The Flash: Out Of Time Review By Deffinition
After the stellar Flash run by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, I’m interested to see how the continued story will move forward with a new creative team at the helm. Having never read work by Robert Venditti or Van Jensen I’m interested if they can talk control of this beast and deliver upon the quality that one comes to expect when reading a book about the Scarlet Speedster.
New creative teams can often have teething problems and after the events of Forever Evil, there’s a lot here that could go wrong.
So, will this new duo be able to deliver or is this a book that’s out of time? Hmmm (That doesn’t work at all and I apologise).
Let’s find out and dive into The Flash: Out Of Time.
“Sorry I Have To Run”
We open with Central City in ruins after the Crime Syndicate ravaged it in Forever Evil. Torn apart Barry feels like the destruction is all down to his neglect. After the police department demand that all of their officers receive a psyche check, Barry is forced to visit a therapist, questioning whether he is able to be the hero that the world requires.
It’s a psychological take on the character that really allows the new creative team to make their mark. In the New 52, we haven’t really viewed the mental strain that being the Flash could cause on a person and this is opening chapter brilliantly questions Barry’s abilities. Perfectly painting the duality of his two personalities in the process.
I loved that everytime the therapist looks away, Barry zipped off to repair aspects of the city and the opening issue feels like a brilliant balance of action with drama.
In the second chapter we see the introduction of the new Wally West. Caught vandalising a wall his origin is very ‘Jason Todd.’ Depicting the character as bi-racial, DC really shook up the status quo for the character and it’s a great milestone that an African American was given such a pivotal role. Whilst Rebirth would eventually mess up the continuity, putting forward two Wally’s (one white and one black), it’s good that Venditti was able to take a positive step forward even if it was short lived.
A problem that I often have with ‘bad kid goes good’ sidekicks are that they are deliberately made to be unlikeable, Wally is different though. He has motive in the fact that Flash stopped his hero, Daniel West, when he donned the Reverse Flash costume. It adds depth to the character and explains why he developed into a troubled youth in his adolescence.
In the background of the main story we see flashes of The Flash (puns galore) twenty years from now. Wally is dead, Iris is paralysed and Barry is having a mental breakdown. Realising that he must travel back in time we see the Blue Speedster (which is a brilliant costume) confront the only other person who can control the speed force, Gorilla Grodd. The two Battle and Flash mercilessly ends him in what is a kick-ass panel. Placing a micro-bomb inside his head we get a ten second delay before the Gorilla’s brains go splat. Ouch.
Future Barry is a complete psychopath and what makes it worrying is that he wants to rewind the clocks 20 years so that he can murder his past self. It’s a brilliant twist that raises the stakes exponentially. Similar to Looper, we see Barry travel through time writing his wrongs in spectacular fashion. Matured by old age he sees that removing himself from the timeline is the only way to avoid countless tragedies. Building the book towards a breathtaking Barry vs Barry showdown we watch the two go head to head in a battle that isn’t to be missed.
I absolutely loved this element of the book and it adds real weight and a sense of mystery to the storyline. Most Flash time travel centric pieces are enthralling but this one really has you on the edge of your seat as you watch the cause and after effects play out across 20 years, panel to panel. Seeing the older Barry correcting mistakes from his past is almost therapeutic and completely relatable. How many of us have things in our life that we wish we could do-over? That is what makes the older incarnation of The Flash so easy to associate with and I can see many readers siding with the antagonist.
Out Of Time
In fascinating fashion Future Flash saves Wally’s life, Murdering Daniel West, The Reverse Flash, in the process. Altering the timeline but not necessarily for the better, the story shows how futile it can be in trying to correct one’s mistakes instead of learning from them. He kills Barry five years from now, which in turn causes Wally to receive speed force powers. This plummets Future Flash to present day and….look it’s a bit hard to explain. That doesn’t mean the story gets convoluted, by its closing chapter watching the future Wally West travel back to save present Barry from Future Barry is a brilliant cerebral battle that has to be seen to be believed.
Dying in the final battle The Future Wally detonates a speed force bomb that hurtles Barry back to the Jurassic age. Ending our book on a brilliant, prehistoric cliffhanger.
I’m happy to say that the new team doesn’t miss a step. Picking up perfectly from their predecessor the new writer and artist hit a home run with their first Volume and they deliver on all the potential that was set up pre-Forever Evil. Perfectly capturing all of the things I love about the Flash, they also managed to inject some life into the Scarlett Speedster and some of the plot points are inspired. Making for an enthralling read that allows The Flash to settle in at the centre of DC’s greatest characters.
If you love all things Flash then you owe it to yourself to read this book, it’s breathtaking from start to finish.
That’s why it gets a…