Well, that’s a gloomy cover from illustrator Brandon Peterson and colourist Michael Atiyeh, taking us back to the horror that was the Heroes in Crisis mini-series. Happily, the issue itself is a thoroughly jolly affair, as Wally West, at the mercy of the Speed Force, continues bouncing into the bodies of speedsters across time and space.
What’s actually going on is up for grabs – Barry Allen and Mr Terrific, back in Keystone City, have been trying to bring Wally home based on one hypothesis, but this month they decide they should be looking to another one. As Edna Mode would say, ‘whatever darling’. Something has Wally pinballing around, and at some point he’ll arrive home. The important thing is the fun along the way.
And there’s plenty here as Wally starts off in the body of Professor Zoom in a place analogous to the world of TV’s Super Friends. The Reverse-Flash is up for Legion of Doom membership.
Then it’s back to the Wild West to play Windrunner, the future Max Mercury; forward to 2021 and Kid Flash Wallace West, then Jesse Quick; and back to Barry Allen’s heyday for an encounter with the worst character in the history of the Flash, Mopee.
If you’ve never heard of this character, be thankful. Google him, if you really must.
We’re not shown details of Wally’s actions in each place and time; after a few issues of Jeremy Adams’ hugely entertaining storyline, we know how it goes – Speed Force energy leaps into someone, threatening to blow them up; Wally saves the day by absorbing the energy into himself, throwing him into another dimension. It’s enjoyable just to see the scenarios that confront Wally. The nearest I have to disappointment is the non-appearance of the Flash from the underrated Justice League 3000, something I was expecting on seeing that series’ artist, Howard Porter, in the credits. I’m not actually sure what Porter drew this time – which is weird as his style is usually very recognisable.
The meat of the issue comes when Wally is tossed into his own future, and the body of his son Jai. Waiting for him is Jai’s twin, Irey.
The conversation that follows is just lovely, characterised by a measured optimism. It’s great to see that a couple of decades from now Wally and wife Linda’s kids are OK, and that Wally will be too. We don’t hear whether Linda is still around, but I choose to assume she’s alive and well. We do get to see Irey’s future Flash costume, and it’s a stunner.
I think the artist here is Berat Pekmezci – that’s a process of elimination guess based on the artists’ whose style I do recognise – as this is a jam issue.
The mixing and matching of artists works well, giving each scene the proper mood. Pekmezci is the only name that’s new to me, but I like what I see – strong, clean character work and a near future that looks plausible rather than outlandish. Expect to see those holo-internet masks on a street near you any day now.
Other visual highlights include a further tease that veteran artist Bryan Hitch will soon be drawing a JSA series…
…and that Mopee moment which, I think, is pencilled by regular artist Brandon Peterson, with a vibe evoking the classic Brian Bolland run of Flash covers.
The whole book is coloured by Michael Atiyeh and lettered by Steve Wands, craftsmen at the top of their game, and edited by Bixie Mathieu and Mike Cotton, who need only have provided detailed credits to receive a perfect score. Artists deserve to have their contributions recognised, not treated like ingredients in a blender.
If the conclusion in the Flash Annual later this month is as great as the rest of this storyline has been, we’re in for a real treat. Heck, I strongly suspect a Heroes in Crisis storyline will turn out to be fun. Consider that…