Comic Review – The Flash #1 (DC Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

More DC reviews! It feels genuinely great to be picking up a large number of DC Comics again, and hopefully the quality and momentum will continue past all of these first issues in the new post-Rebirth era. Speaking of momentum, this week I picked up The Flash #1 from the same creative as the The Flash: Rebirth issue with Joshua Williamson on writing duties, art from Carmine Di Giandomenico, colours by Ivan Plascencia and letters from Steve Wands (with the cover by Karl Kerschel). The Flash: Rebirth indicated that at least part of the ongoing Rebirth story will be taking place in the pages of The Flash, but typically the character is one of the more unique and interesting in superhero comics, so that is reason enough to check it out!

The Flash

Cover art by Karl Kerschl

Despite being the fastest man alive, Barry Allen can’t be everywhere at once. He speeds around Central City saving lives, but ends up late to a crime scene for his day job as a forensic scientist. He tries to solve a murder case, but ends up being late to meet Iris West and her nephew Wally. And before that is finished, a series of incidents crop up in the city, so he rushes off and tries to deal with a burning building full of people and a besieged STAR Labs transport at the same time. But is he is fast enough to do both? Probably not, as that wouldn’t be particularly satisfying drama. But who is The Black Hole? And what is happening to Barry’s friend, Detective Heart?

Following on from The Flash: Rebirth, Williamson continues to write a Barry Allen here with a great deal of heart, desperately trying to help as many people as he can despite being stretched to his limits. In fact, he’s even called on this flaw by Iris, albeit from the perspective of him always being late and absent minded. And she doesn’t even know he is The Flash  (I think, I’m struggling to keep the New 52 and pre-New 52 timelines straight in my head, especially now as they start to meld them together). The characterisations and the strong supporting cast are handed deftly by Williamson, leading into what will hopefully be an interesting and dynamic story. The ongoing Rebirth narrative takes a back seat in this first issue, paid lip service to in the opening pages as a concern that Barry and Wally (old Wally West) will both be addressing over time, with the help of Batman (a team up I particularly enjoyed in The Flash: Rebirth). Which works for me, as I think that plot and this book will both be served best by a slow unravelling of the mystery rather than as a focus.

The Flash 2

Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, colours by Ivan Plascencia, letters by Steve Wands

You can’t really have a good Flash book without being able to describe the art as kinetic and dynamic, and unsurprisingly those are two words I can comfortably apply here to Di Giandomenico’s slightly heavy line-work and expressive action and motion. Scenes where we see the comic book hero actually saving lives and fighting crime (shock!) are really excellent here, with Barry somehow managing to battle all the major elements in some form or another in the process. But it’s the scenes where The Flash speeds in and out of a burning building, with multiple shots of him in the same panel running around and saving people, that really stand out in this issue. This is all highlighted by the vibrancy of Plascencia’s colours (especially in the burning building), with even the calmer dialogue-driven scenes boasting a bright palette that is in keeping with the tone of both this book and the character himself.

Heart. Kinetic. Dynamic. Those are things I expect from The Flash and this creative team delivers on all three. Another DC ongoing that I’m happy to be sticking with. Pick this up at your local comic book shop or digital comics platform now!

Score: 8 Speedsters out of 10

Comic Review – DC Universe Rebirth (DC Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

DC Rebirth has finally started. After months of vagueness, speculation and secrecy, spoilers for the one shot DC Universe Rebirth went online this week before the issue hit the stands. Regardless, I somehow managed to avoid these spoilers despite existing on the internet (no mean feat these days), and as someone whose pull list of DC Comics has whittled down to two books as of late, I was eager to see what was in store for this relaunch/reboot/totallynotareboot/shot in the arm from DC. I’m going to give it a quick review, trying to avoid spoilers where I can while still commenting on the reveals contained in the issue.

Rebirth was written by Geoff Johns, the long time Justice League writer responsible for ‘rebirthing’ both The Flash and Green Lantern in the past, to great success.  Joining him on the book are several artists: Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez, Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Joe Prado, Matt Santorelli, Hi-Fi and Gabe Eltaeb, with letters from Nick J Napolitano.

Rebirth cover

Cover by Gary Frank & Brad Anderson

Five years ago, following what transpired in the Flashpoint event when Barry Allen attempted to save his mother’s life and had to deal with the consequences of meddling with the time line, the DC Universe was changed. This resulted in a modern DC Universe referred to as ‘The New 52’ until recently, despite the number of books no longer being the 52 that launched when this reboot first happened. The time frame of the superhero universe as we knew it had been shrunk to 5 years, legacies were lost, relationships and friendships were weakened and characters were forgotten. This isn’t a unique criticism from me, rather it forms the backbone of Rebirth, and the resurgence of all of this seems to be what will occupy the DC Universe for the foreseeable future.

The damage done to the timeline wasn’t caused by the Flash’s jaunt into the past to save his mother it seems. Instead it was a mysterious figure from outside of time that interfered when everything was being put back together. A long lost character, aware of the damage done, struggles to return to the world and to contact those he once knew, who have all since forgotten him. If he can’t make it though, he’ll at least try to get a message through that the world is wrong and in danger, even if it kills him. Meanwhile, throughout the issue the identity of the culprit who put the universe back together wrong is slowly teased, until it is made clear by the end. More on that in a bit.

Throughout Rebirth there is a definite feel of making amends and of course-correcting. Adventure, fun and romance are all injected into the universe, along with touching base with characters and concepts that have been missing over the past 5 years. But rather than totally erasing the New 52 universe and acting like the old reality never left, DC is trying to have its cake and eat it too by melding the two together. There is a risk of trying to serve too many masters here, and they could wind up not satisfying anyone, but DC clearly feels like the risk is worth it.

As for the gamble? We’ll see if it pays off. Rebirth is at its heart, a very enjoyable and lengthy comic. There are emotional beats that absolutely land. Of the two big reveals? The first absolutely worked for me and paid off in a big way later. As for the big twist at the end? Not so much. Trying my best to avoid spoilers in case you too have managed to dodge them up until now. The person behind the curtain as it were (or people in a way) involves melding another comics property into continuity that as yet is unconnected with the DC Universe. And honestly? I don’t think works. I don’t think every story needs to be a part of the universe (or multiverse) and while it serves here as a convenient explanation for the world we now have, in my opinion it severely undercuts the impact of that other story and world from which these characters have been taken. Ultimately though, if the stories to come are interesting it doesn’t really matter.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about the art. In the past, especially when dealing with events, DC has drawn in multiple artists into a single book in a manner that feels jarring. From page to page, the flow of art has suffered from inconsistent and often nonsensical changes between pencils and sometimes colours too. Rebirth avoids this by having discrete chapters completely drawn by a single art team, allowing for a compartmentalised yet complete flow. There is a kinetic and vibrant feel throughout the book that benefits from being framed around the particular narrator of Rebirth. This vibrancy is key to the overall tonal shift of bringing a sense of wonder and adventure back into the book, where big and fun superhero art is pushed to the forefront. And the colour palette across the chapters is consistently bright, adding to the sense of optimism as things move forward.

Rebirth splash

Art from Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Hi-Fi

As a single issue, I really enjoyed DC Universe Rebirth. It looked great, and it seems to be forcing, however haphazardly, legacy and fun back into the DC Comics universe. I may not be hugely keen on the mechanisms they are using, but I am fascinated to see the effect that Rebirth will have on the line. As such, I’m not going to give the issue a score as in this situation I don’t think it would be conducive to the overall discussion about the comic and Rebirth at large. I am interested to hear your thoughts on the issue and what you hope will come out of Rebirth, so please comment on the article or get in touch via twitter @lost_lighthouse or @spacecowboyface to let us know what you thought. Kit and I plan on checking out the majority of the new series in the wake of Rebirth, so watch this space for what we think of a lot of the new #1s over the coming months.

Adam

Comic Review – The New 52: Futures End #48

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

There will be definite spoilers

This week saw the finales of all three of DC Comics’ weekly series, before the Convergence event starts next week. As I have kept up with two of them since the beginning, I’ve decided to review both of them. Futures End started back in May 2014, and throughout its 48 issue run it has been written by the team of Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen. This issue was drawn by Allan Goldman, Freddie Williams II, Andy McDonald and Stephen Thompson, with additional inks from Scott Hanna, colours by Hi-Fi and letters from Tom Napolitano.

Taking over as the new Batman Beyond a couple of issues ago, former Robin Tim Drake (from 5 years in the future of the current DCU) travelled back in time to avert an inter-dimensional incursion and put a stop to the desolate world controlled by the AI Brother Eye 35 years from now (so 30 years from his timepoint). After convincing Brother Eye to self destruct, he returned to his own time to find his girlfriend Madison waiting for him… or so he thought. It turns out he had been sent forward 35 years, finding that this was an illusion, and the nightmare future had still happened. All the heroes, villains and civilians had all still been infected and turned into twisted cyborg puppets by Brother Eye, and Drake was up next. Fortunately a resistance group, including The Atom, Amethyst and an older Madison, turn up to save him, and they all escape into the sewers. The team shows Tim that they have lost, no matter what they have tried, no matter what he or Terry McGinnis did. But he refuses to believe that, leaving the series on a cliffhanger ending staring down a crumbling city overlooked by a Brother Eye-emblazoned moon.

If that didn’t really make a lot of sense, that’s probably because the issue and series as a whole has walked that line a lot over the last 48 issues. I think Futures End had a good premise, a sort of reverse Terminator with Batman Beyond sent back from a horrible world to prevent the terrible mistakes that led to it. And things go wrong, as is standard. But the story got bogged down and dragged out in Earth-2 invasions, Cadmus and somewhat predictably Brainiac, largely starring a cast of relatively less well known characters. I wouldn’t really have a problem with this last point if they had at any point given me a reason to care about what happened to any of them. Futures End could have made a decent (if slightly depressing) mini-series, but the nearly year-long run has been bloated and largely pointless. Especially when it turns out that the entire mission totally failed anyway, thus rendering everything else redundant as it is unlikely that the 5 years from now storylines will be revisited. A more satisfying story may have spent more time in the Brother Eye future, which seems more ripe for a compelling narrative, rather than just the #0 issue, this one and a few scattered moments in between. This final issue is fine overall with regards to the writing (though I remain unclear on who wrote each issue), the dialogue is decent too, but it doesn’t read at all like a culmination of everything before it. It doesn’t even read like a finale, probably because it isn’t one really, just a set up for whatever is coming next.

The art is mostly average, again similar to the entire run. There has rarely been anything particularly spectacular shown off, rather it has always been inconsistent as there seemed to be about four artists on every issue, and never a stylistic reason for it happening (as there was in the final issue of Batman Eternal this week). Again, a mini series or event of this may have gone further and allowed for more consistency in the art by not having to stick to the weekly schedule. Although the last page was pretty good. I just have no idea who drew it.

Futures End was a nice concept pulled down by its own run length and inconsistency. The finale was an average read, with a serviceable story and art and an ending that effectively says what we all know – no matter what you do to try and change things for the better, nothing will change and everything you do is ultimately, crushingly pointless. Fin.

Score: 5 Creepy Hero Statues out of 10

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 33 – People Are Awful People

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, brought to you by The Lost Lighthouse.

This week we chat about the Marvel and Sony deal to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the end of DC’s New 52 after Convergence, Marvel’s A-Force and the reported length of The Order 1886, while Gary struggles with words and Adam sounds like he is actually dying from the boredom of his own voice.

Gary in 60 Seconds this week was on the recent Robocop remake. Did he make it, and what did he think?

This week’s buzzword was ‘Diversity’ apparently, as it was mentioned in nearly every news story.

If you have any thoughts. questions or opinions on anything this week you can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.


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Comic Review – The New 52: Futures End #14

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

I thought I would finally do a review of Futures End this week, as I have been reading it for 3 1/2 months now and everything else I’ve bought this week is eiither part of the Superman: Doomed event, or a series I have already reviewed. Also, I know, third DC comics review in a row. I’m sorry, next one with be creator owned or Marvel, I promise (don’t hold me to that, money is tight). Futures End is the second weekly DC book this year, the first being Batman Eternal and the last being Earth 2: World’s End. Writing duties are apparently split (unclearly) between Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen (more on that later), with pencils from Aaron Lapresti, inks from Art Thibert, colours by Hi-Fi and letters from Taylor Esposito.

Futures End is set (mostly) 5 years into the future of the current DC universe. The story started in the Free Comic Book Day Futures End #0, 35 years from the present day. In a bleak apocalyptic future, Brother Eye (a sentient satellite) has taken over and converted most of the world’s heroes and villains into grotesque cyborg-zombie creations, having achieved near complete control of the globe. The last remaining heroes mount a final desperate attempt to thwart him, it fails, leaving Batman (of course) to his backup plan – travel back in time to the present day, to prevent this from ever happening. However, Brother Eye’s forces arrive and wound Bruce before transport is ready, forcing him to send back Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond) in his stead. Unfortunately, things go awry and Terry arrives 5 years too late, with things already in motion that will lead to the terrible future his is trying to prevent.

Issue #14 picks up with Big Barda and Emiko facing off against Deathstroke and Fifty Sue, agents for Cadmus trying to round up ‘unregistered super-powered alternate Earth fugitives’. We also see some more from Grifter and Fifty Sue (apparently she can be in two places at once) investigating the stealth OMAC on Cadmus island, there is a small check in Terry and the folks he plans on breaking into Terrifitech with, but this thread doesn’t really move forward a lot (considering it is ultimately what I would consider the main plot), and an even smaller catch up with Cal (ex-Red Robin). The main revelation comes right at the end, with Lois Lane being shown a mysterious vision of an alternate world or strange future. Not a lot is really made clear from it, it is more a cliffhanger ending that all of the Futures End issues seem to end on. There is also a nice little tease about what is going on with Superman which should be pretty interesting.

The writing in this issue is fine, and while the dialogue is a bit shaky at points it isn’t too noticeable (though I am getting  a bit bored of all the references to ‘the war’ that happened at some point in the 5 years with Earth 2). The quality of both the story and dialogue has varied greatly from issue to issue,  with it being particularly bad in a couple of them. Writing duties are split between 4 well known writers, and we don’t know who is writing each but it doesn’t make for a totally cohesive experience.  The art is pretty good here, with the action in particular looking nice. Occasionally the faces are a bit off, in particular the first panel with Cal in it. That is not what a beard looks like on someone’s face., especially as the amount of it changes in the next panel.

Overall I am enjoying the story, but I care a great deal less about some story arcs (for example, Grifter’s internment on Cadmus Island) than I do others (I find Cal’s story and beard oddly compelling, plus I really could do with more from the 35 years in the future era) so find it frustrating when an issue focusses more on something that, at the moment, doesn’t seem to be advancing the plot much at all. I’m also not completely clear on why everyone needs to be a dick in the future. I feel like if this was a monthly comic, with each of the many story threads (some of which don’t appear at all in this issue) moving at the same pace in between issues, I would have dropped it by now. The story moves at a decent pace as a weekly book, but the drawback to that is that you are shelling out for it much more often. This issue was fairly average, some have been borderline terrible while some have been particularly good.  I’m going to stick with it, mainly because I am invested at this stage and want to see how it all plays out. Next month are the one-shot Futures End comics for each of the regular monthly DC books, to see where each of the characters are in 5 years. If you don’t really care about DC books, or are only really interested in a few characters, maybe give the series a miss. If you are interested in what that is all about and aren’t already reading it, check out Futures End. I think it should be relatively easy to pick up from any issue, but back issues are probably quite easy to find anyway (or go digital).

Score: 6 OMACs out of 10