Flash (vol.5) #23 (2017)

Flash (vol.5) #23 (July, 2017)
“The Color of Fear, Part One: Hello”
Writer – Joshua Williamson
Artist – Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors – Ivan Plascencia
Letters – Steve Wands
Associate Editor – Amedeo Turturro
Editor – Brian Cunningham
Cover Price: $2.99

Hey everybody, I come to you today… one-year older… one-year wiser?  Ehh, one-year older.

For yes, today is my thirty-coughth birthday… and to celebrate, we’re going to take a look at an issue featuring Barry Allen’s Birthday Blowout!

We open in the 25th Century, at the Flash Museum.  A voice is narrating over a visual of some familiar-looking costumes… and when it gets to Eobard Thawne, it reveals that the future remembers him as the Flash’s best friend!  Well, we know better than that.  Back in the present, Barry is in the S.T.A.R. Labs Morgue, where he stands over the crunchy and dehydrated corpse of Thawne.  Remember he was zapped by some baby-blue energy during The Button.  Barry’s convinced that Thawne isn’t dead… just severely slowed-down.  His little monologue is interrupted by a pair of lab techs… and so he leaves.  That’s okay though, he’s actually got somewhere else to be anyway!

Like his Birthday Party!

After getting the big Surprise!”, the guests seem to all go back to their business.  Forrest approaches Barry to talk his ear off, during which he can’t help but flash back to the recent The Button arc.  The man with the tin hat… Batman’s Flashpoint letter from Thomas Wayne… ya know, all that stuff.

Barry watches Wallace walk by, and mentions that they’re not on the best of terms at the moment… he wants Barry to tell Iris that he’s the Flash.  All he can think about though, is how much danger that might put her in.  With folks like Thawne in the Universe, anyone who knows the secret is put at risk!  He imagines Zoom busting through this very Birthday Party… and murdering everyone there in a matter of microseconds.

Singh and Hartley head over to snap Barry out of his daydream… but can’t get him to reveal what he’d been thinking about.  Henry Allen makes an attempt, which is just as unsuccessful.

Then, a very special guest arrives, with a regifted model plane under his arm… Hal Jordan!  The Hard-Travel… er, wait, that’s not them.

Hal is introduced to Iris, and does that whole “You’re too good for this guy” routine, before she starts to harangue Barry about being distracted during his party.  An uncomfortable Hal actually wishes for an alien invasion (under his breath) in order to interrupt this discussion… 

… and he almost gets his wish!  Though, instead of aliens… it’s just a whole lotta Multiplex!

Barry and Hal rush off to change into their “work duds”.  On the way, Barry asks Wallace to bring Iris home right away.  Wally puts up a struggle… and reminds me of the way he’s depicted in the Teen Titans book… as one of the worst characters ever!  Just punch this little goof, Barry!

After a pretty lazy two-page spread of Flash and Green Lantern in costume (I mean, it’s just the two of them in front of a flare-y computer background… did we really need to waste two pages?), we find out that Multiplex is there looking for a girl he’s fallen in love with.  She insists that they’ve only had a single drink together at this point… so, our man Danton’s what we in the biz call a “fast worker”… or, a “damned creep”, either descriptor works.

Flash and Lantern show up and start cleaning house.  Unfortunately, Multi-plex won’t quit multi-plying… until finally, he becomes like… just a mass of multies.  Like, ya know when someone shines a light in a cave, and something like a billion spiders scatter away?  Like that.

While Hal and Barry deal with that… Wally brings Iris back to the “safety” of her home.  Only one problem with that… somebody’s waiting for them!

Ya know… I really wanted to be “all in” on the post-Rebirth Flash book, but it felt like every time I cracked open an issue, I’d see some evil speedster staring back at me.  Felt like every time out, Barry would have to fight someone who might be faster than him… which isn’t a bad idea, but… feels just so overdone at this point.

I remember this issue in particular.  When I get my bundle of books from DCBS every month or so, I enter them into my obsessive-Excel spreadsheet.  Part of that is getting issue titles (which more books need to use these days!) and the writer and artist.  Upon flipping to the last-page (where too many books now put their credits) I’m faced with Eobard Thawne.  C’mon… again/still?  And, I gotta say… I was so damned excited for this issue to see how they’d follow up The Button.

Is this some sort of “thing” from the Flash TV show?  Is it just Barry fighting an “evil speedster of the week” every time out?  Because, lemme tell ya… this is getting tiresome!

Let’s talk Thawne for a bit.  I swear, the only time I was able to make sense of/differentiate between what a Professor Zoom and Reverse-Flash was, was during the middle-part of the Geoff Johns run.  I’m so far removed from all that, that I couldn’t, with any authority, speak to who’s who and what’s what.  I could’ve sworn they were two different guys… but, now they’re not?  Can’t really hold this against them, not having read as much of the recent stuff as I perhaps should.

I mentioned a “lazy two-page spread” during the synopsis.  Now, I hate judging art… not being much of an artist myself, I feel weird about giving an opinion one way or another.  Though, Di Giandomenico really ain’t one of my favorites.  I recall his work making All-New X-Factor over at Marvel rather a chore to read.  Though, if I’m being honest, the story wasn’t exactly great shakes in that book either.

That “spread” though… just feels so unnecessary.  I can only assume that Di Giandomenico really wanted to draw a big image of Hal and Barry in costume… or, the writer assumed this would look a lot better than it actually did.  I’ll include it below… 

We discussed a post-Rebirth issue last week as part of the Twelve Days of Christmas on Infinite Earths.  During that piece, I mentioned how much better nu-Wally was written here than in Teen Titans… where he is often the worst thing on the page.  Well, that’s all changed here.  It’s not quite as bad as in Titans, but he’s really so very annoying here.

It must sound like I hated this issue, huh?  Well, no… I thought all of the Barry stuff was great.  Loved how he was so lost in thought that his own narration boxes were cutting off other peoples’ dialogue balloons… that’s a great little detail that I appreciated.

Also, the Barry stuff is just the most interesting… especially coming off The Button, lackluster ending and all… it was still (supposedly) the “next step” in the Rebirthening of the DC Universe.  Well, hopefully Doomsday Clock will be done within the next 2-3 years so we might finally see what the “next step” could be.

Overall… a fine issue, though disappointing if you were expecting any concrete follow-up to The Button.  The art is a bit distracting and Wally is a little jerk.  Other than that though, this could be worth a look.

The Two-Page Spread:

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