Covid-19 put paid to a cruise I was meant to be taking this month but thanks to this DC Digital First debut, I get to go on holiday. My companions? Iris West, Barry Allen… and King Shark.
Scary. The issue opens in media res, with Barry, in his superheroic identity as The Flash, facing a very big problem.
And the evening had begun so well.
Writer Gail Simone, artist Clayton Henry and friends craft – no pun intended – a wonderful one-and-done story. In 16 pages they spotlight Barry’s keen mind as much as his super-speed, show Iris inspiring and challenging him and evoke a smidgeon of sympathy for one of the scariest villains in the DC Universe.
That dancing page is a gem, bringing a rare, real sense of romance to a superhero story; Simone knows what love is, and Henry captures the tenderness and bliss Barry and Iris are feeling. There’s an equally wonderful moment later in the issue, a delightful flashback of the boy Barry and dad Henry watching Jaws at the cinema – Simone’s well-chosen words and Henry’s nuanced expressions perfectly capture a relationship.
Henry also deserves enormous credit for taking the time to draw in the detail of the clothing – how many times have you seen a suit in comics that hangs like nothing in real life, or a tuxedo that’s solid black, no detail? Here we see where Barry‘s lapels meet the front of the jacket, how the cloth creases. Check out the floatiness of Iris’s gown, the details of her shoes and clutch bag.
The artist even manages to make super-speed look fresh after eight decades of Flash stories – just look at Barry’s fiery flying fists!
And the colours of Marcelo Maiolo make the pages even better; the sunshine as Barry phones Iris, the night-time sky and waves, the subtle blush of nervous Barry’s cheeks at the Pictures, Iris’s eye shadow matching the lower part of her dress… This is how all-ages superhero comics should look.
An extra burst of colour comes with Rob Leigh’s yellow on red internal narration boxes for Barry; the lettering looks great throughout, from the menacing title font onwards.
A cover by Dan Panosian repurposed from this story’s original appearance in Flash 100-Page Giant #1 complete a tremendous package – all this goodness for just 99p. DC, you are spoiling us.