It’s been awhile, but the Flash, Wally West, finally knows wife Linda has super-speed. What neither of them know is why.
A possible answer does present itself in this issue. But first, Wally has a read of the novel Linda is about to have published. It’s a romance, following its main character, Beth, in the first few years after university. She knows what she wants and has worked out how to get it.
That’s Rick. He’s dreamy, and soon they’re married. And soon they’re divorced, but meanwhile Beth’s taken the first steps towards her ultimate aim of being a novelist – which is how the young reporter is at the scene of a rather unusual event.
A porcupine monster! And so the romance wanders into fantasy territory, and veteran readers’ minds wander back to Wally’s first meeting with Linda, when he was going through a ‘porcupine man’ phase. Yep, not only is Beth a barely disguised Linda, but the story is inspired by the writer’s life. Which is fair enough, plenty of authors’ debut novels are based on their pasts. And Linda has certainly seen some things since she met Wally.
Regular Flash writer Jeremy Adams has fun finding ways to insert the likes of Captain Cold, Pied Piper, even Kilg%re into proceedings as Beth’s adventures get wilder and she learns that she’s been suffering from a life-limiting condition.
Control freakery. And so Beth puts the habit aside, as did her creator a long time ago. And just as Beth accepts that the best life leaves space for adventure, so Linda is intrigued by the apparent next stage of her own journey.
I didn’t see that coming. But could Linda’s recent super-speed be the result of her metabolism being affected by a growing metahuman? It didn’t happen with Jai and Irey because their births were a matter of ‘spontaneous conception via time travel’. All together now – comics! Actually, I suppose it makes in-universe sense that Linda’s body would adapt to cope with a fast foetus. My money is on the powers vanishing once the placenta is delivered.
One thing I’m left wondering – was Linda a divorcee before she met Wally? So much of Beth’s life mirrors Linda’s – is Adams sewing the seeds for an ex-husband storyline, or is he simply teasing us?
Adams’ script is typically fresh and frothy, with some cute moments between Wally, Linda and Kid Flash, Ace.
There also some great art, from Serg Acuña, really dynamic, attractive work. I’m not generally a fan of Manga styles, but despite their pointy, shaded noses, Linda and Wally are adorable, so joyfully expressive. Reimagined Wally West – Billy East – has a great Rocketeer-￼ish suit (shame about the Jungle Lord hair).
And because I am a Blogger of a Certain Age I look at things that younger folk may skip over. I give you…
…the Park-West settee! Just look at the indentation, the way Acuña shows the weight of the bodies, how it impacts the material. And notice how colourist Matt Herms represents the material with his tones.
Herms also adds an ageing effect to the ‘fictional’ pages, a stippling texture. It doesn’t make a lot of sense as while we’re seeing ‘Best Laid Plans’ as a comic book, Wally is reading it as a print product. Also, the book is brand new, not a vintage find. But what the heck, the weathering is a way to differentiate between Wally and Beth’s world, and it’s interesting to look at – so thank you Matt Herms for going the extra mile.
Justin Birch isn’t a name I recognise but he does a bang-up job with the letters, with the title page book cover treatment particularly nice.
Marguerite Sauvage provides the delightfully soppy cover – its not cheesy, it’s romantic!
At first glance, this seems like simply a solid, old-fashioned annual, a super-size adventure that’s fun, but skippable. But Best-Laid Plans not only addresses a mystery that’s run through the series for several months, it sets up the further expansion of the Flash Family and adds some mystery to Linda’s past. If you’re reading the regular monthly, you won’t regret buying this book.