Flash (vol.2) #153 (1999)

Flash (vol.2) #153 (October, 1999)
“The Folded Man”
Story – Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn
Pencils – Paul Pelletier
Inks – Jose Marzan, Jr.
Letters – Gaspar
Colors – Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor – Frank Berrios
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $1.99

Welcome back to The Dark Flash Saga, a little story arc that might only be exciting to me… but, whattayagonnado?

After our exciting start yesterday, things are going to become a bit more procedural with this chapter.  Is that a good thing?  Well, let’s take a look and find out.

We open on a Monday.  A pair of police are attempting to arrest a man named Edwin Gauss for computer theft.  Seems kinda odd to have only two officers there to make the arrest… though, I suppose it’s not as if they knew that Edwin Gauss has actually become the Folded Man!  The baddie uses his odd dimensional powers and grabs Officer Lou by the head… crushing it!

We jump ahead to Thursday… when Lou is being laid to rest.  The new Flash rushes in to check on how Angela Whatsherface is taking things.  We learn here that the new Flash has been on the scene for about a month… and has struck up something of a romantic relationship with the Forensics Expert.

Flash sweeps her off her feet, and runs her all the way to Paris for a coffee.  It’s plainly clear that this isn’t the first time they’ve made the trip.  We do learn that, despite how close they’ve become over the past four weeks, she still hasn’t the foggiest idea who’s under the mask.  She compares that to how “open” Wally-Flash had been… but new Flash squashes any discussion of that guy.

As they talk, I notice something that I totally missed last issue.  This new Flash has a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his left cheek.  I actually re-flipped through Flash #152 just now, and… yup, it was there too!  I just missed it.  I guess there’s some points for subtlety… or poor eyesight.  Anyhoo, new-Flash mentions that just before his arrival, he was responsible for another Speedster losing their life.

What he doesn’t know is… Impulse is nearby listening in on the whole discussion… and transmitting it all back to Max Mercury and Jesse Quick.  Max suggests that the “other Speedster” nuFlash is referring to might be Wally… which leads him to deduce that nuFlash might just be Barry Allen.  Bart brings up “Linda” again… but is ignored.

Speaking of Linda… after falling through the oblivion of time, she finally lands… in Keystone City?!  She immediately finds Wally… and they embrace right then and there.

Suddenly, they find themselves surrounded by… some bubble-masked future-cops (?)  I dunno.  They refer to Wally as “Walter”, and he claims that they’ve been after him “for years”.  Linda watches as Wally’s eyes briefly change color…

… then, he changes into the Flash, and trounces the bubble-maskers.  At this point, Linda realizes… wherever she is, she’s anywhere but home.

Back in the present, nuFlash and Angela pay a visit to Devlin Bridges, the man whose tech Gauss the Folding Man had stolen.  He’s doing all sortsa “techie” stuff… like talking to invisible people, and typing on invisible keyboards.  I really hope he doesn’t stick around too long.  Anyhoo, he explains that Edwin Gauss is a Quantum Physicist on par with Mr. Terrific of the JSA.  He’s been trying to complete some of Einstein’s research on Unified Field Theory (seems easy enough, right?).  Anyhoo again, he’s used Bridges’ technology to craft a suit for dimensional travel.

Just then… speak of the devil, the Folding Man appears!  He’s a… uh… man of few words, no?

After some fighting… and maybe the sending of a Bridges Staffer into literal limbo… the storytelling isn’t quite clear here… the Folding Man kinda recoils a bit, giving nuFlash enough time to snap up Devlin and Angelica and run them to safety.  It’s really kinda wonky… and, I’m not sure exactly what happened here.  Here, you take a look:

Yeah… these panels are consecutive…

Outside, Devlin explains the Folding Man’s powers using rocks and sticks… the basic jist is, Edwin Gauss can be anywhere!

… Including right there!  The Folding Man reappears, and we get some more fighting.  Angela suggests “cutting the power” to the suit… to which, Devlin breaks the news that the suit is… self-sufficient! Ruh-roh.  Just then, the baddie creeps up behind Angela… and as nuFlash runs in to make the save… he gets punched real good by a giant unfolded fist.

We wrap up with nuFlash coming to… in the Fourth Dimension!

This was… just another issue of Flash, right?  Doesn’t really feel like there’s to see here.  Sure, we’ve still got the whole “Who is this Flash?” thing going on… but, that kinda took a backseat (or, perhaps a side-seat) to the Folding Man situation.

Now, I’m not suggesting for a minute that I thought that this nuFlash was ever going to be The Flash… but, this was a pretty good way of showing us how “business as usual” might go if that were to be the case.  It almost forces us to “move on”… and, in that regard, this was pretty well done.

Of course we’ve still got the time-lost Linda… and now, a wrinkle featuring a weird eye-color changing Walter West who’s been hounded by bubble-masked cops “for years”.  So, yeah… it’s still peculating… it’s just not our main focus (yet).

So… let’s try and wrap our heads around Who this Fella is… without, ya know… spoiling anything (to the best of my ability).  At this point, I see there being a case for the following three speedsters:

The case for Barry Allen:

  • He claims to have been responsible for the death of another Speedster (assumed, by Max Mercury, to be Wally)
  • He’s dating a very Patty Spivot-y woman
  • He feels older
  • Remember, he has “Barry’s Personal Effects” inside the Obelisk
The case for Wally West:
  • Last we saw him, he was left in the 30th Century… so, aging is a definite possibility
  • This is still Wally’s book
  • Wally’s journals are in the Obelisk… and I don’t recall him keeping a diary up to this point, those could be entries yet to come
  • He keeps up his membership with the JLA and Titans
  • It’s mentioned that he unmasked for Donna Troy (over in Titans)
The case for Bart Allen:
  • Impulse was briefly a member of the New Titans, so unmasking for Donna Troy could fit for him as well
  • The Flash as a “legacy” mantle… Bart would be next in line for the title
  • The fact that nuFlash is the complete opposite of Bart… indicating that he might’ve “seen some stuff” that matured him up real quick

Of course, Google is right there… but, where’s the fun in that?  Let’s just pretend it’s still 1999.

Now, for the story itself… like I said during the open, it felt “procedural”.  Not “must reading”, but not bad either.  It almost feels like a bit of a misdirection.  Instead of a deeper investigation on nuFlash, we get a “villain of the month”.  It works for what it is… but, can’t help but feel a little let down coming off of last issue.

The art… it’s still Paul Pelletier, and it’s still pretty great.  The only hiccup (for me) was that scene at Bridges’ office… the storytelling gets a bit hinky there, though that might be chalked up to my own density.  That’s always a possibility.

Overall… we’ve getting a bit of a slow build here, but I’d say this one’s still worth a look.  I wouldn’t suggest reading this one cold… however, if you’re interested in The Dark Flash Saga, you’re going to want to check this chapter out.

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