Tuesday, February 28, 2017

'The Life Story of the Flash by Iris Allen' is informative

Any time I pick up a comic book written by Mark Waid I know I will read a solid and enjoyable story.

And that's what THE LIFE STORY OF THE FLASH BY IRIS ALLEN is. It's self-explanatory by its very title.

The love of Barry Allen's life tells his life story, colored by her perception of those same events. It extends slightly beyond the Flash's death. So thanks to Iris, I learned a bit more about Barry's successor, Wally West, whose origin is sadly a direct, unoriginal redo of Barry's, and their grandson Impulse, not to mention the complicated Flash family tree.

LIFE STORY is told in chronological order. Written by Waid and Brian Augustyn, it's mostly in paragraph form. The writers do a fine job of telling Barry and Iris' life together and her perspective on the Flash's villains is fresh and honest.

Every page features artwork pencilled by three great artists: Gil Kane, Joe Staton and Tom Palmer. Their artwork blends rather seemlessly together; only the most diehard fan would know the difference.

One each page is one or more color panels which illustrate what part of Barry's life (and/or hers) she's discussing. While I'm certain there's a fair amount of original art, most of it is a modern take on what happened in previous comics. At times there are three to five comic-book-like pages -- complete with captions and dialogue or thought balloons which take up where Iris' narrative leaves off. This gives the reader the feeling of reading a book, but one that has a definitive comic book feel.

I have to assume this 1997 trade paperback was published exactly in that form, as opposed to this being released in several issues. Sure, there are 17 chapters and an epilogue, but each chapter is very short, much too brief for an entire issue. Plus, there's no sense of ending each one in enough of a cliffhanger to set up the next issue.

LIFE STORY is best for fans who 1) don't know anything about the Flash/Barry Allen, 2) of the CW TV series who want to know about the comic-book original and/or 3) want to clarify what they know from reading other comics -- or think they know -- about the Scarlet Speedster. Regardless, you will learn plenty.

Grades - Story: B; Art: B+

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