"The Secret of Barry Allen, Part Two: Reformed"
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Howard Porter (p), Livesay (i)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
As Wally reads the letter from Barry Allen in which the late hero confesses to a past mistake, we see Barry's transgression took place in the aftermath of the failed attempts at fixing Doctor Light's mind. We discover Barry found the villainous Top was becoming a greater threat, and he decided the only solution to this problem was a second attempt at fixing the mind of a villain using the less than successful method that was employed on Doctor Light.
This issue feels like Geoff Johns spotted a plot element in the Identity Crisis miniseries that he found to be an exceptionally clever idea, and he decided to offer up his own version of the idea, but his version feels more like reheated leftovers. I also have to openly question the logic that drives the story, as while I'm not overly familiar with Barry Allen, the book that has been offered up for the character would seem to suggest that he's reasonably intelligent, while this story requires him to be the type of individual who would put his hand back into a fire to see if it was still hot. I mean after seeing how badly their previous attempt at fixing the mind of a villain went, Barry Allen decides that second attempt is the ideal solution to his problem. Now it's not so much that this story has Barry engaging in this morally questionable behaviour, but rather the story simply doesn't take the time to fully explain why Barry would decide to take this path again when he got a good look at how slippery the slope was during their first attempt. It also doesn't help that the main villain that Geoff Johns has placed at the centre of the story is the Top, as following on the heels of the Turtle's return, it's almost as if Geoff Johns has decided to see if he can work his magic on the grade-Z members of the Rogues Gallery, and the goofy Silver Age body swapping plot simply makes another hurdle that the writing has to overcome. In the end this issue simply didn't grab me as the terrible secret makes Barry Allen out to be a bit of a moron.
Howard Porter's work has never really grabbed me. While I don't dislike his art and can understand why he would have a loyal fan base, in the end I simply can't work up much enthusiasm toward his art. I mean it tells the story in a clear enough fashion, and the art manages to deliver some solid big impact moments, from the opening shot of the gathered Justice League, to the final page arrival shot, I can't say there was anything about the art on this issue that really caught my eye. In the end I find his characters to be a bit stiff, his facial expressions to be rather limited, and perhaps worst of all the art never quite manages to capture the visual impact the Flash's power. Now I will give the art credit for its work on the opening page, as Wally grief is nicely presented, and the same goes for the Top's sense of guilt later in the issue. The cover image is also a pretty powerful visual to incite one to read the issue.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!