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Flash #194

Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Scott Kolins (p), Doug Hazelwood (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with the Flash speeding his way toward Gorilla City, and while he's quick to run up against the sentries that have been stationed outside the hidden city to keep outsiders away, we see the Flash is able to secure entry into the city. He then discovers that Grodd has yet to arrive in the city, and as such Wally has time to get himself up to speed on the current events in the Gorilla City, which he discovers is now ruled by the son of Solovar (the pacifist ruler who was killed by Grodd), and Wally discovers that this new king has telepathic abilities that are similar to the ones Grodd possesses. Upon learning that his father's killer is on his way, we see Wally finds his request to bring Grodd back to America is flatly refused, as the king makes it clear Grodd must be punished by his own people for crimes he's committed against Gorilla City. We then see Grodd arrives and he is in full psychotic mode, which forces the Flash to make every effort to hit hard & fast in his bid to subdue Grodd. While Wally finds Grodd is a regular Timex when it comes to taking punishment, he is able to eventually batter Grodd into unconsciousness, but the effort took so much out of him that he's unable to back up his request to bring Grodd back to America.

Comments:
This arc hasn't quite reached the level of the Rogues threat, and primarily this is due to the fact that while Grodd makes for an imposing threat, the way that the Flash does battle with him is rather simplistic fisticuffs. Now there's an impressive display of the speed that Wally commands, as we see he's able to orchestrate an attack in the time that it takes Grodd to tumble to the ground, and his final push to batter Grodd senseless is also nicely done. However, Geoff Johns has decided to focus upon Grodd's animalistic fury, and while I found this focus immensely entertaining during the done-in-one issue from last year, and I had hoped I would find it equally so during this arc, the simple fact of the matter is that there's only so many times Grodd can rant and rave about what he'll do to Wally & his loved ones before it begins to feel a bit repetitive. Now I'm not saying that that I wouldn't welcome a return visit from Grodd, but unless Geoff John has a clever plan to go alongside Grodd's uncaged rage, then I would prefer the character limit his appearances to single issue shots, as this arc showed me that Grodd can't carry an entire arc, if all he's bringing to the table is simply his anger.

On the other side of the coin though, the elements of the story that don't directly involve Grodd's rampage prove to be exceptionally entertaining, as Gorilla City is always an interesting site to visit in the DCU, and the political dynamic that exists in the place are certainly intriguing, especially when one inserts Grodd into the picture. The idea that the ruler of Gorilla City balks at Wally's demand to bring Grodd back to America also made for an interesting debate, and the final solution to this problem made for an clever twist, though I'm sure Wally could easily learn the location of Gorilla City once again, through his J.L.A. connections if he really wanted to press the issue. The situation back in Keystone City is also quite engaging, as one of Wally's supporting players was crippled during this arc, and the final issue makes it clear that he's not adjusting to the idea all that well. There's also a great little moment in this issue where we see Barry still plays an active role in Wally's life, as we see when he's tearing into Grodd, the one element that keeps him from going too far is how Barry would view the situation. This scene also nicely plays up the idea that when Barry was fighting these villains, the game wasn't nearly as dangerous as it is now.

Scott Kolins continues to sit near the top of my list when it comes to his being the ideal comic artist, as his ability to deliver at least one jaw dropping piece of art in every issue is a rare quality that has me thanking the lucky stars that he's attached to this title. I mean the double-page establishing shot of Gorilla City is absolutely amazing, as it perfectly captures the idea that this city was designed by gorillas, and as such the building architecture has a nice "one with nature" sensibility. The art also does a wonderful job of conveying the sheer rage that is Grodd, as the villain's arrival on page twelve is a great looking shot of the character, and the ensuing battle has all the momentum of a runaway train. Now it would've been nice to see Wally's powers put to more imaginative use during the battle, but the art does clearly detail Wally's actions, and the speed of his attacks is also impressively rendered, with the fourth panel on page seventeen being a particularly strong example. I also enjoyed the fact that the art managed to convey the emotions of the cast, as Wally's look of determination on the opening page is very nicely done, as is Hunter's look of anguish after he wakes up and can't feel his legs.

Final Word:
I must confess I found myself a little underwhelmed by this final chapter, as while Grodd has a menacing presence, and he's powerful enough to present a real challenge to the Flash, the simple fact of the matter is that he's simply not all that interesting a character once you get past being impressed by the sheer animalistic fury. I mean the standalone issue from last year stands up as one of my favorite issues of Geoff Johns' run, so I know the character can be a solid villain, but this current arc got a little tiresome once it became clear that all Grodd brought to the table was raw savagery. Still, there are some solid moments in this issue as Geoff Johns has a strong understanding of what makes Wally such an engaging lead, and Gorilla City is one of the more interesting locals to visit in the DCU. The art of Scott Kolins also makes the big final battle visually exciting in spite of the rather uninspired means that Wally employs to take down Grodd.



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