“Ignition Part One: Driven”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Alberto Dose
The world is bled of color. A faded existence remains where snow falls in August, chaos plagues the streets, and heroes forsake duty. This is the new world of FLASH, a world in which Wally West has exchanged his Flash identity for a conventional lifestyle. Thus begins a six-part story-arc, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by new series artist Alberto Dose. Combined with Johns’ lately subdued storytelling, Dose’s moody and muted art makes “Ignition Part One: Driven” an eerie transition issue from the exhilarating life of a superhero to the monotonous life of a mechanic.
Eerie is the opening sensation because this new world is all too familiar. Criminals are clever and fearless, police are overly burdened, citizens dread nightfall, and spouses can afford only a good-bye kiss between work-shifts. Yet, ever true to the essence of comic books, writer Geoff Johns imbues this issue with the spirit of potential. West remains optimistic and friendly. He loves his new job and, ironically, increasingly values speed and motion: “Guess that’s why I like fixing things that move. Makes me feel like I’m giving someone their freedom.” Here, and throughout, West sparkles with hope, utterly unaware that he once had—and still has—the power to give more than a functioning car.
But, by the issue’s end, West does discover some hidden abilities. His speed power ignites during a multi-vehicle collision, consequently establishing the story-arc’s premise—a man begins to realize that he is a superhero, the superhero who his wife blames for her miscarriage, the superhero who has left the city to the mercy of police-killing criminals, the superhero who prefers the life of a mechanic. Hence, this story-arc centers around a well-crafted, looming dilemma. Will Wally West revive his world’s waning color or remain hidden in the “real” world?
The impression that West now exists in a non-superhero world relies on Alberto Dose’s gritty art and James Sinclair’s aptly flat coloring. Everything has a sense of weight. Streets are heavy with burnt rubber, gun-smoke, and nervous sweat. Even the stubble on West’s chin weighs down the otherwise unaffected character. Yet, again, the gloom is lightened by West. Brief moments of bright airiness arise as West watches gliding birds from his apartment balcony, and as a golden explosion hurls the confused hero safely towards the mass of people he has just rescued. The art is far from pretty but complements the story’s mood and underlying message that life has the potential for brilliance.
Although slower and less vibrant that usual Flash stories, this set-up issue is a well-calculated attempt to establish a new reality for West and the readers. The result: Johns and Dose effectively prepare readers for what promises to be a powerful story-arc.
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