Current Reviews


The Flash #202

Posted: Sunday, September 28, 2003
By: Cody Dolan

“Shifting Gears”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Alberto Dose

Publisher: DC Comics

Now this is how you revamp a character. No over-the-top gimmicks, no re-launch with a new #1, no declaration of a “Bold New Direction!”, and no lame attempts to be edgy. Geoff Johns has changed the entire life of the titular character by taking him out of the book. There’s no Flash to be seen in this issue, and I loved almost every page. It’s not often that you see a character that’s been around as long as Wally West struggle with his abilities, and it’s a welcome change of pace.

I said in my last review that I wanted more build up; that it looked like Johns was in too big a hurry to get Wally back in the costume. Well, I stand corrected. Wally still isn’t sure what’s happening to him, and that confusion is making for a great story. Does he tell his wife what’s going on? Given her hatred for the Flash, I tend to think he shouldn’t, but that kind of information is going to be hard to hide from the person he’s supposed to share his life with. The mysterious stranger that gave Wally the Flash ring (one of the hokiest devices in all of comics, but I digress) doesn’t make an appearance, and I think that heightens the intrigue.

Not much happens in this issue, and it’s odd for me to say I didn’t mind. The exploration of new powers, Wally trying to use them in dangerous situations, and the underlying tension that we all know he’s going to have to confront his past life keeps the title interesting enough without much forward plot movement.

Normally I can’t wait for the big payoff/big reveal, but for some reason this story is clicking with me. The inclusion of Captain Cold in this story keeps the traditional comic book danger just beneath the surface (even though Wally gets mugged among other things), and I can’t wait to see the role he plays in this story. I’m not sure about this new forensic scientist, but I’ve liked the rest of Johns’ new additions, so I’m willing to cut the writer some slack.

I’m still not sold on Alberto Dose as the right artist for this book, but I have to say I’m really starting to warm to his work. His rendition of Linda West is striking and, though I hate to say it, looks better than Scott Kolins’ version. Dose’s depiction of Wally’s powers looks fantastic and his attention to detail helps convey the surprise, wonder, and “weirdness” of someone learning they can run really fast. For example, in the opening scenes Wally is testing himself on a rain swept airport runway (although how he got there is never explained). He starts to run, and when “Speed Mode” kicks in the individual drops of rain become visible. Little touches like that have won me over, and all I need to see now is how Dose handles the scarlet costume for the artist to make me a fan.

As I’ve said, writers hoping to break into the industry should pay attention to what Johns is doing in this arc. What’s old is new again, and in the static world of comics, that’s no small feat.

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