Don’t Stop Moving
After receiving The Flash omnibus for Christmas I decided that it was now time to dive into the character’s graphic novel run. If you’ve read my review of Flash: Rebirth and Flashpoint then you know that I absolutely LOVED those books. They were my first experience of The Flash in graphic novel form and I thought both books were absolute masterpieces.
With a new writer now at the helm I’m interested to see what happens with the Flash created ‘New 52’ and where it takes the character. So with that being said. Let’s dive into The Flash: Move Forward.
A new love interest
The book opens with Barry taking Patty, not Iris, to a musuem. In typical fashion it gets robbed and The Flash saves the day. It’s only once one of the robbers dies and is unmasked and shown to be an old friend that Barry really starts to divert from the typical superhero cliches. The old friend, Manuel, is resurrected and visits Barry and they get into trouble, like me and you used to when we were lads. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T REMEMBER?
It’s discovered that there is a bunch of Manuels, a hoarde if you will. Flash could take them down but Iris is kidnapped, so he doesn’t, yadda yadda yadda.
I’m not too sure on the whole Iris, Patty, Barry love triangle. Sure it mixes Barry’s personal life up a bit but it seems to divert slightly too much from the main thrust of the story in it’s initial chapters. Sure, it’s interesting that Iris comes to Barry to find dirt on The Flash, unbeknownst that they are one and the same but it acts as a distraction.
I was much more interested in Barry’s newly gained ability to think faster. This element of the book really allows to set to take off conceptually and showcases the true wealth of powers that the speedster has. It comes in at great use when Barry has to save a crashing plane during a blackout. Whilst this might seem like a mundane task when compared to regular comics, it’s actually a brilliant way of displaying how the character would deal with Day to day problems. He uses his ability to help normal people, rather than tackle super villains. I love the grounded feel that the book presents and it allows it to maintain a certain believability throughout.
It’s excellent when Barry is being tackled by the hoarde and rather than take them out and reveal his true identity, he thinks out each scenario, causing his brain to overheat and his reactions to kick in. The character slows time down to the femtosecond and then manages to skim a bullet along his head, collapsing and appearing dead. Genius! It keeps his identity intact whilst giving the viewer an expansive look at the flashes plethora of talents.
Juxtaposing this intelligence is the ‘villain’ of the book, whilst primarily not an out an out bad guy, his clones still act as antagonist. I compare Manuel to the Winter Soldier, he and Barry were friends, he was recruited by the government, given powers of regeneration and multiplication and then used as a pawn. It’s beat for beat the same as the civil war movie and due to that being something I encountered before this book, I wasn’t too interested in it’s twists and turns. Sure you can see that Manuel doesn’t have evil intent, but the mob of clones do and it’s tough to feel truly sympathetic towards him when people with his face are running round perpetuating evil acts. Barry remembers their friendship and due to this struggles with the outcome of what is right and wrong but we as readers already know what the eventuality will be.
I do sympathise with the clones, after regenerating from Manuels severed limbs, they die soon after and therefore just want a long life. It’s a good motivation. It the fact that there are so many and they are all throw always makes it hard to get invested.
The books climax is well, sort of an anti one, from an action standpoint at least. The mob have the original Manuel and are using a machine to correct their genetic defect. The machine goes haywire, Flash runs around it, saves the day, the clones die. Whilst it’s slightly disappointing it also confirms the point that The Flash can’t save some people, no matter how fast he is. Manuel views flash as his enemy and I get the feeling that the friendship they had can never be repaired. It’s more of a psychological finish to a brilliant book that leaves you feeling mentally drained, in a good way.
The book ends brilliantly and does a fantastic job of setting up the next chapter with Dr Elias exclaiming that the Speed force must be destroyed, for reasons that I won’t spoilt.
Whilst a step down from it’s stellar predecessors, Move Forward, is still an enjoyable book that leaves you wanting more. The scarlet speedster truly feels like he has a character progression and I can’t wait to pick up the next chapter in the run. I am really invested in the character and hope that the high bar set by these books continues.