Writer: John Rozum
Artist: Seth Fisher
The book opens by introducing us to a test pilot named Steve Kriozere, whose attempt to break a new speed record in the 1950's resulted in a bizarre accident that sent him hurtling forward through time, while his passage also acted to speed up time itself, so that an hour is no longer an hour, and the end of the universe can now be measured in thousands of years instead of billions. We then see this temporal quickening phenomenon has been discovered in the year 2002, and in a bid to correct this building crisis the Flash has been sent into the future to locate the missing pilot, and set time right. We then see both men emerge in a rather odd future, where Wally runs afoul with the local security force, who find Wally's story highly unlikely until the test pilot also arrives in this era, and we quickly see that Steve Kriozere is tapped into the speed-force just like Wally, and has also been granted super-speed. As Wally races to locate this man, we see Steve Kriozere has managed to hook up with an unscrupulous villain who paints Wally as a villain, and soon the two speedsters are involved in a heated conflict with each other. However, Wally is able to show the confused pilot who the real villain is, and with Steve Kriozere's help he's able to defeat the villain, and repair the damage that had been done to the time stream.
A wonderfully bizarre story, that inserts the Flash into science-fiction style environment, and then sets loose a wide variety of fun ideas. We have a test pilot who is speeding toward the end of time, and should he ever reach this point in time, the universe will end. We have this test pilot's passage through time acting to speed up time itself, so that lifespan of the universe can now be measured in the thousands of years instead of billions. We have Wally up against an opponent who is just as fast if not faster than he is, and the story makes great use of the idea that these two men are moving through a world where everything else seems to be frozen in time. We have a villain who is introduced to the reader as a disembodied head, and we discover he was part of a cryogenic program, but he fell victim to a group of overeager scientists who figured out how to cure the disease that killed him, but didn't know how to go about making a new body to attach his newly revived head to. Add to this mix a futuristic setting that actually has the look & feel of a different era, with it's organically grown clothing & guns that fire a rash-producing tarantula fur and you have a fairly entertaining reading experience.
With this said, given the story involves time travel, I couldn't help but feel that John Rozum missed an ideal opportunity to offer up a Flash adventure that starred Barry Allen instead of Wally West. I mean I'm a big Wally West fan, as I have ever issue of his series, while my exposure to Barry Allen is mostly limited to his appearances in the Justice League of America, and of course his heroic last stand during Crisis. However, the very story itself seems like it was tailor-made for Barry Allen, and even the continuity itself is a better fit, as Barry Allen was the science-hero, and as such the temporal mechanics & futuristic technology would've been a much better fit for Barry. There's also the little details like Wally vibrating through the car, but his passage through it doesn't cause it to explode, or the scene where Wally states that his battle with the other speedster is pushing him past his top speed, when it's been shown when Wally reaches his top speed he is pulled into the speed-force. Using Barry Allen instead of Wally would've removed these little inconsistencies, and it would've made this one-shot a little more special.
I must admit I entered this issue rather curious about Seth Fisher's work as I had read the news item that he was slated to be the guest-artist on a couple upcoming issues of "Doom Patrol", and this one-shot would act as a pretty good sampler of what I should expect to see. Seth Fisher certainly found himself the perfect project to showcase his art, as this story was custom-made for an artist with a busy art style, as it calls upon the artist to develop a futuristic looking cityscape, and Seth Fisher delivers a visual wonderland. The art also does a great job conveying the sense of speed that Wally & the Blur operate at, as there's some great looking shots in this issue, from the scenes where we see the disassembled machinery floating in midair, to the page where the Blur races through the maze of wires, in a bid to discover how he can reprogram the nanites. The art also captures the inherent weirdness factor that pervades the material, from the page where the Blur breaches the speed force while his aircraft comes apart around him, to the rather disconcerting scene where Wally has the air-filter injected up his nose.
As I mentioned above this would've been a great Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen) adventure, but I understand why DC would balk at handing over one of their prestige one-shots to a character who has been dead & largely out of the spotlight for over fifteen years. As it stands this was a delightfully odd romp with some high concept science-fiction ideas on display, and a fairly entertaining battle between two speedster to keep Flash fans happy. Now I must admit I found the ending a bit confusing in how the man's death instantly reset everything back the way it was before the accident. However, his death did make for a nice finishing note, so I'll let this one slide. In the end this one-shot is likely to be enjoyed by readers who like their stories with an overabundance of weird ideas, as this issue is littered with interesting bits, from Wally's amusing comments on the cosmic treadmill's silly sounding name, to the fairly engaging debate between Wally & the pilot on why he shouldn't continue on a path that will destroy the universe.
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