Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #2

With this post on Flashpoint:Kid Flash Lost #2, I have finally caught up with last week's comic reviews. Unreal! That was one heavy week.

After looking at the unrelenting dystopia of Flashpoint, I have come to appreciate thus series. Writer Sterling Gates does a great job mixing Bart's upbeat, frenetic, impulsive personality into the dismal future of Flashpoint. It is an odd mix and a tricky balancing act, but it works. Bart needs to remain Bart despite all the horror around him. And the Flashpoint world needs to remain a dark and cheerless place. It would be easy to have Kid Flash become grim when faced with this world, maybe too easy. But then ... it wouldn't be Kid Flash. And with the occasional humor that is injected into the story, it is a welcome respite from the harshness of the Flashpoint event.

And Gates only has 3 issues to get through this story and provide us some characterization to contemplate. While there are times Bart's silliness can shine, he also has to eventually step up and become a hero. There is some subtext here, some feeling that Bart needs to channel Barry, needs to live up to the legacy of the Flash family, and I liked that a lot. I love the idea of the Flash family, the legacy of the speedsters, and this story adds to that.

As for the art, Oliver Nome continues to shine. I wonder if inker Trevor Scott adds a rougher feeling to his pencils than he would if he inked himself. Francis Manapul does his usual stellar job on the cover. It took a while before I noticed that this is actually a cover of Hot Pursuit's helmet, Bart being a reflection.

Freed from his Brainiac pod, Bart is slowly fading away as history is rewritten. And he is cut off from the Speed Force so there is little he can do but hide in the bowels of Brainiac's ship.

As always, for me the hero's journey is a story that I enjoy. Something that I enjoyed in the book is the tiny moment that Patty Spivot gets discussing her drive to be a hero. She couldn't sit and let life pass her by. She needed to do something to better the world and the Hot Pursuit tech gave her that opportunity. That sort of personal resolve, the desire to be a hero, is such a fertile place for stories.

Looking to get some information, Bart slaps the Hot Pursuit helmet on, hoping to learn what has happened to the world. This is a great double page spread by Nome as we see elements of both the 'real' DCU timeline as well as the Flashpoint world. Seeing the two versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman as well as everything else works. But it is too much for Bart to absorb. It is overwhelming.

But I love the perspective here, a large Bart in the background, the history spilling out onto the page.

With some luck, the two heroes escape Brainiac's satellite. It is a fun moment with Bart driving the time cycle while Patty clutches and curses. Again, that fun part of Bart's personality in the middle of Brainiac's technological nightmare is a nice contrast.

But that doesn't change the fact that the two need access to the speed force to power the Hot Pursuit cycle to go back and change time. Brainiac has the fuel tank. It seems hopeless.

But I love how Patty gets Bart re-focused by reminding him of the symbol he wears What would the Flash do? He would defeat Brainiac and set things right.

Ironically, Bart has a plan! Even he admits that usually means trouble.

Bart figures out that the only place he has had superspeed was in the VR world of the Brainiac's 'Matrix'. He allows himself to get captured and plugged back in. But of course, he needs to do it in a classic Bart way. Has anyone every said 'nyaaah' to Brainiac before? Wonderful!

Once plugged in, his access to superspeed allows Bart to rewrite Brainiac's codes. It is a nice reminder of Bart's origins of being raised in a VR world, a world he was constantly challenging and out-thinking. Once he knew he was in Brainiac's phony world, Bart had all the power and authority he needed to change Brainiac's defenses. Again, how great to see Bart say Brainiac is pwned.

This allows Patty to get in and grab the speed force tank while Bart extricates himself.

Despite these flashes of fun, Gates reminds us that this is Flashpoint. Patty gets perforated by Brainiac.

I suppose this is Bart's story but I was sad to see this happen. Patty was a 'normal person' trying to better her world. I would have loved to see more of her story. There is so much death in this world. It is a villains world. I hope Patty appears in the DCnU.

As she dies, she puts her faith in Bart, releasing the speed force stored in the tank, hooking Bart back in at least for a while. Even dying, she did what needed to be done.

Powered up, Bart is now running a race to find the Flash to go back in time and set things right. Again Nome shines here with this extreme perspective, Bart practically running off the page. I do like the ominous skull behind him. This is a race against death and that is a nice image to invoke that feeling.

But I think I know where this is going. A skeletal Flash, racing against the clock to try to save the universe?

Crisis on Infinite Earths #8. Will we see Bart go back in time trying to get to Barry? Is this a way of Bart fulfilling the legacy of the Flash? Becoming the Flash?

So this mini-series continues to rise to the top of the Flashpoint world along with Project Superman. It is such a satisfying and odd mix of despair and humor. That isn't an easy cocktail to make. Add to that the heroism of Patty and this was a very entertaining issue. It makes me lament the 'hinted at but never materialized' Speed Force comic Gates was supposed to write.

Overall grade: A


valerie21601 said...

While I am not buying ANY of the Flashpoint comics I am lucky that my local comic shop owner is letting me read some of the Flashpoint comics in his shop.

I have to say I really don't like the world of Flashpoint. It's cold, dreary, hopeless and no hope for tomorrow.

I know the "world will change in a flash" and into the DCnU world at the end of this series. From what I have read about this DCnU solicits it sounds like its turning into the world of Flashpoint on many levels and in many ways.

If DC really takes the path of a cold, heartless reality. They will lose a lot of new readers and not just old fans. After all comic book readers read comics to get away from reality for a brief while, want to get feel cold and depressed just watch the news for a half hour.

Anonymous said...

I haven't purchased any of the new Flashpoint stuff, but I love what I hear about the new DCU.

I think DC will gain a lot of new readers, but, perhaps, lose some of the old ones. People have, for a long time, escaped to things like Oedipus Rex, the Iliad, Raymond Chandler, and countless other works that are not "lighthearted". A lot of people don't want to escape to the world of Amelia Bedelia. Generally, when characters have more depth, the world is more realistic-- not black and white, the best writing comes about. Watchmen, Batman: Year One and Darkknight Returns are not lighthearted, "old-fashioned fun" stories. There is a good reason why they are given much more praise than 50's Supergirl stories. Better/more complex writing.

I am looking forward to this. The new Supergirl and the Action Comics Superman sound like such huge improvements over the way the characters have been portrayed the past 4 years.

valerie21601 said...

While there is a market for the dark, dreary, realistic literature be they books or comic books. The majority these days are wanting to find uplifting, positive stories.

Our own world is getting darker all of the time from politics to the economy to unemployment over 9%.

Your tone reminds me of the character of Carrie from the sitcom King of Queens.
When people are happy and satisfied with their lives around her she is quietly miserable about it. BUT when everyone around Carrie is sad, depressed and MISERABLE around her. She becomes her happiest, her cheeriest and she gloats about their misery.

Gears107 said...

I have to admit that kinda wish Patty didn't die like that, especially since she was finding her purpose. I suppose it did help drive the plot for Kid Flash, but it would've been cool if she had been there a bit longer for the ride. Though as you also noted, she did managed to make one heroic move to give Bart a chance to save the future.

My only hope would be that Patty returns as Hot Pursuit, perferably without dying.