Current Reviews


The Flash #194

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2003
By: Ray Tate

"Dead or Alive"

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Scott Kollins(p), Doug Hazelwood(i), James Sinclair(c)
Publisher: DC

This will be for me the last issue of the Flash until a new writer happens along. The title has become too dark, and its tone has diminished to that of a soap opera where contrivances abound. I used to read the Flash for the adventure and the humor. Sadly, none of these elements now appear, at least on purpose.

Last issue, Grodd went ape on Iron Heights. This issue the Flash goes on safari. The apes of Gorilla City speak thusly: "Nok?", "Nook Nok Nook?", "Kooook!", "Kokokok!", "Nom Nok.", "Rama-lama-ding-dong." Thank Rao, this nonsense stops quickly. It should not have begun. In both the pre-Crisis and post-Crisis cosmologies, the apes of Gorilla City "speak" English. I suspect Johns did this to distinguish his Flash from other treatments, but his attempts are poorly executed and as you can read merely come off as unwittingly silly.

Once Flash enters Gorilla City, we see a better essay of evolution. I do not know who to credit for the reconstruction of Gorilla City. If Johns had a say in Scott Kollins and Doug Hazelwood's breathtaking reflection of culture and aesthetic he should be commended.

It's what happens in Gorilla City that is far from exciting. We meet Namdi who has inherited the throne from the classic wise ape Solovar whom Grodd apparently killed somewhere down that crazy curve line that supposedly unites a single, shiny happy universe. I could have sworn I saw him in the last quarter of Impulse, but I may be mistaken. In any case, Namdi is not the ripest banana of the bunch.

Namdi makes a big stink over the Flash's costume. Apparently, the Flash's uniform is the wrong color: "the color of blood is forbidden in Gorilla City." Namdi comes up with a number of reasons which he clumsily uses as a means to lord over his ape superiority to that of we mere humans without seeing the obvious faux pas in his argument. He knows of the other Flash. He therefore should be able to connect why the current Flash "wears a costume of blood" since the stupid simian currently flounces Solovar's cape. Johns wanted to be deep, but apart from his artificial depth not making any sense, he again forgets that he's telling a story involving highly evolved talking apes. Come on. Lighten up.

Although the story lacks a funny-bone, it is nevertheless risible. When Grodd arrives, he takes on the role of a seriously deranged Obi Wan Kenobi to Namdi's benevolent Darth Vader:

"You have been mastering your mental powers, Namdi."

Grodd is simply not in character. He is another character that Johns created and called Grodd, but what's worse is that the author has the hubris to want you to forget about the classic Grodd:

"As always with Grodd, it's strength vs. speed."

When? Grodd was a criminal genius not a brute. His mental attacks shown here are filled with predictable imagery that lacks the least bit of finesse. The Grodd who gave Barry Allen a run for his money possessed a devastating intellect not evident in this monkey.

When Flash returns to Keystone, we discover "the horror, the horror," of yet another maimed character in a universe filled with magic and super science. This scene is meant to carry impact. Instead, I merely sighed and rolled my eyes. At least it wasn't another female character.

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