Speedjumping back into The Flash

The Flash hits his second arc this week, as writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato begin a two-part storyline which sees Barry Allen face up against Captain Cold. One of the most well-known of Flash’s opponents (with Professor Zoom still AWOL after the events of Flashpoint), Captain Cold gets revamped by the creative team, given a simple but effective repurposing and thrown into battle with Flash. And the issue works really well, for a reason which is gradually becoming clearer and clearer:

Flash is the new Superman. He has a secret identity and interesting workplace, friends and colleagues, an interesting gallery of rogues, and a girlfriend. His stories are simple and grounded, but entertaining and absolutely rock-solid. While the main Superman book overtells a story and Action Comics continues to get lost inside itself, The Flash has jumped straight over Clark Kent and become DC’s most enjoyable, heroic, hero. He may not have the page-breaking sense of ego that Green Lantern displays, or Batman’s stoic brooding, but the writers make sure that his sense of morality is pitch-perfect, leaving the series brilliant for all-ages. It’s nice to see a character who immediately tries to help other people without throwing in one-liners, and Barry’s experience as a hero shows on every page. While the other superheroes were re-launched as relatively new to being heroes, Barry seems smarter, wiser than everyone else.

And of course, this series is being drawn by Francis Manapul. One of the most creative and brilliant artists in the industry, every month Manapul manages to outdo himself with clean, dynamic linework and a sensational ability to storyboard the action. This issue sees him drawing Captain Cold’s freeze effects, and how they stagger Flash’s use of his powers. You can really sense the battle dragging on as things get tougher and tougher for Flash to fight back against. The opening splashpage is absolutely gorgeous, as well – but Manapul truly excels with the conversational, laid-back sequences. Not only do we get some really nicely-done dialogue which builds on Barry’s relationship with his girlfriend, but Manapul shows us just how comfortable the two have become with each other. Even without the words, you can sense the relationship between the two and what’s happening between them. It’s sensational work.

The pacing of the story is perhaps not as fast as it should be, with the finale not quite ramping up as quickly and as dangerously as it should do – but the finale proves to be a deft way of bringing tension to the story, from an unexpected place. Ultimately, The Flash proves itself to be the most heroic, well-placed and smartly-created book of the entire New 52. With a clear sense of purpose, a brilliantly put together story, and gorgeous artwork, it’s a title that really can’t be recommended enough.


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