Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #3

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #3 came out last week, adding another step to the journey ending the old DCU continuity. Written by Sterling Gates and drawn by Oliver Nome (with some help by Scott Kolins), the book is part of the Flashpoint storyline but still separate from the main world story. In that way, it is similar to Project Superman, sort of an adjunct title, adding some depth to the overall plot but set apart enough to stand on its own.

There is a lot to like about this mini-series, a story that pin wheels around a bit. This issue is such a great goodbye card to current Flash continuity, almost a love letter to the post-Crisis Flash family, a hero legacy which I think has lost much of its emotional punch with the resurrection of Barry Allen. Allen's sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths was such an inspiration to every speedster, an important part of the Flashes' characterization, especially Wally. In this issue, Gates puts Kid Flash into Barry's shoes, Flashpoint being his equivalent of the Crisis. And in doing so, Gates is able to touch on a lot of Flash history bringing this hero family story to a satisfying closure.

Perhaps for me the most interesting thing is the flow of this mini-series. What started out as a relatively straight-forward science fiction Matrix-like story to this issue's race through time. I could not have anticipated that sort of jump from one rail to another. But it isn't distracting that the theme of the story changes so dramatically. It flows well. Besides, this issue is such a great finale for the Flash family, there is a lot to love. And that includes some nice homages to Crisis on Infinite Earths #8.

Oliver Nome's art is appropriately ragged for the plot, decaying and flaking their way through history.

The issue starts out in the late 1800's where we see Max Mercury (before he was Max Mercury) speeding to investigate a bizarre storm off in the distance. What he comes across is Bart now dressed up in a Black Flash costume.

The Black Flash is sort of a Death character, purportedly seen just before the death of a super-speedster. Last issue we saw Bart trying to reach Barry. So why is he here? And why is he dressed like that?

But this panel is clearly an homage panel. Look at Bart.

And now look at this panel from Crisis on Infinite Earths #2. This was one of Barry's appearances as he races back in time while saving the universe.

Bart is basically like Barry here, racing to save the world. This homage is just a nice way to get that point across.

In a bizarre twist of events, Bart ends up acting as the Black Flash draining Max of his speed force energy, killing Mercury.

For some reason the Speed Force has brought Bart to that point before whisking him away.

Will there be a Max Mercury in the DCnU?

But Max is just the first stop on Bart's deadly trip through super-speed history.

Next he comes across Jay Garrick right after he has 'inhaled hard water fumes'. And like with Max, Bart absorbs all the Speed Force energy and pushes him along. It is enough to make Bart wonder if there is a bigger plan here than just spreading death.

As he tumbles through time, Bart sees not only the harsh world of Flashpoint but also his past life, working with Young Justice and Teen Titans.

And then we get to Wally. Wally must have died in the Citizen Cold Flashpoint story. He is dead and buried.

Bart is still able to absorb the Speed Force from his body and move on.

But I agree with Bart. This is wrong. Wally shouldn't be dead. Wally shouldn't be gone.

Where is Wally? Does he even exist in the DCnU? And what a loss if he doesn't. For me, Wally is the Flash. Bringing back Barry just cheapened Barry and lessened Wally.

Juiced with Speed Force, Bart suddenly sheds the Black Flash suit. There is no more super-speed energy to gather.

It is clear to Bart that he needs to get all that energy to the person who needs it the most ... Barry.

So Gates has taken us to Max and Jay and Wally. He has shown us snippets of Bart's history.

And now we see Bart finally catching up to Barry who is also speeding through the time stream, I assume to set everything right in the DC timeline (or as right as the DCnU continuity can be called).

I love how Gates brings in images from Barry's life from scenes like outracing a car in Showcase #4 to imploding the Anti-Monitor's cannon in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 to chasing down the Radion bullet in Final Crisis.

And then Bart tells Barry to run and save the world, giving Barry all the energy he has gathered.

Kid Flash sacrifices himself so Barry can be the hero. He becomes the White Flash, I suppose the giver of life. And despite disintegrating, despite dying, Bart is smiling as he falls through time.

Contrast that smile ... that peace with heroic sacrifice to this ...

Again, another homage to Barry's sacrifice, that decay and death ... that need for speed to save the world. But Barry's dread isn't there. Bart shows unusual maturity for him as he accepts his fate.

Again, the comparison to Crisis #8 works so well here as Bart is a secret hero in this Flashpoint world.

And so now it is a race for Barry, a race to stop Zoom from creating the Flashpoint world.

And Barry is racing for all the speedsters, all the Flash Family. Although to be honest, I wonder just who on this page outside of Barry and Bart make it into the DCnU. (I guess Jay will be on Earth 2, maybe Jessie there too).

Anyways, as its own story, I really liked Kid Flash Lost. But I loved this issue. Much like the endings of many of the monthly series, I think Sterling Gates used this issue to say goodbye to the post-Crisis Flash mythology. Those stories, especially the bulk written by Mark Waid, were superlative.

So thanks to Sterling Gates for letting me say a little goodbye to all that stuff, for showing just how tall and intricate the Flash Family tree is. And for once again showing that a hero's journey sometimes comes to an abrupt but appropriate ending.

I do find it interesting that the two pieces of Flashpoint I liked the best were on the periphery of the main story.

And now ... the DCnU.

Overall grade: A

No comments: