Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Scott Kolins (p), Doug Hazlewood (i)
The book opens with the Flash investigating the massive bean stalk that that suddenly sprouted in the middle of Keystone City, and we see the Flash already has a pretty good idea of who's responsible, as the fairy tale gimmick would seem to suggest he's facing Brother Grimm once again. After we discover that Linda's extra helpful classmate was really Brother Grimm in disguise, and after we see Linda is taken prisoner by the villain, we rejoin Wally, as he finds himself facing a trio of fire breathing dragons. However, Wally also finds himself an ally, as Hawkman was passing by, and upon spotting the giant bean stalk he came in to investigate. As the two heroes make quick work of the dragons, we see Wally has Hawkman fly him to the top of the bean stalk, where he arrives just in time to save his & Linda's unborn child, from the unkind attentions of Brother Grimm. We then see Hawkman heads back down to the base of the bean stalk to chop it down using Brother Grimm's magic sword, while Wally remains behind to duke it out with Brother Grimm in a fist fight. In the end both heroes are successful in their respective tasks, and Brother Grimm is sent back to his home dimension. Meanwhile in Iron Heights, a very dangerous prisoner is able to free themselves.
Super-hero team-ups are always fun, and this issue marks the first time that I've seen these two characters together. Plus, given the dialogue would seem to indicate Wally's never worked with Hawkman before, this issue also has the distinction of being our first look at how well these two personalities work together. Now Hawkman & Green Arrow are the current darlings of the guest-appearance scene so I'm not surprised to see Hawkman showing up in these pages, and given both books share Geoff Johns as a writer, frankly I'm more surprised it didn't happen sooner. In any event this issue offers up a team-up that's a little too cordial for my tastes, as while Wally has always come across as fairly easy to get along with, and his somewhat lecherous tendencies have been tempered by his relationship with Linda, Hawkman's authoritative nature should've made for some sticky moments during this encounter. Now I'll admit it's rather fun to learn that there's a super-hero grape line (one has to love the rumor about Animal Man), and the comment that Hawkman reveals regarding the Flash's rumor is a pretty solid feel good moment. However, I would've enjoyed a little more tension in this pairing, as frankly the battle itself didn't have nearly enough danger to hold my interest.
This issue marks the return of Brother Grimm, the villain who Geoff Johns used during his first arc as the Flash's new writer. Truth be told I didn't care much for the villain back then, and sadly the villain hasn't gotten any better during the past couple years that he's spent in comic book limbo. I mean on one hand I like the idea of a villain who can bring fairy tales into the real world, and this issue offers up a pretty impressive visual display of this power, with its fire breathing dragons, and the massive beanstalk that has sprouted up out of the middle of Keystone City. However any villain who Wally can defeat in a simple fist fight, while he's unable to use his super-speed, is a villain who I honestly can't say I'm eager to see again. Now sure most members of Wally's Rogues Gallery are simply ordinary thugs, who have gotten their hands on a cold/heat generating gun, or can throw a boomerang, but one of the best elements that Geoff Johns has brought to this book is that he's developed these low key threats into truly dangerous threats, with Captain Cold being the best example of this skill. However, Brother Grimm has yet to benefit from this particular talent as he's a powerful character, who collapses like a cheap tent when the going gets tough.
Scott Kolins is the ideal comic book artist in my mind, as his art style lends itself remarkably well to the big screen ideas that are part and parcel of most comic book action scenarios. I mean this issue we're treated to a trio of fire-breathing dragons, and while Hawkman gets to look pretty heroic, it's Wally's efforts with a length of chain that proved to be the highlight of this issue. Speaking of Hawkman, Scott Kolins does a pretty good job with the character, as he does look quite imposing, and the art does a nice job of detailing the idea that Hawkman is a regular walking weapon. The art also does some pretty good work on the split battle scene, as we see Hawkman battle to free himself from the vines so he can get at the beanstalk, while the Flash has it out with Brother Grimm in a fist fight. I also enjoyed the sequence where the fantasy elements vanish, and Wally & Linda plummet to the ground far below, as the contrasting expressions on Wally & Linda's faces as they are saved by Hawkman speaks volumes about this scene. Plus speaking of a picture being worth a thousand words, how can one not experience a sense of impending doom when one takes a look at the final page of this issue.
I did find myself a bit disappointed that there wasn't a bit more of a personality clash between the Flash & Hawkman, as normally Carter Hall can be counted generate some tension with his "my way is the right way, so hop to it" approach to super-heroics. However, given Geoff Johns involvement with both characters, I guess he can be forgiven for not making either character look like the bad guy in this pairing. I was also a bit disappointed by the rather easily resolved nature of this issue's threat, and there's not really any moment in this issue where one gets the sense that our heroes are in any danger, though there is a brief moment when Linda's situation looks a bit precarious. In the end this issue is an entertaining standalone issue, with some fun moments, but overall the book could've been better. If nothing else Geoff Johns could've picked a stronger villain to toss at our heroes. The final page looks quite promising however.
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