Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Alberto Dose
Publisher: D.C. Comics
The book opens with Wally testing out his newfound power at the airport, where we see that while he's able to access the ability, it appears to be a bit of a struggle for him to do so, and what's more he's generating a tremendous amount of friction when he's moving at such high speeds. We then look in on a police investigation as another police officer in Keystone City was been frozen solid, and while Captain Cold is on the scene, it doesn't look like he's the one responsible. We then rejoin Wally, as he's spending time with his wife, but when Wally brings up the topic of the Flash, we see Linda expresses the idea that she's not the biggest fan of the Flash, as she holds him partially responsible for the lost of her unborn children. Later that night at work we see Wally gets introduced to Alexander Petrov, the city's new super-villain profiler, and we see the man is a bit of a jerk, as he manages to unwittingly insult Wally when he acknowledges Wally was Barry Allen's nephew. As Wally heads off to let off some steam, we see he gets another opportunity to test out his power, as he's waylaid by a trio of muggers. However, when his power proves slow to reveal itself, we see Wally nearly gets himself killed, and when his power does emerge it only makes the problem worse, as the sonic boom he generates causes a nearby building to collapse, burying the muggers and Wally under an avalanche of debris.
When I first came across this new status quo I was rather intrigued as it was one of the more daring moves I had ever seen by a writer on a title that had looked like it was doing pretty well before the big change. Entering our second issue of this new direction though I have to say that the jury is still out on whether this new direction is intriguing enough to have me saying it was a good move. On one hand I do like the idea that Geoff Johns was gone out of this limb, as he's effectively taken everything that made this book work and turned it on it's ear, as this is a fundamentally different book that what we had been getting only two months previously. On the other hand though there is a sense that he has thrown the baby out with the bath water, as one of the most appealing aspects that Geoff Johns brought to the book when he arrived was a seeming understanding that big scale super-heroics could be high entertainment, and this new direction is a far more grounded affair, in which Wally even has a tough time dealing with a trio of muggers. Still, I can't deny the fact that the final pages of this issue were very exciting, and with that final page shot it's rather difficult not to believe that Wally has been crushed to death, as invulnerability has never been among Wally's powers. It's certainly enough to carry me into the next issue.
The one thing this book has done is set up a new relationship dynamic between the Flash and his supporting players, as so many of Wally's relationships were built around the sense of trust that came with the supporting players knowing who the Flash was both in and out of costume. Now his interaction that the JLA, and the other DCU speedsters requires him to start wearing his costume and performing heroic deeds as the Flash, and the story has yet to reach this stage, so these moments of interaction are little more that interesting looking encounters that hopefully lie in the near future. However, this issue does introduce us to the new dynamic that exists between Wally and Linda, as it would appear that Geoff Johns is polishing off the old Gwen Stacy scenario where the girlfriend/wife is in love with our character out of costume, but holds a serious grudge against the costumed hero identity. This in turn sets up the idea that Wally will be given pause when it comes to letting her in on the secret that he's the Flash, and this in turn results in Wally effectively hiding a large part of his life from Linda. We also are reintroduced to Detective Morillo, who we see looks to have completely forgotten about all his interaction with Wally, which in turn means this is a relationship Wally will have to rebuild from the ground up. I'm guessing this will also be the case with most of the other heroes in the DCU.
I'm not sure what to make of the new art, as in one sense the art is well suited to the darker tone of the material, as Wally does come across as a working class stiff trying to adjust to the rather fantastic events that have recently entered his life. The art also manages to capture Wally's speed in a rather unique manner, as essentially we see the world essentially stops moving around Wally, instead of actually seeing the speed lines. Now this effect does give Wally's power a more surreal edge, as there's a great little moment where we see Wally watches as a bullet slowly rushes toward him, so that he has time to reach out and pluck it out of the air. The sonic boom effect that sets in motion the big collapse is also quite well done, as the ripple effect is used to great effect. I also enjoyed the sense on sheer weight that comes crashing down, and the visual impact of that final page is undeniable. However, there are times where I can't help but notice the art is a bit lacking when it comes to facial expressions, as it's rather difficult to read the various reactions of the characters in this story, and as such certain moments aren't nearly as effective as they might've been under a more expressive art style. Also the dark blue and gray coloring scheme gets to be a bit much after a while, as I actually welcomed the arrival of the Flash costume on that final page as it brought a bright color into what had been a rather drab looking issue.
I have to say I'm a bit divided when it come to this new direction as on one hand we are essentially getting in on the ground floor of a fairly major shift in this book's status quo, and I applaud Geoff Johns seeming willingness to deliver a story the is so radically different from what we had been getting before. On the other hand though, I rather enjoyed what this book had going before, and the more down-to-earth feel of this new direction doesn't really excite me like the slam blam action that was this book's bread and butter. Now I'm curious to see where this book is heading, and this issue has itself a pretty exciting cliffhanger to pull me into the next issue, but I do hope that the book does kick itself into a higher gear pretty soon, as there's only so much enjoyment one can draw from watching Wally stumble and bumble around with his newly discovered ability. Still, I imagine things will pick up once Wally puts on the costume, as this should bring more ideas into play, when the DCU responses to the return of the newly mysterious Flash.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!