It’s a special day for Wally West. He’s taking Irey to a Daddy-Daughter dance.
Before they arrive at the teeny speedster’s school, though, they have to negotiate an unusual traffic problem.
‘MUAHAHAHAH!’ Yes, this is not a man reluctant to lean into the villainous persona. His name is Dr Nightmare. Well, not really, but he’s buying into the idea, as he soliloquises helpfully.
The gang at TerrificTech, Wally’s new employers, can’t hear, they’ve been knocked out by the mad scientist’s special gas, along with several city blocks. Soon, the expected Daddy-Daughter dance becomes ‘take your daughter to work day’. And Irey shows that so far as being a hero is concerned, she’s a chip off the old block.
Many comics these days want to make Big Statements, addressing such things as trauma, race, gender politics, favourite pronouns… not Flash #774. This is an old-fashioned encounter between good end evil, with fun, fun, fun to the fore.
And it is delightful. We’ve not seen much of Irey for the last 15 years. Heck, she and brother Jai were actually deleted from continuity after their co-starring role in a previous Flash run didn’t go down well. But the twins are back, and while Jai takes a back seat here, Irie is a wee star. Writer Jeremy Adams crafts a beautifully believable relationship between Wally and Irey – the dialogue is a cut above that in most books – and I look forward to more West family dynamics.
And I look forward to more of Dr Nightmare. Sure, he seems like the classic one-off bad guy – cliched motivation, no fighting skill, House of Sivana lab coat. But look at what he can do – produce a neverending supply of night terrors, 24 hours a day! Also, he quotes Shakespeare in a very creepy manner. Tell me you don’t want to see him meet everyone in the DC Universe.
At the very least he makes for some great visuals, and artist Christian Duce is well up to the challenge. The creations get wilder as the issue goes on, climaxing with… well, I won’t spoil it. Duce gets extra points for his observation, the first sight of Irey in the issue is the perfect portrait of a bashful child.
He also captures her cheekiness and pluck, excellent qualities in a tween titan. Wally, too, looks excellent and, no kidding, I’m only now realising he doesn’t don his crimson costume once.
While there are amazing action moments aplenty, the best image of the issue is a distinctly calmer scene. Buy the book and look forward to the penultimate page. Your heart will melt.
The only quibble I have with the art is that Duce and colourist Hi-Fi don’t make Irey look like the product of her parents. Jai neither. Irey looks like she’s been grown directly from Wally’s cells, Jai from Linda’s. The twins don’t even share the same skintone.
Steve Wands handles the lettering and has fun when there’s a chance to do something outside the norm. I hear it’s his last issue, after being with the seres for years – we have been blessed! The cover by illustrator Brandon Peterson and colourist Michael Atiyeh is a grabber. Terribly misleading, but a grabber.
I’ve praised the last year of Flash a lot and the series thoroughly deserves it – under Adams, Peterson, Duce and colleagues, this has been a first-rate superhero book. And this is an especially terrific issue.