Chris's Cosmic Treadmill – The Flash

flash32The Flash (2011) #32 – “Cold Call”; Written by Van Jensen & Robert Venditti, Art by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund, Colors by Andrew Dalhouse, Letters by Dezi Sienty

The new Flash creative team have — pardon the irresistible pun — hit the ground running. Taking the torch from the acclaimed Manapul-Buccellato team, Venditti, Jensen, Booth and Rapmund have charged forward with confidence and a seemingly clear vision. Yet, while they have lost little time getting going, they’re stumbling a bit along the way.


Prior to their tenure beginning, much of the anticipation focused on their plan to debut Wally West in the New 52 and discussion of the title since has continued to revolve around the character. While the character hasn’t appeared on that many pages, his death five years from the present has compelled future Barry Allen to work his way backward in time, “fixing” his mistakes. Future Flash looks pretty cool and the concept has potential, but issue #32 finds the character sitting still both literally and dramatically.


Future Barry visits long-time rogue Captain Cold in the hospital. The reveal of this character’s fate may elicit a little surprise but that dissipates quickly as Barry sits and talks at his comatose nemesis for two pages. Unfortunately, what he says reveals little new information; a quiet moment is one thing, one character delivering a monologue of minor import slows the pace of this issue to a crawl.


Present day Flash is a much more chipper fellow and his part of the story somewhat balances out his counterpart’s maudlin musings. Working to track down someone who has stolen high-tech weaponry, he must figure out how to best a gun that can merge any two things together. It’s a fun concept, the kind that readers of the many incarnations of The Flash have come to expect. Brett Booth’s approach to depicting the damage wrought by this weapon has mixed results. He goes for broke with his page design and panel transitions — often one of his strengths — but sometimes at the expense of clarity.


“Mixed results” describes Booth’s work on The Flash so far overall. Besides layouts, he illustrates a robust world, however his facial expressions sometimes fail to support the emotions of the script (see this issue’s closing scene) and, perhaps most egregious on a speedster book, his rendering of running is odd. The Flash seems to be flailing his arms as he runs and the result looks unnatural, even if the component parts of the figure look good.


Over three regular issues and an annual, the new creative team have shown off some compelling elements but have yet to put them together in a way that feels organic. Issue #32 is a middle chapter, so hopefully we’re still in for a strong finish. The strength of Jensen’s Green Lantern Corps and Venditti’s X-O Manowar suggest that’s quite possible.


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