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Flash #204

Posted: Thursday, December 4, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Alberto Dose

Publisher: D.C. Comics

Plot:
As Captain Cold arrives to help the Flash escape from the block of ice he was encased in (last issue), we see when Wally is free he's not exactly inclined to trust Captain Cold's offer to help catch the real cop-killer. As Wally makes a failed bid at capturing Captain Cold, we see he returns home and makes an equally ineffectual bid at locating the real villain using detective work. However, his efforts are cut short by the arrival of a late night visitor.

Comments:
The book continues to slowly immerse the readers in this newly altered corner of the DCU, as pretty much everything we ever knew about the Flash has been changed, and the new environment that the character is moving though is filled with so many fundamental changes that even long-time readers are on the same page as a reader who joined this book at the start of this arc. Now the action is playing out on a lower level that the big level super-heroics that were this book's bread and butter previously, and I must confess that I rather miss the big scale threats that made the book into one of my favorite titles coming out of DC. However, the book is still quite engrossing as there are moments where I can't help by be impressed by how sweeping this change has been, as every single relationship that existed previously in this book has been changed completely, and even the important details like how effectively the Flash is able to use his powers have been altered completely, though it would appear that Geoff Johns has decided to fast forward though the baby steps, by having the Flash encounter latent memories of how to use his powers. The issue also offers up a fairly big surprise in the final pages as we discover the identity of the mystery figure who seems to remember that Wally West is the Flash, and presumably he's going to impart this knowledge this knowledge on the clueless Wally, and offer his assistance in solving this present crisis.

As for the art, Alberto Dose continues to turn in work that is a surprisingly effective fit for this story, as Wally's new blue collar status is perfectly captured by the gritty look of the art, and the darker nature of the story itself is well served by the heavy shadowing, and the fact that almost all the action seems to be playing out at night. Now the speedster tricks aren't overly impressive, as one never really gets the sense that Wally's moving all that quickly, but than again since a part of the story is that Wally is still learning how to use his powers, perhaps it's best that we have an artist who isn't able to convey his power usage all that well. I do have to say that the final page wasn't nearly as effective as one would've hope, as the character's musculature looks downright strange.

Final Word:
Wally West has always been a man of action, and if there was one flaw in the character it was that he had to be in almost constant problem solving mode, as you can't really sell the idea of "the world's fastest man" if he's having to stop and consider the various clues that were left by the villain. In fact one of the funniest issues of "Impulse" was accomplished when an element from Batman's corner of the DCU ran up against a speedster who was able to search the entire city for the hidden bomb, before the Riddler was even finished delivering his villainous rant. Now this current arc has acted to slow down the Flash, as he's essentially rediscovering the idea that he's the world's fastest problem solver, which in turn makes it far easier for this arc's villain to continue his villainous activities, as Wally is still trying to figure out how to open the starting gate. This in turn allows for some fairly interesting moments as we see Wally trying to exercise muscles that he's never really been required to use, like his amusing attempt at detective work in the final pages.



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