STORY: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccelatto
ART: Francis Manapul
A few months back, I was all in a tiff about The Flash. I finally decided I should start reviewing the series here on “The Endless Reel”, and the first issue that comes around is nonstop speech bubbles about Weather Wizard’s past. It was excruciating and I honestly almost stopped reading the book. Fortunately, July’s excellent Captain Cold vs. Heat Wave was amazing, especially since it was precipitated by Barry giving himself a new identity and conversing with Cold in an old Rogues bar. The Flash #12 is like a flash of genius. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccelatto have finally found a pacing that works for Flash and his villains. Up through last month, there was always a bit of indecision when it came to the speed of the plot. Now, we’re beginning to see the reshaping of the Rogues under Captain Cold’s sister, Glider, and a massive conflict between the Rogues, Cold, and Flash.
Manapul and Buccelatto have developed such a tight grasp of the Flash that it’s uncanny how well they tell his stories. Barry Allen is mild-mannered, yes, but only to a certain point – in this issue, we see how Barry gets when he’s pushed past his comfort zone. There’s never any moments of doubt when it comes to how Manapul and Buccelatto write Barry; they understand his nuances and why the Flash can do and say so much more than Barry ever can. Before the ‘New 52’ relaunch, Barry was very much the same person in and out of costume – his sense of morality and his personality didn’t flinch. It was something that honestly held the Flash back from being a true A-Lister getting his own movies and the such. These days, there’s a clear distinction between the two sides of this man’s life and it makes his character all the better for it.
Captain Cold deserves mention as well. His radical revamp in his new universe suits him well. Like many reimagined characters, getting an age makeover does wonders for Captain Cold’s persona. It was always weird to see such an old, crotchety man on the streets battling a hero half his age for no other reason than to be bad. Cold has been reworked as a ‘rebel without a cause’ type who once had a purpose, but now lives life to the wind. It’s a dilemma many 20-somethings face, making Cold all the more relatable and grounded, despite the fact that he can create walls of ice in mere seconds.
Manapul and Buccelatto’s frantic script this month feels clustered at first, but eventually straightens out and packs about four big punches in a row before moving directly into the ‘reeling in awe’ stage. Rogues start coming out of the woodwork left and right, Glider takes steps to murder her brother and steal a monorail full of civilians, Flash confronts Dr. Darwin Elias about his accusations and slandering against the Scarlet Speedster, while Cold seeks revenge against his mutinous sister. There’s a lot more to everything than what I just outlined, but that’s the gist of things. Really, The Flash comes down to the details. Manapul and Buccelatto have mastered the art of subtle development and are now ready to tackle a full-scale super war starting in October, and I couldn’t be more excited.