The Flash’s New 52 run thus far has been a rather mixed bag. After getting off to a great start I feel that since the creative team change that all of the storylines have suffered.
Here to potentially redeem the work is The Flash: Zoom! Fans of the TV show will be well aware of the character and seeing his name on the title has rather revitalised my interest in the series.
Does the villain have the potential to put the books back on track? That’s what I’m here to find out!
There will be some spoilers in this review so if you want to go in fresh it may be best to skip to the score and return at a later date.
With that out the way let’s dive into The Flash: Volume 8: Zoom!
Flash in the pan
Unlike most graphic novels these days, ‘Zoom’ hits the ground running. Within the first page he is causing havoc for the hero and I loved how instantaneous this book had me hooked. Whilst it eventually doesn’t prove to be the Big Bang I expected for a first issue it still at least epitomises exactly how the villain will be. Often comics have an introductory chapter where the hero takes down a z-list villain, we see a tease of the true antagonist and their encounter is drawn out and diluted. Where Zoom succeeds is that the villain shows up immediately and lets you know that this is going to be something different. I loved watching him take gleeful joy from watching Flash fail and he instantly cements himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Allen On The Run
Henry Allen is often neglected in stories and when he does appear he is used more as a plot device rather than a fully fleshed out character. I often find this disappointing. ‘Zoom’ however, corrects this. Escaping prison early on, Henry becomes infinitely more interesting than in his other incarnations and his journey to stop Zoom from destroying Barry is arguably one of the book’s most intriguing aspects.
Of course, Zoom is well aware of Allen Senior’s plot and sinisterly stalks the escaped convict during his run from the law. Attracting police, murdering bystanders and ruining his reputation in several ways, the sickening speedster is a curse for the character and it’s engaging to see the levels that he sinks to in order to have his fun.
Locked out the case, Barry must deal with the fact that his father may not be the role model that he’s always thought him out to be and I adored the way that Zoom was able to torture his arch-nemesis by hurting those that he loves.
Zoom Zoom Zoom Zoom I want you in my room
Unfortunately as the book took the focus away from Zoom it also lost my interest. As he attempts to take over the city, precedence is given to his henchmen and on the whole, they are a completely boring bunch. Fitted with generic powers, they just feel like hurdles for the hero but provide very little in terms of intrigue and development.
This is a shame as when the group are dispatched the plot returns to what fans were eagerly awaiting, the showdown between Zoom and The Flash. However these filler sections cannot be ignored and when they take up at least a quarter of the graphic novel, they are to its detriment.
By the time the story finally does get back on track we have spent so much of it seeing inconsequential things that there is very little time to provide Zoom with the true potential he could have had. Reduced to merely a cackling villain by the finale there is little motive to his madness and he becomes just another run of the mill monster that The Flash Must stop.
End Of The Hunt
Attempting to steal The Flashes abilities, Zoom’s overall plan seems almost childlike and isn’t really fit for a villain of his stature. When Flash stops this the two battle their way back to Barry’s home and whilst the character finally gets some answers in regards to his Mother’s Murder, the pay off feels rather hollow.
Those familiar with the TV show will already have the pre-knowledge of the revelations of This Battle and because of this the gut punch that it should have been was less impactful. What’s most perplexing is that the delivery of the twist is done in far worse fashion than it’s television counterpart even though it was written years later. This is inexcusable to me and really robs the finale of the quality that I was expecting.
Zoom starts off brilliantly but gets worse and worse as time goes on. Even it’s characters can’t outrun their predictable arcs and by the book’s final pages I was desperate for it to end.
The Flash has really struggled to find its footing after the departure of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato and unfortunately, this graphic novel doesn’t get the series back on track. There are some nice touches here and there but overall it feels extremely by the numbers and that’s why it gets a…