The Flash The Heroes Journey follows on directly from the events of Gorilla Warfare. If you’ve read my prior reviews on the graphic novel then you know that I felt that it was a great book that added to a seminal series.
The Flash New 52 run thus far has been phenomenal in both art and storylines and every major event has delivered. However, The Heroes Journey takes place between two large arcs and, in my opinion, that tends to cause problems. Does it continue the consistency that we’ve had thus far before leading into ‘Reverse?’ Or is there a reason that this arc only lasts two issues?
Let’s dive in to find out!
The book opens with Barry narrating that since the attack on Gorilla City there has been fewer incidents that require his attention. It still hasn’t stopped him being a hero though. He helps by rebuilding businesses and buildings that were destroyed in the attack. It’s nice to see a mainstream comic book character that isn’t gun ho all the time. The Flash can actually assist the community in other ways and I think this is one of the main reasons for the character’s huge appeal. He is able to be the every man that just wants to lend a helping hand in any way that he can.
This peace doesn’t last forever though (nor would you expect it to). After a number of robberies the Trickster is arrested and his guilt immediately comes into question by those who know him best. Threatening to attack Central City Prison and release the new convict, The Outlanders, become the main antagonists of the plot.
Unfortunately The Outlanders don’t really possess the threat level that villains like Reverse Flash, Grodd and The Rogues have and as villains they feel like a big step down. It’s only upon losing his powers whilst tackling them that the stakes ramp up and this is when Barry must call upon others.
After saving them from the Speedforce in Gorilla Warfare, Albert and Gomez (don’t worry I didn’t know who they were either), have been endowed with ‘Flash like’ powers. Barry warns them off a life of vigilanteism, informing them that it’s not child’s play and from the off their legitimacy as heroes comes into questions.
However, I really disagreed with Barry’s outlook towards them. At one point he was an average man like they were and it’s only from dedicating himself to a cause that he gained the skill set that he now possesses. Albert and Gomez wish to partake in a heroic life after the inspiration set forth from the Scarlet Speedster and it’s a shame that rather than train the two Barry shuns them.
This is the first time that I really disagreed with Manapul’s depiction of the character and it seemed contradictory to the Flash’s core belief system, making it difficult to really side with him in this storyline.
During the latter issue Barry mysteriously loses his powers and he is forced to rely on the new speedsters. It feels very forced and unfortunately weighed negatively on me as a reader.
When his powers returned I honestly chalked the scenario up to lazy writing. The Flash could easily take down the Outlanders in any circumstances and the loss of powers was engineered in order to add tension artificially. It doesn’t really feel natural and is definitely the weakest plot device thus far in the New 52 run.
The true perpetrator of the Trickster’s crimes are eventually revealed but it is instantly forgettable and devoid of any true motive.
The book feels like a real downgrade and if it wasn’t for the newly designed Reverse Flash’s appearance on the final few pages there would be little here to warrant a fan picking it up.
The Heroes Journey feels like a huge disappointment to what thus far has been a fantastic run. It is totally devoid of a satisfying story and features none of the artistic flair by Bucellato that allows Manapul’s work to really leap from the page.
This storyline is completely skippable and feels like wasted time, especially when you know what comes next. Looking at it retroactively the plot points raised in this could have been removed and combined into the Reverse story that follows instead of dragged out here.
I really disliked The Hero’s Journey…no surprises there and due to this really cannot recommend it, even to die hard fans.
That’s why it gets a…