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THE FLASH #21 Review

Can We Get a Flash Series Where He Just Runs Around Racing 

With all the events, creative team changes, and overhyped projects DC Comics markets to fans, they often bury some of the books that have been consistent for them month in and month out. After the return of Francis Manapul on art for The Flash; the book feels like it’s hitting a story telling stride.

Issue twenty-one explores the differences of the Flash/Kid Flash relationship in the New 52. Where old DCU Bart was a hero-worshipping adolescent, here in the New52 he’s a snotty teenager who acts as though he resents being in the Barry’s shadow. Kid Flash doesn’t want any sort of interaction with Barry, but with the Flash chasing down the only lead of a speed force murder, not meeting isn’t an option. Seeing how their speed force shenanigans affect each other and the world around them is meticulously capitalized upon by Francis & Brian; energy is blown into the sky, people’s days are just ruined. Barry chases Bart around the world in a way hasn’t been this much fun to watch since Burt Reynolds escaped Buford T. Justice. Meanwhile several plot threads are progressed in a contrasting slower pace that could have been jarring but simply work well here. Patty and Barry’s relationship continues to blossom, while the West family looks to mend fences. All that while we see the new Reverse Flash hunt down another speed force victim and build to next month’s face to face.

Buccellato and Manapul are one of the best tandems in comics today. Together they are the human embodiment of storytelling. There is as much care for supporting characters like Patty, Iris, and Danny as there is for Barry himself. Unlike the rush of Gorilla Warfare and the Rogues, it feels as if the team is letting the story breathe in order to craft a delicate murder mystery that challenges both sides of Barry Allen. If there’s any problem with the issue it’s that it feels a bit short. By the time Barry and Bart finish their showdown you’re just about at the end of a book, when you get one lead in page for next month. It’s like a Ferrari hitting a sudden stop sign. Readers are left to wait for next month to find out the motives behind the new Reverse Flash. As a side effect, the book lays out more intrigue for Bart’s character and any writer who works on him should thank these guys for giving them layers to work with in the future.

Where the book shines is in the art. Every page is laid out to perfection, making gorgeous use of the most ingenuous panel design in comics today. Big character moments like Bart and Barry chasing each other over different continents are blended perfectly with the small details in the panels. Not only are the readers’ eyes guided in a smooth imaginative manner; it also adds to the strength of the narrative in the process. Francis Manapul has a unique eye for drawing surreal scenes with his uncanny ink & wash style. Buccellato has colored for tons of different artist in comics but Manapul brings out the best in that part of his craft and pushes his use of effects and different color palettes.

While issue twenty-one merely serves as a bridge to the audience in the mystery of the murderous Reverse Flash; it’s far from a throw away issue. We see a few more pieces of the murder mystery puzzle and overall character threads progress nicely while being treated to one hell of a race between the two explosive speedsters.

8 out of 10 Great!