Monday, December 8, 2014

'The Flash Vol. 4: Reverse' trade review

Anyone who watches "The Flash" TV series knows the Scarlet Speedster's confrontation with Reverse-Flash, his mother's killer, is inevitable.

In fact, if you watched the Flash-Arrow fight in the alley during the crossover last week, you saw The Flash speeding around Arrow in a circle, creating his red blur — just as Reverse-Flash did with a similar blur about the time he murdered Barry Allen's mother. (Credit goes to my girlfriend Liz Truxell for noticing the similarities. "What the heck!?," she exclaimed. "He's doing the exact same thing he did before he killed Barry's mom.")

And that brings me to the New 52 introduction of Reverse-Flash in THE FLASH Nos. 20-25. The biggest difference with the original, pre-New 52 villain — beyond his ability — is his costume is mostly black with a red, V-shaped chest area instead of the classic yellow outfit, which we've glimpsed in the TV series. (Am I the only one who didn't know the Reverse-Flash's logo features a lightning bolt that goes in the opposite direction as The Flash's? Or am I just being slow again?)

By now, readers know Reverse-Flash is Daniel West, Iris' brother, so that's no spoiler. (Even if this review comes many months after the publication of the original issues; as I say: My blog, my time frame!)

I don't get West's motivation for using the Speed Force to go back in time and killing his father. It seems to be nothing more than an overblown "daddy issue" over the elder West who threw coffee at his son and killed his cricket with coffee. … Really?!? Yup, that's West's motivation — aside from his father supposedly coming between the connection Daniel West has with his sister. That's lame — even for comic books. West's motivation to kill three other people is even flimsier.

Iris West gets her Kid Flash-like
costume from The Flash in
The most enjoyable part of the "Reverse" storyline is The Flash chasing Kid Flash around the world because he is suspected of being the Speed Force killer. Besides revealing (again!) just how annoying and stubborn Kid Flash is, it's fun to see the two run to locales such as Paris, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Ultimately, this chapter treads water, from a storytelling perspective. The only things going on are The Flash and Kid Flash meet for the first time and Allen learns is the younger speedster isn't from the this time and isn't part of the Speed Force (something I predict will be introduced in the TV series eventually). And of course, Kid Flash wants nothing to do with The Flash. None of this is a shocker.

By the end of this "meh" story, I wanted to two things that weren't adequately addressed: 1) How West gained his Reverse-Flash powers/how he gained access to the Speed Force and even more so, 2) the dynamic between Iris West (looking sharp in a Kid Flash-like costume used to mask the effects of the Speed Force) and Allen's live-in girlfriend and co-worker, Patty Spivot. The expected tension just wasn't there. I wasn't wanting a catfight certainly, but some sort of drama, a hint of sexual tension or a bond someone among the three characters would have added some nice spice to this storyline. What's the point of putting two women in Allen's world if the writer doesn't take advantage of the all that complicated female mojo — and certainly the storytelling possibilities?

And that's what this "Reverse" storyline lacks — any sort of mojo. Ironic for the World's Fastest Man. Grade: C+

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