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Flash #198

Posted: Friday, June 6, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



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

Publisher: D.C. Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Wally in pretty good spirits as he's called together his friends and family to let them know he & Linda are going to be parents. However, before delivering the big news we see Wally pays a visit to the ruins of the Flash Museum, with Jay Garrick along to keep him company, and to remind him that the museum's destruction doesn't mean the memories have been destroyed. After an unpleasant encounter with an intrusive group of reporters that threatens to spoil his big day, we see Wally catches himself before he does something he'll regret. We then join Wally back at his apartment, where Linda, Aunt Iris, Impulse, Jay & his wife have all gathered together, and the soon to be parents deliver their news. However, the resultant celebration is cut short when a series of sonic booms begin to rattle Keystone City, and when Jay & Wally investigate they happen to be on hand when a half finished skyscraper explodes, raining steel girders upon the crowd gathered below. As the two speedsters get everyone to safety, we see Jay is the first to encounter the unseen force, as he's nailed by something that is moving faster than he could see. As Wally struggles to figure out what the heck is going on, we see he get his first look at the evil he's facing, as Zoom makes a fleeting appearance. We then look is on Linda as she finds herself moments away from falling victim to a Zoom generated sonic boom.

Comments:
A nice suspenseful issue in which Geoff Johns displays his understanding of the concept that often time a reader's sense of anticipation is more powerful that the actual delivery of the big shocking impact moments. I mean for the first twelve pages of this issue nothing really happens, but thanks to the cover visual, and the knowledge that Zoom was out there waiting to strike, the opening scenes in this issue felt a bit like the swimmers who are out enjoying a summer's day at the beach, while the "Jaws" theme is playing. Now the opening half of this issue also acts as a wonderful introduction into Wally's corner of the DCU, as the first two pages bring you up to speed on how he got his power, and why he's chosen Keystone City as his home. The following issues then introduce us to the various members of the speedster supporting cast, and while Geoff Johns "I'm a moody teenager" take on Impulse left me a bit concerned that he'll be handling the character over in the Titans, I did enjoy the interaction between Jay Garrick & Wally, and Jesse Quick's harried, can't stop to enjoy life is nicely conveyed. In fact this issue acts as a perfect jumping on point, as the only part of this series that doesn't get any attention, is the members of the supporting cast who are on the police department. Plus, Wally and Linda do get to deliver the big news before the action hits.

Speaking of the action, this issue is a wonderful teaser as to how dangerous a villain with super-speed can be, as there's a wonderful scene where Jay is nailed by Zoom, and we see Wally & Jay finally get a sense of the feeling of panic that I'm sure most members of the Rogues Gallery are quite familiar with. Now thanks to the involvement of the time treadmill, I'm not entirely certain this version of Zoom is really using super-speed, but rather he's able to control the flow of time, and while it results in the same thing, if he's able to stop time completely, then he's actually faster than Wally, which is something that I thought was impossible. However, this would explain why Jay didn't see the attack coming, and it's rather spooky to consider that Wally's greatest asset in combat has been rendered null & void. I mean how does Wally fight a villain who can be one step ahead of him no matter how fast he runs, and given Zoom is controlling the flow of time, this would seem to make him immune to Wally's ability to absorb his kinetic energy. The dialogue pattern that Zoom employs also has a nice creepy quality to it, as one has to piece together what he's saying, and this adds an even more nightmarish quality to the character. One also has to love the outright menace conveyed on that final page, though I'm hoping Impulse will be on hand to save the day.

I'm really going to miss the work of Scott Kolins as he's a truly amazing artist when it comes to the delivery of big scale action, and what's more he's one of the few artists working today who are able to deliver high quality work each and every month. Now I'm delighted that he's on board for this Zoom story-line, as it's his art that will sell the tremendous sense of speed & power that this battle is going to operate at, and this issue is a wonderful teaser of what we can expect to see. From the sonic boom finger snaps that give the city a good shaking, to the scene where Jay & Wally deal with the rain of falling steel girders, the art does some wonderful work detailing the powers at work. However the highlight of this action sequence would have to be the scene where Jay becomes the victim of Zoom's attack, as there's something rather unsettling about seeing Jay being caught completely unaware. I also enjoyed Wally's little finger waggling, which he used to admonish the media, before it makes an amusing return later in the issue, as he points out that Zoom is dead. It's a cute visual that nicely plays up the idea that Wally is a bit of a stickler for details. Then there's the danger conveyed on that final page, as one can almost imagine the tragedy that is moments away from playing out. I also have to say that the cover to this issue is a wonderfully intense visual.

Final Word:
An issue that manages to deliver a pretty solid balancing act as the opening half of the issue acts as a fairly lighthearted introduction to Flash's corner of the DCU, and in spite of my being very familiar with all the material these pages detail, I have to say I was impressed with the nice economical presentation, and was equally pleased by how much ground these pages went over. However, what really earns this issue it's high rating plays out in the final half, as Zoom arrives in this book with all the impact of a tornado, and it's wonderful to see the sense of confusion as Wally looks to have finally run up against someone who is faster than him. I mean there's some downright harrowing moments in this issue, as Zoom acts as almost a ghostly presence that is taunting Wally, and then there's the final page cliffhanger that leaves one on pins and needle waiting for the next issue. The new Zoom makes for a wonderful threat, and best of all one can't help but get the sense that Wally's world will never be the same after this story is done.



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