The Flash #1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico and Ivan Plascencia
Lettering Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
If every major shift in DC Comics continuity has shown us anything, it’s that the Flash is a lynchpin at the heart of every event. So was the case with Crisis on Infinite Earths and all of its echo events, and it was the Flash that caused the events of Flashpoint and triggered the "New 52."
As such, the new series of The Flash might be one of the most highly scrutinized of the "Rebirth" titles, especially given the revelations that unfolded in the DC Universe: Rebirth special last month.
Joshua Williamson’s Flash doesn’t follow on immediately from that story, save for a few narrative panels acknowledging it, instead presenting us with something more traditional. In fact, the issue opens with a recap of Barry Allen’s accident, firmly establishing this as a jumping on point for new readers. Williamson spends most of the time in this issue laying out who the players are going to be for the uninitiated, principally Iris West and the “New 52” version of Wally West. Hints are dropped as to the future for this version of the character. The CSI character of Kristen looks set to fill the void Patty Spivot has left, while Barry typical problems of running late and clashing with the brass never stray too far from the formula.
This relatively straightforward story is precisely what’s so striking about the issue. Two emergencies take place in the city: a tenement fire and a terrorist incident at S.T.A.R. Labs. The simple choice of which to tackle first could be completely formulaic if Williamson didn’t imbue it with an incredible sense of momentum. It’s hard to avoid the obvious comparisons between this latest outing and the television series on the CW, as it seems that this book has been built as a bridge between the twin sets of audiences. This can only be a good thing for comic books generally, even if it may not answer all our questions right away.
That sense of momentum is partly fueled by Carmine Di Giandomenico and Ivan Plascencia’s unique art style, with Di Giandomenico’s often loose line art indicative of his dynamic style. At times the facial close-ups are beautiful, using shading and light to create something akin to a pop-art style. Yet in a Flash comic book, it’s all about how the speed is conveyed, and Di Giandomenico does so in single panels, creating a sense of movement without falling back on the multiple iterations of the character across the page. There’s an omnipresent electricity, as you would expect, but even this seems alive and ready to leap out of the book. Di Giandomenico is certainly not going to be for all tastes, but when he’s on point - such as Flash’s final take-down of the issue, amidst a sea of yellow and blue electricity - it’s lightning in a bottle.
The Flash may not be the earth-shattering debut that the "Rebirth" kick-off had initiated, and while there are no big reveals in the first issue out of the gate, it’s nevertheless a solid and reliable version of the Scarlet Speedster. The hints are all there for bigger things to come, including the cliffhanger ending, but the contrary to the title, it seems we may have to wait through a more measured pace before we get to them.