It’s the long-awaited 775th anniversary issue!
What’s that, you say? You’ve never heard of such a thing? Well, 75 is a third of the way to a number ending in 00, it’s a giant-sized issue… it must be a special occasion. Who needs a cover blurb, I know a party when I see one? And Flash #775 is definitely a special occasion, with two special guest heroes, a favourite Rogue, a pack of villainous party crashers, a surprise Big Bad, and then a Bigger Badder!
The story starts with Superman trying to uproot the mysterious spear from space that’s crashed into the Tarmac of Keystone City
Superman’s not feeling zen, he’s sounding decidedly grumpy as he leaves for Metropolis. Mr Terrific – Wally’s new boss – is similarly surly, and as for Linda, when Wally pops home to see his wife…
And at the local branch of TerrificTech, where Wally is an engineer with a roaming remit.
There’s definitely something in the air. An alert tells Wally there’s trouble downtown and, like probably all readers, he’s assuming it’s something to do with the spear, more correctly termed a ‘glaive’. But before Wally can reach the spear he finds his boss would like a word.
OK, several words. Before Mr T can talk Wally to death, our hero uses his super-speed to knock the ‘mathlete’ out, only to have Trickster turn up in a bid to secure the spear. And he’s not the only miscreant to have received a subliminal message.
Wow! That’s quite the spread from artist penciller Fernando Pasarin, inker Matt Ryan and colourist Jeromy Cox. Writer Jeremy Adams has come up with yet another great adventure for Wally, who is refreshingly angst free – that would be the Speed Force business he mentioned – and at the top of his game. I’ve honestly never seen our Flash so confident and capable. Maybe it’s a plot point that will be followed up on, perhaps that’s just how good he is now, and the regular Rogues will have to raise their game. Probably, it’s just a bit of fun not to be overanalysed, and in a couple of months’ time Golden Glider or, god forbid, Goldface will be giving him a hard time. I’m fine with that, I’ve never been one for fixed Marvel Handbook-style power levels, sometimes a hero has a good day and they’re firing in all cylinders.
Wally, it seems, is having a very good day, being the only person, so far as we know, able to resist the lure of the spear. while still human enough to be caught off guard by the arrival of an obscure – but very powerful – Justice League enemy.
The script by Adams zips along at a suitable speed, with entertaining moments to spare. I’m especially intrigued by Mr T’s assessment of Wally’s potential, and happy to see that Wally doesn’t get too distracted by his boss’s mini-Ted Talk. Wally’s speed, and the nature of the Speed Force, has fluctuated so much over the years that there’s nothing to be gained by either worrying or getting overexcited; all that matters is what Wally can do today. And today, that’s a lot. Including employing his natural nous for matters mechanical to dampen down the angry aura of the sinister spear.
The artwork, you will have noticed, is stunning – the amount of detail Pasarin includes is ridiculous. Not only do we get get fully realised streets, and regular folk by the dozen, he even draws tiny, distinct workers in office buildings, and Matt Ryan inks them with splendid sharpness.
Just look at the expressions and body language! And so far as Pasarin’s Wally goes, there’s a nice Dave Gibbons vibe to him.
There’s just one problem with the visuals, and it’s a bit distracting.
The mask. Specifically, what’s with the covered nose? It looks deeply weird. One bystander mentions preferring Wally’s ‘old costume’ – I hope that doesn’t mean it’s a deliberate change, rather than a very forgivable boo-boo. If the rude man is referring to Wally’s current chest symbol, it is rather lacking an angle so far as lightning bolts go. Mind, I’m thrilled the New 52 panel fripperies are gone.
Talking of new looks, when the ultimate villain of the issue arrives, on a splash page doubtless intended to elicit an ‘oooh!’, I didn’t recognise them – their most distinctive feature is rendered in such a way that I didn’t notice it. Still, when their name was dropped, everything made sense.
And I’m not complaining about the art, this has to be one of the most gorgeous Flash stories ever – the amount of work put into it by Pasarin, Ryan and Cox is truly bonkers. So far as the colours are concerned, Cox never takes the easy way out, slapping a monotone across the back of a panel – nope, everything and everyone is delineated by tones.
Look at the way the pink glow from the panels reflects onto Wally’s gloves – that’s attention to detail.
Steve Wands complements the artwork with his font choices, emphasising the dialogue beats, and giving the final villain a terrifically creepy vocal style.
I love the extreme melodrama of the cover by illustrator Brandon Peterson and colourist Michael Atiyeh, with the hands of both the main bad guys in there. And that’s my Flash insignia!
The issue ends on a tease involving one of my favourite DC heroes – one who used to share the Flash book, in fact – so next issue should be as magical as this one.