Flash (vol.5) #1 (2016)

Flash (vol.5) #1 (August, 2016)
“Lightning Strikes Twice, Part One: Deus Ex Machina”
Writer – Joshua Williamson
Artist – Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colorist – Ivan Placsencia
Letterer – Steve Wands
Assistant Editor – Amedeo Turturro
Editor – Brian Cunningham
Cover Price: $2.99

We’re on a bit of a roll with Flash #1’s’s’s’s… so, let’s wrap it up with the fifth (and as of this writing) final Flash #1.  Man, I really hope this is the last one for awhile… but you can never be too sure.

Hell, we just learned that Superman is being relaunched… again.  Hopefully that isn’t a sign of things to come for the rest of the DC line.  Hey, at least Action Comics is getting an issue #1001 though… I was pretty doubtful of that since Rebirth first hit!

Anyhoo… if you wanna check out my previous Flash #1 Discussion and and Reviews, click’em the covers below!

I don’t see myself coming across a Flash Comics #1 anytime soon… so this’ll have to suffice for now!

We open with a quick and dirty retelling of Barry being hit by that fateful bolt of lightning.  There’s a new wrinkle here, however… for this telling, he wasn’t alone… there was another fella there, an officer named August.  The lightning strikes just as he leaves the room.  The sound, and likely the screams (though Barry doesn’t get any dialogue) draw his attention… and he returns to find his buddy in a bad way.

Back in the present, Barry is racing through the streets of Central City… recounting some recent events.  He is happy to finally remember his old friend Wally West (ya know, the real one)… and misses him since he rejoined the Titans.  He saves a few lives on his way back to the office, where he finds a pretty brutal crime scene.

His new/old buddy August is there, along with a new face… CSI Kristen.  Barry examines the scene and rules out a botched robbery because nothing of value was taken.  He soon realizes that he has a lunch date with Iris and Wally (the, not real one)… and rushes off, leaving Kristen in charge.

Barry meets up with the Wests, though he isn’t the best of company… his mind is very clearly elsewhere.  It’s his refusal to ask for help that causes him to get overwhelmed.  Iris has some pretty sage words of wisdom… ones that I relate to in my own life, “some people try so hard to do everything that they end up doing nothing.”  Yikes, tell me that doesn’t hit kinda close to home for many of you.  Anyhoo, eventually police cars race by… and Wally (who has been on his tablet the entire time) informs Barry that there are currently two crises occurring.

Rather than choose which folks to help… Barry Flashes up and decides to try and save ’em all!  He decides to head to a burning building first, because the second crisis already has a police presence.  Barry winds up saving everyone from the inferno.

This, unfortunately, makes him literally seconds too late to arrive at the stand-off… and he is there just in time to see his buddy August get shot!

… Or not.  Just as the bullet is headed his way, August is blasted with a very familiar bolt of lightning.

We wrap up with August, Barry, and myself wondering just what in the hell is going on… 

There’s something called the “law of diminishing returns”, right?  Usually discussed in an Economics class… but, I think we can apply it here.

Over the past three days we’ve discussed three different Flash #1’s (all from this same decade, sadly)… and with each one, I find myself enjoying it less.  That’s not really an indictment on the issues themselves… but the direction of the industry.

I’ve mentioned before… likely during a rant against Marvel’s constant relaunchings/renumberings.  The entire endeavor feels like a folly.  You can’t launch a Fantastic Four #1 in 2013 (and 2014… and 2015)… and treat it like it’s a brand new franchise.  There is still over sixty years of history there.

People know that.  Comic fans get a lot of guff (usually from comic pros and “journalists”), but we’re not stupid.  There’s a reason why these constant reboots aren’t working as well today as they did five, ten years ago.

Let’s take this issue of the Flash.  Here’s a fella named August, who lost his partner during the previous volume of the title.  Now, if you came along for Rebirth… you wouldn’t know (nor care) about any of that.  I mean, you buy a book called Flash, you probably wanna read about a guy in red who runs real fast.  This, as a #1 issue, should be as clean a start as possible.  That’s not to say we can’t address August a couple months down the line… but, this is supposed to be something of an “elevator pitch” for prospective new readers.

Just the other day, we discussed the Brightest Day volume… and it was wonderful.  Steeped in continuity, sure… but written in such a way that it would be difficult to find yourself lost.  Yesterday we chatted up The New-52! volume, and despite the fact that it didn’t quite “grab” me, I can’t say that I felt lost (well, maybe “lost” in the sense that I had no idea what DC Comics was thinking… but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle o’ whatever).  This issue though?  There was no reason for this to have a #1 on its cover.

Which brings me to my next complaint (that has very little to do with this issue, but indulge me)… line-wide relaunches need to stop.  Granted, I’m no WB/Disney bean-counter… and honestly, don’t care about how much money they’re making on movies/tv/underoos/whatever… I’m just coming at this as a long-time reader and collector, and so, this is just a self-serving rant.

Narratively speaking, I feel that line-wide relaunches do not work unless you go full tabula rasa.  With Rebirth, we got a whole slew of new #1’s… which were mostly just continuations of their New-52! predecessors.  Sure, there were new books… and things like Superman (which, hell… new guy in the suit… new #1, I get that)… but for books like Flash (and many others), it was completely unnecessary.

This issue… wasn’t a bad one… but did not warrant a new #1.  The cliffhanger here… I dunno, I don’t know this August guy… and really can’t say that I care about what happened/happens to him.  The highlight for me was the brief scene between Barry and Iris, where Wally calls them out for flirting.  That felt real… that felt comfortable.

The art.  Ehhhhhhh… it’s not bad, but I don’t like it at all.  My first exposure to Di Giandomenico’s work was on All-New X-Factor… and I found it completely off-putting.  I will say he’s improved from there… even though the runs weren’t all that far apart time-wise.  Either way, it’s not for me… and, I don’t feel like it fit the Flash in the slightest.

Overall… here’s another Flash #1 that I don’t feel is “must reading”.  My reading of this volume has been spotty at best… just can’t “get into it”.  It’s a shame really, as prior to Flashpoint… the Flash books were always toward the top of my stack.  Well, maybe that’s not entirely fair… before Flashpoint most of the DC books I read were toward the top.

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