Flash Forward #4 (February, 2020)
“Flash of Two Worlds”
Script – Scott Lobdell
Pencils – Brett Booth
Inks – Norm Rapmund
Colors – Luis Guerrero
Letters – ALW’s Troy Peteri
Associate Edits – Ben Meares
Edits – Paul Kaminski
Group Edits – Ben Abernathy
Cover Price: $3.99
Couple’a observations before we begin. First: Scott Lobdell has been credited only for the “Script” this entire time… which might absolve him a bit from this debacle.
Also… check it out… two new editors, four issues into a six-issue miniseries! Does it get more “Afterthought” than that? I mean, this is supposed to be a “straw that stirs the drink” sort of series, right? To drop it into another editor’s lap halfway through does not speak much to how much DC cared about it. Which begs the question… why in all hells am I still wasting my time with it?
Uhhh… I don’t have an answer to that.
Welp, least there’s a(nother) Snickers ad!
We open at Wally’s house, and it’s early in the morning. He is attacked by… well, his kids… it’s tickle-monster time! Linda enters the bedroom with some breakfast in bed for her hubby… the kids bust out of the room before the “gross” breakfast date can begin. Wally and Linda embrace talking about just how perfect their life together is… and, then… well, the other show drops. Wally’s world is suddenly smothered in that Dark Matter… and, in an instant, his whole world disappears.
We next join Wally embroiled in a battle with… yawn… SuperDemon-Etrigan. Yeesh, Vampires last issue… the friggin’ Demon this issue? If this isn’t a recipe for disinterest, I don’t know what it is! He deduces that the “perfect day” with the family was nothing more than a memory… that is to say, it didn’t just happen.
As Wally’s being choked out, we flash back to a little earlier at the Incursion Point. We actually get an illustration of just what is going on here… the Dark Matter is attempting to merge Earths. Not sure if that was made clear earlier on… or, if I was just too dense/too disinterested to catch on. The Dark Matter is joining Earths in the Multiverse (which would account for President Superman and the Fake-Ass Avengers occupying the same space back in Chapter Two. Anyhoo, the two Earths we’re dealing with now are Earth-13 and Earth-32. Which ones are they? Who cares! It’s just more weak, half-assed interchangeable alterna-Earths that don’t matter in the slightest!
In the “present”, the Metas from both Earths… well, they fight. It eats up a few pages, including a two-page spread… which speaks a bit to the fact that this story does not require a half-dozen issues to be told. Anyhoo, while the fight commences, Etrigan shakes the stuffing out of Wally… causing him to drop his Tempus-Rod-Thingie. Lucky for him, Lightspeed is nearby to pick the thing up! Wally vibrates out of the Demon’s grip to check in with his alternate Earth wife.
So yeah, Lightspeed. This is the Linda Park of Earth-23… and I think this might be her first appearance. She’s easy to conflate with other speedsters though, considering nearly every Flash story from the past decade has to do with Barry either teaming or fighting with a brand new speedster. That’s not a sign that DC Comics has no idea what to do with the Flash, is it? Nahhh… couldn’t be! Anyhoo, Wally and Linda have this weird half-flirt. By that, I mean Wally tells Linda she’s his wife… and she is weirded out, since this is the first time they’ve met. Standard stupidity.
The Speedster-Spouses decide to team up and fight back the darkness… and whattayaknow, they do!
When the job’s done, Lightspeed suggests she and Wally maybe consider getting together. Wally turns her down, claiming there’s only one woman for him. He still gives her a big ol’ kiss though!
Our man goes running (back into the Quantum Leap Accelerator)… and finds himself at… that place on the Cusp or whateverthehell… with the Mount Rushmore of people he’d killed in that dunderheaded Heroes in Crisis… because, lest we forget… he killed a bunch of folks in that sham-show of a “story”! Here’s the thing, gang… up until this point, we actually had some pages of Wally smiling! This actually felt… albeit fleetingly… like a Wally West Flash story!
Anyhoo… we’re at Mount Rushmore, which means Jai and Irie are there too! We have, what could’ve/should’ve been a touching father and child reunion… but, I feel like I’m punch-drunk at this point, so it all falls flat.
We wrap up with Irie quoting her favorite Kidd Video song… You Better Run!
I tell ya what, gang… I never expected this little series to make me so introspective. Over the past few days of covering this, I’ve had many conflicted emotions… on one hand, I was happy to finally be dipping into my recent backlog… if for no other reason, to justify the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on these things over the past couple years. On the other hand, though… I’m sorta feeling like a thawed-out caveman… and this “new world” is something I only sorta recognize. And… I’ve only been “away” (as in not totally kept up) for a relatively brief time.
I started to think about why I still do this. Why do I still fill out my monthly order at DCBS? Is it simply out of habit? Am I afraid that these books will actually become “good” at some point, and I’ll have missed out? Have comics just become my “security blanket”? Something I, for better or worse, can “count on” month after month? Maybe it’s all of that. Or maybe my head is completely up my ass at this point.
One theory that hit me sort of like a bag of bricks, was… I’m trying to have the best of both worlds here. In continuing to buy these things, I can tell myself that I’m “keeping up” in a way… sorta making good on whatever “contract” I’ve made with myself. Does that make sense? Maybe not… I dunno, I’m trying not to be too self-indulgent here.
Now, in not actually reading these new books… the characters I love so much are kind of “stuck in amber”, ya know? They’re just how I last remember them. I don’t have to accept all of the ego-fueled BS that “superstar” writers have put them through in order to raise their own value. Quick note, I have not read a single issue of Superman or Action Comics since Bendis used one of the two tricks he has up his sleeve (because he only has two…), and revealed the secret identity. So, in MY canon, the ID hasn’t been revealed. It’s a weird line to draw, I understand… and it’s a weak as hell attempt at, I dunno, “plausible deniability”… but, it’s all I’ve got.
So, I still buy this garbage… month after month. I can tell myself I’m “keeping up” without having to acknowledge anything that’s actually happening in the books. Does that make even a lick of sense? It sounded good in my head…
Anyhoo… let’s look at this issue, in brief, so y’all can get to the Snickers ad.
This issue… wasn’t all that bad. For a brief moment there, it actually felt like I was reading a Wally-Flash story. Things were bright and hopeful… Wally was smiling. We had things explained to us, so we could actually figure out some of the purpose of fighting back the Dark Multiversal Matter. This was probably the strongest issue yet… though, that really isn’t a high bar to reach.
Then… WHAM – we’re smacked in the face by Heroes in Crisis. A little aside… I don’t know if anyone reading this has watched that Tiger King series on Netflix… I’m assuming at least some have. In it, the “star” Joe Exotic was feuding with a woman named Carole… and, he couldn’t actually say her name without prefacing with “That B*tch”… so, you’d hear “That B*itch Carole” a lot. I feel like anytime I say Heroes in Crisis, I want to preface it the same way… That B*tch Heroes in Crisis.
So yeah, Wally’s smacked upside the head by That B*tch Heroes in Crisis, just to remind us why we’re here. There will be no smiles… there will be no carefree adventure… there will be no hope. Welp, lemme tell ya… that “no smiles” mandate is contagious. I’m certainly not smiling after setting this book down… and I doubt many are.