This week saw the authorial debut of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato in The Flash #1, and, boy, was it disappointing. The Flash is one of the retooled characters in the New DCU. We no longer have the Flash Legacy (Jay, Barry, Wally, and Bart); Barry isn’t married to Iris West; and he is on the younger side compared to his pre-Flashpoint days. I knew all of this going into the book, and, being a big Flash fan, I figured I could hit the ground running. But that’s the problem with Flash #1: if a Flash fan is scratching his head after reading a book, what is a new reader going to be thinking?
Batman and Green Lantern were relatively untouched so it makes sense that they picked up right where they left off. No need to reintroduce characters who haven’t changed; but, in Flash, we are dropped right into the middle of the new Barry Allen’s life, and it leaves the reader searching for some sort of footing. From what I could tell, we are at an early point in Barry’s career. He is still figuring out what frequency to vibrate at when falling from heights, and his attitude is a bit on the cocky side. Though I usually hate origin story recaps, I feel The Flash #1 could have benefited from one. It would have provided a foundation for the retooled Barry Allen that would have eased the transition from old to new.
Manapul and Buccellato’s story doesn’t help the reader ease into the character either. We start out with Barry on a date with fellow labmate, Patty Spivot, to a tech symposium featuring some of the brightest minds in Central City. A group of heavily armored thieves crash the party, and it’s up to The Flash to save the day. Except it’s not that easy: one of the thieves ends up dead, and it looks like it was Barry’s fault. To make matters worse, *****SPOILER**** the victim is an old college friend of Barry’s!****END SPOILER**** The story concept is pretty interesting, but the execution is very flawed. Manapul’s and Buccellato’s story telling is very disjointed, and I found myself flipping back and forth trying to figure out how we just went from point A to point D.
What The Flash #1 does have going for it is eye candy. Where Manapul struggles with a pen he makes up for in spades with his brush. I loved his work on The Flash when he was working with Geoff Johns and nothing has changed. He presents a softer, more cartoony stlye that really fits the character. He makes a great use of brush strokes to portray The Flash’s speed. Mix in Buccellato’s fantastic colors and you have what could be the best looking book of The New 52.
The Flash #1 was pretty disappointing. It had a weak story compounded by some rough witting. I wonder if there were too many cooks in this particular pot. I love The Flash, so I will keep on reading with hopes that Manapul and Buccelato’s writing improves with time.