(w) Scott Lobdell (a) Brett Booth (i) Norm Rapmund (c) Luis Guerrero
Those that have perused this site in recent months are more than aware that Heroes in Crisis is not held in high esteem around these parts. Thankfully, DC has opted to give Wally West a redemption arc for the character assassination he suffered under the pen of Tom King, though the creative team was less than inspiring. Writer Scott Lobdell, who has delivered a surprisingly good run on Red Hood and the Outlaws, and artist Brett Booth, artist for the Rebirth-era Titans, were tasked with the responsibility of stewarding this title. Though their recent works outside of those aforementioned titles has drawn the ire of the internet crowd, Booth’s self-proclaimed love of Wally West inspired cautious optimism that Flash Forward could at least wash the Heroes in Crisis distaste from readers’ mouths. After reading the series’ first issue, that optimism looks to be well placed.
Probably the roughest part of Flash Forward #1 is its beginning, where readers find Wally West in a state of self-loathing as he serves out his prison sentence. It’s a harsh reminder of what DC editorial has put the character through, as the major beats of HiC are revisited for those that did not read it. While the situation sees Wally at his absolute lowest point, it is still jarring to see the “fun Flash” act so stern and miserable… like “serious Flash” Barry Allen. However, this is a necessary evil given the material Lobdell and Booth have to work with. All things considered, they do a very good job navigating these waters.
Lobdell’s script reads like a big “fuck you” to DC editorial’s current stance on Wally West. Buried on the superhero depth chart since Barry Allen’s resurrection in Final Crisis, Wally’s own feats have been diminished. This is especially true as as writers – specifically Geoff Johns – worked to retcon character histories to make Barry Allen the most important speedster in the DC Universe. In this one issue, Lobdell and Booth are quick to point out that Wally West is indeed the fastest and most powerful of the Flash family. While it is a little cheap, using an all-knowing, multiversal being’s perspective to reestablish this is convincing. It’s even more convincing when you consider that Wally has been tasked with saving all of multiverse by himself.
Though big on ideas, this issue’s strength lies in the quiet, introspective moments Wally has. He knows the villain Murmur saves him during a prison fight only so that he can live with his guilt even longer. When Linda Park visits him in jail, it serves as a painful reminder of all that he lost with the changes to reality – while also being a pointed jab at DC’s editorial missteps over the past decade. However, the team bites off a little too much in this issue, as the pacing is a bit of a mess, especially with an oddly placed interlude involving the Mobius Chair.
On the art side, this is some of the best looking art from Brett Booth in a while. He always brings big energy to whatever title he’s working on, which is great for a cosmic adventure like this. Ditto for Norm Rapmund, as his inks do a great job in adding depth and definition to the pencils. Those two have been working together for a long time to great success. But the unsung hero is colorist Luis Guerrero. Unlike Booth’s past colorists, Guerrero doesn’t give everything a metallic look or attempt to give the visuals a field of depth. Instead, he opts for a flatter technique which is simply wonderful. Though some of the color choices are odd at times, Guerrero’s coloring is a great complement to the line-work. Hopefully, this team sticks together in future projects.
Flash Forward #1 is a bit shaky as it tries to navigate the fallout of Heroes in Crisis, but by the issue’s end it finds its footing. With much of the heavy lifting out of the way, the series is set up to give readers a worthwhile Wally West comic that hasn’t been seen since the beginning months of DC Rebirth. Lobdell’s story seems determined to be a rallying call for older readers, and if nothing else, the art team will ensure that the book looks good for its six-issue run.