, we rejoin the Flash atop a building. He is joined by Dr. Elias who assures him that he was not responsible for the death of Manuel.
Later that night, we join Barry at his apartment where he is trying to get to the bottom of things. He soon realizes he’s not alone… a hooded figure is lurking in the corner… Bah God, it’s Vandal Savage! No, no it’s not… it’s actually… Manuel?!
Barry’s apartment is then invaded by (presumably) some baddies… and so, he and Manuel flee down the fire escape. They share some idle chit chat on their run… including a mention of Barry “still” being single… so, that clears up any potential ex-wife Iris confusion.
They run along the riverside for a bit while a couple of men give chase. Barry uses this opportunity to hop into the drink and “Flash up”. When he surfaces, he rejoins his buddy Manuel…s.
A bit disappointing when you compare it to the pure candy we discussed yesterday… but, not really a bad issue.
The way I look at it, Manapul and Buccellato were tasked with only one thing here… unmarry Barry. Which they do. We see that he’s no longer with Iris… he’s instead dating Patty Spivot. During a conversation, Barry’s referred to as “still single”… implying that he and Iris were never married. It really feels like Barry Allen’s “Brand New Day”… and, I’m sorry… just not my cup’a tea.
I’ll be honest… I bought this issue off the rack, and didn’t come back for the next issue. My completist nature forced me to eventually back-fill my collection of course… however, in October of 2011, I did not buy Flash (vol.4) #2.
This issue really gave me “Brand New Day” vibes… especially with what was going on in Amazing Spider-Man at the time. Peter was dating a Patty Spivot-esque girl in the form of Carlie Cooper… which felt almost like a passive-aggressive “eff you” to the fans. Not saying that’s what’s going on here… I mean, if you ask me, The New-52! in and of itself was a gigantic “eff you” to fans… no need to single this issue out.
With this, I got the feeling they split Barry and Iris up just so they could have them find their way to one another. Not a story I feel like we need. This is just like Marvel’s Ultimate line… started off doing kind of its own thing… then settled in on retelling stories we’d already read with a “modern twist”. The entire endeavor feels like a giant waste of time. By the time we get where we’re going… it’ll be time to reboot the line again! That might’ve worked back when comics were affordable… and aimed at a younger audience… but that train’s long left the station.
Perhaps I’m being unfair… I dunno. For the issue itself… well, it’s freaking gorgeous, but with the team in play here, that was never in question. The Flash costume… ehh, Manapul did the best with what he was given. I really hate that little “chin-piece”… looks horrible!
The cliffhanger we get here… ehh… It’s hard to invest in one of Barry’s never-before-mentioned classmates. Why should I care? I feel like they should have given us a more familiar “threat” for this initial outing. Even reading this back today… I have no interest in even picking up and flipping through the second issue… and it’s literally within my arm’s reach right now. Again… no fault of the creators… this is more DC not really having a clue what to do with their relaunched and rebooted universe. I’m not sure they had any clue how they wanted to introduce the Rogues at this point.
Overall… I hate to say it (honest!), but if you ask me… this isn’t something you need to rush out and grab. It’s a shame, because the creative team is amazing… and Barry Allen as the Flash really grew on me during his Brightest Day volume. If you are interested, this has been collected in Flash: Move Forward, and is available digitally (for only a buck!).