There’s a confidence rare in a first issue, as they take up where Tom Peyer and Freddie E Williams II left off last month, with Wally and Linda’s kids, Jai and Iris, cured of their premature ageing spurts. Thus, Wally’s a happy bunny, taking his kids on a jolly to Dinosaur Island, then Central City for a recap of Wally’s origin, where they run into C-list JLA villains Shatter Fist, Fastball and Black Mass. Back home there’s a shock for the kids – now they’re well, the Wests are enrolling them in school. Ha, fight that, super-kids!
The meat of the issue involves Wally taking on an apparently new villain who’s using genetically modified bees to kill people, in search of Suicide Squad chief Amanda Waller’s pet power pack. While tackling this situation Wally surmises that recent cramps are down to the return of his old speed of sound power limitation, likely the result of using his speed force to cure his kids.
The action is enticing, but what really sold me on Burnett’s script was the personality he injected into the characters. The West talk, and interact, like real people; the kids, especially, benefit from this, reacting like children without being over-cutesy. And for the first time in God knows how long – doubtless aided by her youngsters’ improved lifespan – Linda Park-West gets to smile.
And under Paco Diaz’ pencils, with inks by Drew Geraci and Rebecca Buckman, it’s a gorgeous smile. Heck, this is an all-over good-looking family, right down to the new pet we almost meet this issue courtesy of a Peter David-style splash page aside. Lesser characters are equally well-served, with Diaz putting more personality into a delivery man than some heroes get in their entire careers – seriously, look at the body language when he asks ‘hello?’. Diaz also does great gnarly victims.
The horror of the bee deaths scene is emphasised by the colours of Tanya and Richard Horie, who, with the simple decision to colour the bugs and leave victims and lab grey-tone, make the nastiness pop. Their choices are equally good in the rest of the issue, as we move from exotic Dinosaur Island to the calmer Midwest and DayGlo Florida.
Brian Stelfreeze’s cover has grown on me since I first saw it online, with the blurring of the bees and twisting of the Flash cleverly conveying the idea of speed.
I was a tad snarky about the idea of Alan Burnett taking over this book last month but I’m thrilled to have my preconceptions shattered; this is one seriously smart, fun comic.
Now, if only he’d bring back Mary West – this is the man to do the great woman justice!