Review The Flash#72-Year One Chapter Three

The Flash #72-Year One Chapter Three

Writer: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter

Color:HI-FI

We are already half way done with the 6-issue series of The Flash Year One saga. The retelling of Barry Allen’s origin story continues to unravel some aspects of the legend of the Flash that was born during the Silver Age of Comics. In the third chapter which is called the Rise of the Rouges, we see the young speedster take on the Turtle, the romantic relationship between him and Iris West develop, the prototype Flash costume, and the debut of a familiar villain from the Flash’s rogues gallery which doesn’t end well for Barry at the end of the comic.

Williamson’s writing continues to show the present-day Barry Allen develop into the hero that he will one day become. The scene where Barry takes on the Turtle shows the speedster alluding back to his childhood when he was bullied. It is in this scene that thanks to travelling to the future and meeting his olderself, Barry has chosen to once again cling on to hope like he did before his mother died. Despite Turtle rendering Barry powerless, it is with luck that Barry is able to phase through a brick wall and defeat the Turtle. The Central City Police Department arrests the villain and as a double victory, Barry and Iris begin to date.

Throughout the comic, we see Barry’s life become more balanced thanks to his speed. The comic book panels drawn and colored by HI-FI show the soon-to-be-Flash going out on dates with Iris, spending time with August Heart (the future Godspeed), visiting his father Henry Allen in prison, developing his costume further (which consists of a hoodie and red glasses), and being a hero by saving lives. The colors here used are have bolder but lighter hues which to me, evokes hope rather than the dreary colors of the dreaded future Barry ended up in.

It is not until after the scene where Iris visits Barry at his apartment, we get to the climax of the comic. After speaking with Iris about a criminal name Clive Yorkin (he was involved with the dead body during the investigation in Flash #70, Year One Chapter One). Barry investigates the case that involved Yorkin and John Banks (the dead man at the crime scene) and discovers that there is powder on Bank shoe. Barry suits up and rushes to the Central City Pharmaceuticals where he see’s  Yorkin and a group of criminals lead by one Leonard Snart, the future Captain Cold. Iris also witnesses Iris confronting Yorkin who threatens her. York pulls a gun on Iris to the point Barrry springs to action to use his speed save her from getting shot. But things go worse when the comic ends with Barry running away from the scene only to reveal that he took a bullet for Iris and is now near death at the end of the comic.

While I enjoyed the continuing story of Barry’s hero’s journey, I felt that the comic alone should have been more focused on how the Rogues came to be before showing the fight against Turtle. I am not saying that it should have had focused on all the Rogues necessarily but maybe it should have been centered around Leonard Snart and how be would eventually become Captain Cold. We only see several Captain Cold references with Snart, Yorkin, and the criminals wearing the blue glasses that Cold wears and that’s all we get.

Then again, this is The Flash Year One. However, I was hoping to see a little more about the Rogues than Barry in this one since the comic was title Rise of the Rouges. Then again, that’s just me. At least, we see the man who will one day become Captain Cold.

Overall, this was still a cool story which I give 3.8 Flash rings out of 5. The reason behind the 1.2 loss was it could have had made the comic a little Rogue centric before resuming Flash vs. Turtle. But again, that’s just me.

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Review: Batman-Last Knight on Earth

 

Alfred and Bruce's Cowl
Batman the Arkham Knight? Credit: DC Comics

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Greg Capullo

Inks: Jonathan Glapion

Color: FCO Plascencia

I have read several Batman stories that have some science fiction element to them. The first series I read was Grant Morrison’s Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne where the world’s greatest detective travels back through several time periods to return the present day while his memory is Swiss cheese (queue the Quantum Leap reference). Recently, Bruce had to battle alternate evil versions of himself from the Dark Multiverse in Dark Nights: Metal. Now I have to say that Scott Synder’s Batman: The Last Knight On Earth, which is under the DC Comics Black Label, has piqued my interest and might actually become one of my favorite Batman stories next to Synder’s other work, the Court of Owls.

After reading the preview, I knew that I had to purchase my own copy and read the first issue. And I have to say, the story is crazy good.

I do not want to spoil the story toO much but it is interesting how it starts off with a case where, as the narrator puts it, there is “no grandstanding villain, no corpse, no real victim at all.” This made the story very suspenseful to me because that was when I knew something was up and that Synder was going to set something up in a big way.

And it went from that case to Batman waking up as Arkham Asylum patient Bruce Wayne.  We also see that several of Batman villains including the Joker are doctors or personnel at Arkham. Joker is Dr. Redmund Hudd, Ras al Ghul is Agol, a gym coach, and Thomas Elliot/Hush is a librarian. We also see Harley Quinn, Penguin, Bane, and Two Face.  In this world, Alfred says that Batman is a “bloody stage drama” However, Bruce figures out that Alfred is a frail old man and that this reality is as a world created by Alfred with the help of Toyman.

Here, we learn that Alfred wanted to hide what happened in to the real world knowing that Bruce would go out of his own way to find out what happen and do something about it. Alfred tells Bruce that the world was basically destroyed. And we see several references including the toy T-Rex and Penny which alluded to the Batcave and the Batman cowl attached to the straight jacket.  And we cannot forget about Gotham’s finest, James Gordon and Harvey Bullock being police officers trying to take down the mental patient Bruce.

Then we go to the scene were Bruce and Joker (without his body) stumble upon Wonder Woman and her band of Amazons which consist of Supergirl, Poison Ivy, Vixen, and Wonder Girl. Here, we and Bruce learn what caused the world to go to hell and who caused it. Omega is the new big bad who, according to Wonder Woman, is a former disciple of Bruce’s and has the anti-life equation. We only see a silhouette of the guy holding what looks to be Darkseid’s head.

One of my favorite scenes had to be Batman finding Joker’s head in a jar. What came to my mind in that scene was the Tom Hanks movie Castaway. In that movie, Hanks character is stranded on an island after a plain crash and he finds a Wilson volleyball he names “Wilson.” So, Joker’s head is basically Wilson but he talks and annoys Batman. What’s even funny is that Vixen and Poison Ivy don’t seem too phased by a talking Joker head.

The art done by Greg Capullo was very sharp and detailed. I have always enjoyed seeing Capullo’s art since it brings out more defined and bolder features of the characters especially Batman and Wonder Woman.The colors done by FCO Plascencia also compliment Capullo’s art and do a better job at giving the story meaning. My favorite panel would have to be when Alfred’s true appearance is revealed. To me, this symbolizes the years of struggle Alfred endured while joining Bruce on his war against crime.

The only thing that got me scratching my head was the narrator. I was wondering if it was Alfred doing the narration or perhaps if it was the Joker. The first and last pages of the story kind of threw me off a little in that regard. I don’t know…that’s just me. Or maybe that is Synder’s aim. To throw us, the constant readers, off the scent. Who is the the narrator? Alfred? Joker? Or, is it Omega?

And just who is Omega? We know that he was once a disciple of Bruce. But who is he or she? Dick Grayson? Jason Todd? Tim Drake? Stephanie Brown? Damian Wayne? Jean Paul Valley? Or even Alfred? Only time and the next two issues are going to answer those questions.

I am looking forward to the next issues. This book is definitely going to be one of my big reads this summer.

What do you constant readers think of the first issue of Last Knight on Earth? Please feel free to share a comment and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

Fun at Phoenix Fan Fusion

I hope that all of you are had an awesome Memorial Day weekend. I am grateful for all the sacrifices the brave men and women made to preserve our freedoms. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here and I can say that I probably would not be doing what I am doing right now: writing this blog.

Speaking of Memorial Day, the week before Memorial Day is always a favorite time for me because every year, I attend Phoenix Fan Fusion in Phoenix, AZ. Fan Fusion is Phoenix’s very own comic book and pop culture event and this year it was from May 23th to 26th. Like the San Diego Comic Con and like any convention, it has its vendors, panels, and guests. Two years straight, I only went to the event every Sunday however, I decided to go all four days and I have to say that it was uber fun.

On the very first day, I went to a writer’s workshop which involved science fiction. The workshop delved into how science fiction was not really far off from our reality. Certain topics discussed involved the physics behind Iron Man or the multiverse.

Next, I went to a panel called “So You Want To Know Comics?” This was a very interesting panel since it was hosted by two owners of Cab Comics in Flagstaff, AZ. In the panel, they talked about finding the hidden gems when reading various comic books. I have also learned about how some comics can be ordered trough the store using an app called Comicshub (might use it someday since there are several back issues I would like to order). We also talked about the revamped origin stories of superheroes as well as character development in comics. The biggest takeaway from that panel was the passion that comes with reading comics.

Day two of Fan Fusion got even more amazing and it took me back to my childhood. While standing in line to get an autograph from Amy Jo Johnson, Kimberly, the original Pink Power Ranger, I was once again six or seven years old and I realized that I had forgotten how much of a crush I had on her. She was and still is pretty to this day.  Amy Jo Johnson was really sweet and friendly especially when I told her that she was the one and the only Pink Power Ranger. Throughout that whole time, I was nervous but I pulled through and got the autograph.

Before that, I went to an awesome writer’s workshop that was hosted by Bryan Young, a freelance writer from Utah. Young has written for starwars.com and the Star Wars Insider magazine. This was a really awesome  panel for me because as an aspiring freelance writer, I had gotten a lot of awesome advice. Young had encouraged me to keep at my writing by hustling and forming relationships with editors, audiences, and fellow writers. I had also learned how to pitch ideas to editors in a professional manner.

On the third day of the event, it was just as amazing but it also was a day that really struck a cord. I say this because it was another day that took me back to my childhood since it involved Ray Park, the guy who played Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (I will write an additional article on this awesome experience). To cut the long story short, I went to go get his autograph and when I was next, we just had a conversation about Star Wars and the Solo movie. But then it somehow got to exercising. He told me that he had hit a slump after getting injured but decided to get back in shape and that ever since, it has helped him. I told him that I had some trouble accepting the fact that I’m thin and that people at my work made comments about my body. Park looked at me and told me that what people said about my body did not matter and that I looked like I was in good shape. Even a fellow fan commented that I looked great and not to take what people said about my body personally. That moment, I felt my self esteem and confidence skyrocket. Here was Darth Maul giving me a pep talk like Mikey Goldmill to Rocky Balboa. Park also gave me advice on how to exercise and that it was not about being buff. That was a really cool experience and one that I hope to tell my children and grandchildren about. 

On that same day, I purchased a hardcover copy of Batman vs Deathstoke graphic novel which was written by Christopher Priest. Priest was also at the event and had a little chat with him. He was hilariously talked about how he came about writing the story that involved a custody battle between Batman and Deathstroke over Damian Wayne. Priest was awesome to talk to and autographed my copy.

The next two days were devoted to going to more panels and going on a shopping haul. I bought eight funko pops, one of them being a Daryl Dixon (from Walking Dead) on his motorcycle bike. I also purchased a Walking Dead statue of Negan which I was surprised no one snagged.  I also bought a Star Wars Black Series action figure of Boba Fett and a Pikachu phone charged. Furthermore, I purchased the entire Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness comic series and Frank Millers Dark Knight Part Two.

I also connected with a comic shop in Glendale Az, called Drawn to Comics which has a cool podcast. I told them about the Podcast from Earth-2 which me and a group of friend collaborate on and they said that they would give it a listen. I hope to work with Drawn to Comics in the future or do something awesome involving our podcasts.

This year’s Phoenix Fan Fusion was really fun and I am looking forward to attending next year. Who knows how might come to the event or what panels would be scheduled. All I know is that I am looking forward to having another awesome experience like I did this year.

Are there any special or awesome moments you had at any of the comic or pop culture conventions you went to? Please feel free to leave a comment and don’t forget to hit the like button and subscribe if you like this article.  🙂

Review: The Flash#71-The Flash of Two Timelines

Writer: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter

Artist: Hi-Fi

Cover: Hi-Fi and Howard Porter

Just imagine ending up in a dystopian future in which your home town is being run by a lunatic naming himself after an animal. Also imagine coming face to face with a more older and grizzled version of yourself. In The Flash #71, the continuation of the Flash: Year One storyline, the young speedster Barry Allen does just that.

Warning: There are spoilers. If you haven’t read The Flash #71, I advise you to not read the review. Otherwise, lets read on, shall we?

The issue begins with Barry thinking back to the night his mother was killed while he was a kid. He mentions having nightmares of a future without his mother but, the future that he (pun intended) ran into was far worse. Barry meets his older self who we learn is into hiding from the Turtle who siphons speed from the living. We also learn from older Barry that the Turtle wants his speed.

As opposed to the last issue, both we and young Barry see that older Barry is actually hopeful despite the situation in Central City. When young Barry is on the run with future Barry from the Turtle’s men, the latter reprimands his younger counterpart for being pessimistic and advising him that he has to move forward. Older Barry also reminisces about being a superhero and his adventures alongside other heroes. However, older Barry is very careful not to divulge about present Barry’s future. But he does something to confirm which timeline present Barry is from.

Future Barry quizzes young Barry about the many people in his life: Iris West, Wally West, Wallace West, and his mother. It is the question about his mother that gets present Barry piqued. Barry tries to ask his future-self who killed his mother (Anyone who knows or follows the Flash knows this answer) but Future Barry is quick to pull a River Song and does not want to give out spoilers. While on the run from the Turtle and his followers, future Barry admonishes Barry about the dangers of time travel. The two come across the Cosmic Treadmill which Future Barry says that will help present Barry get back to his own time. As the Turtle’s men close in on the two speedsters, Future Barry urges present Barry to ran back in time and that if Iris ever asks, Barry should “say yes, dammit.” Older Barry gets restrained by Turtles cronies as present Barry runs in the treadmill and returns to the present time.

After returning to the present, Barry, feeling spooked by his experience, vows to never use his speed and goes back to living life as normal as he can. However, he tries to come up with a way to create the Cosmic Treadmill and even his own Flash costume. He also cannot help but feel nervous but his nerves are calmed when he thinks of his date with Iris. As he is about to meet Iris, Barry sees Central City Police officers taking on the present day Turtle. After seeing Iris run into danger and without thinking, Barry runs to save her and decides to take on Turtle while wearing his prototype Flash suit.

I enjoyed the writing that Williamson and Porter brought to this issue. I liked that in the beginning of the story, they compared Barry’s fear of a future without his mother to the dark future he found himself in. In addition, I felt that the storytellers made Old Man Flash as hopeful and positive as pre-adolescent Barry despite that he was “maybe a few years closer to the finish line.” An example of this is when the older Barry grumbles about how pessimistic his younger self is after the former laments on failing.  Another example of this is when future Barry tells his younger-self that the life he has will become awesome.

This writing showed that Barry was learning not only that he will become the Flash but that he will be that same Barry Allen he was before his mother’s death. We see a slow but gradual transition from a jaded man to a hero. And I also feel that we see the beginning of Barry becoming who he is meant to be when he decides to take a stand against Turtle.

Speaking of the Turtle, the villain is a lot like his Pre-Crisis counterpart where he siphons speed for anyone. I don’t know if Williamson and Porter channeled the Mummy movies but the scene where Turtle sucks the speed out of the victim reminds me of how Arnold Vosloo’s Imhotep would suck the life out of his victims and leave them as husks. The writers wrote the Turtle, originally a villain who used slowness as a strategy to combat the Flash, as a power and speed hungry tyrant who was not one to be messed with.  After all, lets not forget the newspaper clipping mentioning that Barry lost Central City and even future Barry admitting his defeat.

The art done by Hi-Fi and Porter in this story was detailed and went along with the story. In a splash page, we see the meeting of the two Barrys in the middle of Turtle conquered Central City. In ths splash, we see a dystopian version of Barry’s hometown full of Turtle’s men and flags bearing the Turtle’s symbol. This Central City has more of a eerie green color that represents Turtle’s iron grip. The present-day Central City is bright and hopeful and pre-adolescent Barry Allen and the Flash as we know him to be.

Another cool thing about the art was how the artists used the colors to adorn the abilities of both Flashes and Turtle. The colors red and yellow were obviously used for both Barrys as they ran. However, future Barry had a darker red which I felt symbolized his Speed Force mastery whereas younger Barry’s red is slightly lighter . The scenes where Turtle sucks the speed out of a victim showed the victim turning into a white dried up husk while Turtle’s powers are bright green light orbs that emit out of him.

While this story was awesome, I felt that we should have spent more time with Old Man Barry. What was his story? We obviously know that he was the Flash but was he from a different time line? It would have been cool to see more of how he lives hiding from the Turtle. And what about Iris? Is she in this future? Perhaps we might have some if not all of those questions answered.

Overall, I enjoyed the scenes with the two Barrys and I am looking forward to issue #72 as present day Barry Allen or Proto-Flash takes on the Turtle.

 

Rating 4.1/5

Flash #71
Barry Allen Credit:DC Comics

Review: Age of Rebellion: Han Solo – Running from the Rebellion

Writer: Greg Pak

Artist: Chris Sprouse

Inks: Karl Story

Color: Tamra Bonvillain

Han Solo has been my favorite Star Wars character since I was 10 years old. My first Star Wars action figure was a Han Solo with a Jabba the Hutt figure that my dad bought me. Right now, I have a Han Solo action figure  in Hoth gear sitting on my shelf at my office.  Years ago, my mom and sister bought me several Han Solo books for Christmas and I bought a Han Solo comic. And a year ago, I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story which I thought was a really cool film (unpopular opinion to some fans). Han Solo is basically in my Mount Rushmore of favorite superheroes next to Batman, Superman, Captain America, and Robin (Damian Wayne).  So, it is no surprise to myself that I bought the Han Solo Age of Rebellion comic. Because I am a fan and I wanted to see the Star Wars Universe through the eyes of our favorite smuggler once more. And in this issue of Age of Rebellion, we get just that.

The story starts of almost immediately after the Battle of Yavin where Han and Chewbacca are counting the money the 17,000 credits they have earned. Han tells Chewie that they could pay off Jabba and make much needed repairs to the Millennium Falcon.

Before any plans could be made, Han and Chewie’s plans are cut short when the farmboy turned Rebel Alliance hero Luke Skywalker asks Han for a favor to smuggle goods to a planet that the Rebel Alliance is using as an outpost. Han, as always, is reluctant but eventually goes along with the request after much convincing from Chewie.

During this time, Solo runs into a group of old smuggling friends after breaking up a fight between them and a group of Rebel soldiers. The smugglers poke fun at Solo for being a Rebel much to his ire.

However, Akko, Han’s old friend, offers to do a smuggling job to get some money on another planet. Han accepts but things go south when one of the smugglers inadvertently gets the attention of an Imperial patrol.

Fortunately, Han saves his friends from the Imperials by emptying his ship of everything including the supplies and money. Han and Akko’s group part on good terms and Han returns to the place where he dropped the Rebel supplies. Han thanks the planet’s locals for looking out for the supplies but they want Han’s credits in return which the smuggler reluctantly relinquishes. It is here we find out why Han was not able to pay back his debt to Jabba the Hutt. Han Solo AOR

At the end of the comic, Han delivers the supplies to the Rebels on the outpost planet. The Rebels thank Han and call him a hero. Despite Han reminding the Rebels that he is not one of them, they ask the Corellian yet for another favor. And as a result, Han takes on another job while verbally declaring that it would be the last time he does any favors for the Rebel Alliance.

Greg Pak does an awesome job of writing Han Solo as this reluctant member of the Rebel Alliance to Restore the Republic. I think a better term for Han Solo in this comic would be a Rebel-by-accident. After all, he was pulled into a fight against an evil Empire by a certain old hermit and a blonde haired farmboy. I also liked how Pak brilliantly writes Han hilariously denying that he is a Rebel to Rebels and smugglers alike. I feel that Pak took shades of both the Harrison Ford and Alden Eherenreich versions of Han Solo as he wrote this issue. We see the far more cynical Han Solo portrayed by Harrison Ford when he argues with Chewie and denies his Rebel affiliation. But we also see Alden Ehrenreich’s Solo when Han retrieves the Rebel supplies and willingly delivers them to the Rebels. The scene where Solo meets the Rebels on Calumdarian, the outpost planet, reminded me of the scene where young Han gives the coaxium to Enfys Nest. In both scenes, Han is seen as having a heart despite his gruff and cynical exterior.

I also thought the art and coloring done by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and Tamra Bonvillain was great. They drew Han Solo exactly like he was in A New Hope along with the rest of the characters. The colors done by Sprouse gave this story a Western feel with almost all the scenes having a sunset or dusk setting. The shade tells me that something shrewd is about to go down and knowing Han Solo, he is all about being shrewd. We even see this in the ending scene with the relieved Rebels. Han just goes back to what he has always been doing: smuggling while being a reluctant Rebel as he flies the Falcon though the crimson and dusky skies of Calumdarian.

Having said all of this, the only thing I would have liked to see in this comic was Han’s interaction with Princess Leia. Whenever Han and Leia argue, there is always bound to be fireworks or at least shots fired. Leia was only referenced by Han as asking him for a favor for a job. I felt that Leia would have been likely the one to grab Han’s ear to get him to do a job for the Rebellion rather than just Luke alone because, even if Han didn’t want to admit it, Leia was one of the reasons why he stayed with the Rebellion. Luke was a reason but it was that princess from Alderaan that slowly made Han forget about paying Jabba for the moment and help the Rebels anyway he could.

Or another suggestion would have been to have almost all the characters from Leia to C-3PO or General Jan Dodonna asking Han for favors much to the annoyance of our friendly neighborhood smuggler. That would have made this comic even more awesome and would have exposed Han’s true character through his gruff exterior.

Otherwise, I enjoyed this story. Even if you’re not a Han Solo fan, you cannot help but see how Han starts to grow from cynical smuggler to hero of the Rebel Alliance. Any you know…it’s Han Solo.

 

Rating: 4.3/5

Review: The Flash #70-The Flash Year One

 

 

The Flash#70-Year One-Chapter One: He Will Be the Fastest Man Alive

Writer: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter

Colorist: Hi-Fi

Cover: Porter & Hi-Fi

The 70th issue of “The Flash” is the start of the Flash: Year One arc. The issue presents a spin on the origin story of Barry Allen becoming the Fastest Man Alive. Like in the original origin story, Barry does get his powers by getting struck by lightning while doused with chemicals from his forensic laboratory. In addition to that however, we see several events that surround that fateful night. Constant readers be warned, if you have not read this issue of “The Flash,” I encourage you to go read the issue before reading this review. Otherwise, lets delve into Flash: Year One.

One thing that I like about the comic is how Barry’s mother Nora Allen serves as an inspiration to Barry from his childhood to adulthood. We see this in the first scene where he is reading the Flash comics with his mother in the dark attic during a stormy night. The comic also reminds us that it was the death of his mother that spurred Barry to studying forensic science so that he could exonerate his father Henry Allen who was framed for the murder.  And we also see Barry reminiscing about his mother telling him to keep on trying despite his setbacks when testing out his newfound connection to the Speed Force.

Another thing I liked about the comic is how it presents three versions of Barry Allen.

As a kid, Barry is seen as an idealistic boy who is hopeful despite adversity. This is apparent when he shows his mother the black eye that he received after defending a group of his classmates from a bully at school. Young Barry is also inspired from reading his mother’s old comics which are based on the Jay Garrick Flash. It is here where we see a glimpse of the Flash being a more hopeful hero despite the trials and tribulations he has to go through.

However, the second version of Barry Allen, the present-day Barry, is grown up but he is more hyper-focused and jaded due to witnessing his mother’s death and the growing crime in Central City. This is the Barry before he gets hit by lighting. We learn that the night in the attic was Barry’s last moment with his mother before she was murdered. This Barry is a CSI (Crime Scene Investigator) for the Central City Police Department who is too obsessed with work to pay attention to the reporter and his future love interest Iris West despite encouragement from friend and the future Godspeed, August Heart. Additionally, there is a poignant scene where Barry bumps into a man and his family. After Barry apologizes to the man, the latter forgives him and tells his wife and children that “we shouldn’t be out in the streets after dark anyway. But y’know what? The sun will come out tomorrow.” It is with this quote that makes Barry wish that he had the man’s optimism but after all that he has experienced in his life including the rising crime in Central City, he cannot help but remain jaded.

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The third version of Barry we see is a future version of Barry past his prime and a grizzled and hardened hero. This Barry Allen is obviously the Flash but he is living in a future Central City ruled by the Turtle. In this Central City, the Turtle is a self-proclaimed tyrannical king and the future version of Barry may be a freedom fighter or someone in hiding. There is also a newspaper clipping that present Barry sees which reads that the Flash had lost Central City.  Future Barry seems more jaded and angrier than present day Barry due to him losing Central City. This is apparent when he reprimands present Barry for time traveling forward in time.

The origin story shows an awesome scene of Barry getting struck by lightning and getting thrown back toward the chemicals used in his laboratory. In the first scene, the ominous-looking lightning is shown while young Barry is looking out at the window in the attic. We also see the lightning when Barry is headed back to his lab after working on a crime scene with Heart. To me, those scenes tell me that the lightning was wanting to strike Barry and it was waiting for the right moment to do so. There are also several Flash stories that allude to Barry himself being the very lightning that strikes him.

There are some panels that show Barry being in a coma for months and eventually waking up from the coma and testing out his powers. In those scenes, he treats his body like a crime scene by using his skills as a forensic scientist to make sense of his new found powers. There are panels that hilariously show an accumulation of Barry’s worn out running shoes before acquiring yellow boots meant for fire fighters (given to the Central City Fire Department by Wayne-Tech).  The yellow boots will become part of the Flash’s iconic crimson suit. There are other scenes that show Barry eating huge amounts of food due to his metabolism and training himself to use different abilities with his speed.

The graphic narrative done by Howard Porter and HI-FI matches up with story written by Williamson. Going back to the attic scene, the sky was a crimson color similar to the Flash’s suit. The art expressed in this scene makes the lightning look omnipotently fateful. The art projects Barry’s ascension to the Flash as an omen. I also felt that Williamson and HI-FI ripped a page out of orginal Flash creator Carmine Infantino’s book on how to draw the Flash. I learned from a documentary that Infantino drew the Flash with a two-dimensional delineation of speed. We see this in several scenes where Barry starts running when waking from a coma and when learning how to harness his connection to the Speed Force.

This was a cool start to the Year One arc and I am looking forward to reading the next chapter which is titled:” The Man Who Broke the Time Barrier!”

If you have any thoughts about “The Flash” #70 or the review, please feel free to comment. And if you like this review or my blog, don’t forget to subscribe to the Boy Wonder Press on WordPress. You can also follow me on Twitter @Boywonderpress.

Lio Rush: Is He a Hero or a Villain?

In addition to following the world of comics and popular culture, I also follow the world of professional wrestling. I watch a lot of WWE, some of Impact Wrestling and some of the Indies. I am looking forward to seeing All Elite Wrestling. Overall, I enjoy pro-wrestling and have done so ever since I was 11-years old.

And since I am a wrestling fan, there is one story that has caught my interest and one that I felt I needed to write about. The story involves a wrestler name Lio Rush, who was viewed by many in the wrestling community to be a prodigy and a WWE hopeful with a promising future. At 22-years old, Rush was signed to a full-time WWE contract on July 2017.

However, as Rush transitioned into the WWE, his troubles began. Around October 2017, tweeted a joke on his Twitter account about Tennile Dashwood (formerly known as Emma) getting fired from the WWE because she was not ready for Asuka. The tweet ended with a clown emoji which got several WWE wrestlers incensed. Many wrestlers called Rush out on social media for his conduct and the newcomer quickly apologize but the damage had been done. Lio Rush had a black spot in his WWE career that would follow him up to this day.

Despite being called up to the 205 Live roster and becoming the mouthpiece to the quiet and Bobby Lashley, Rush’s troubles did not end after that infamous tweet he posted.

Rush was reported to have rubbed people in a narcissistic manner. Several reports viewed Rush in an arrogant light by saying that he and his wife were going to have a reality show about their lives on the road and that he was this huge megastar. Other reports had shown Rush being argumentative with wrestlers like Finn Balor who reportedly tried to advised him on the ramifications of bringing loved ones to WWE meetings. One report even went into detail how he disrespected WWE veterans by not doing the tasks asked of him as a junior member of the roster; such tasks range from offering veterans water after a match or helping to set up the WWE rings. As a result, Rush was apparently blacklisted from appearing on Raw this past Monday or future shows going forward. Not so surprising, the segment between The Miz and Bobby Lashley had no mention of Lio Rush.

One thing is clear from all this, Rush’s career with the WWE  seems to be in serious jeopardy.

But is it really? It depends on who you really ask. After all, the only people who could answer that question is the WWE brass and Lio Rush himself. The real question here since it involves Lio Rush, both the man and wrestler, is is he a hero or a villain?

Here’s my answer that only as a fan I can give: in some respects, he is a hero…in other respects, he is a villain.

First off, here’s why I say that Lio Rush is a hero.

The intrepid Lio Rush has been seen in various independent promotions showcasing his repertoire of wrestling skills and breathtaking stunts. To me, the young star is the epitome of the American Dream having to come from very little only to work hard and make a name for himself in something that some portray as choreographed fighting. As Rush showcased his amazing talent in Maryland Championship Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling and Ring of Honor, the WWE began to take notice and eventually hired the young talent. In my view, Lio Rush stuck to his goal of wanting to be a WWE superstar and made it. In the WWE, he had stellar matches against his real life buddy, Patrick Clark better known as the flamboyant Velveteen Dream. Things were looking promising until the Emma-Asuka tweet came out and that was when I began to see a more cocky and sinister side to Rush which brings me to my second argument of why I view him as a villain.

Knowing that the WWE has rules and procedures on how to go about things, Rush should have known better than to break those rules. As stringent as they are, there is a reason behind those rules. WWE is a publicly owned company known world wide. They have a brand. If anyone were to get out of line, it would be a mark on the WWE. And if the reports of Rush’s behavior are true, it would mean big trouble for not only Rush but Vince McMahon’s empire. Let’s play devil’s advocate and let’s say that Lio Rush does become a big megastar that he had foreseen. Rush is maybe a four time WWE Champion or Universal Champion. One day, the news breaks of him doing something that could damage not only his reputation but ruin the WWE’s image which is now considered a family friendly product.

How would that look to a billion dollar company? Just ask Bill DeMont, formerly Hugh Morris, who was once a former wrestler and trainer in the WWE Performance Center. News of his bullying his trainees got so viral that he had to resign in fear of casting WWE in a bad light. Or what about Eric Arndt better known as Enzo Amore? Amore, known for being a menace backstage was eventually fired for allegedly sexually assaulting a young woman battling mental health issues. Or how about Hulk Hogan? The legendary wrestler was recorded muttering the N-word to the point where the WWE had no choice but to fire him. A year ago, Hogan has been reinstated back into the WWE Hall of Fame and appeared on some WWE shows with strong applause.

With these examples, it is no wonder that WWE is always so quick to put out a small fire before it gets big. Rush’s behavior, regardless of his position in the company, is a liability and this is what would make him a villain in the eyes of his fellow wrestlers, the WWE brass, and the WWE Universe.

In conclusion, I am no fan of Lio Rush but I don’t want him to fail either. If what is being said in the news wires is true, then Rush has two choices he can make. In my opinion, he should quit the WWE and go back to the Indies where he probably would feel more comfortable and less restricted. Or he can get his act together and learn to follow the WWE’s rules and policies. Mike “The Miz” Mizanin was in a similar predicament and he decided to get his act together. Today, he is one of the WWE’s biggest stars and more respected in the locker room than he was when he started out.

As for the fans, I would not be so quick to say awful things about someone we do not know personally. For all we know, Lio Rush could have went through something in his childhood or some period in his life to act the way he does. I understand that there is no excuse for bad behavior but, their should also be some understanding. I feel that if someone were to understand Rush, that person could get him the help that he needs. Maybe that person was Finn Balor or maybe it might be someone outside the wrestling business.

Finn-Balor-Lio-Rush
Lio Rush taking on Finn Balor. Credit: WWE

Either way, to see someone fail in what they love or have a passion for is heart breaking. I’ve been there and it is not a good feeling.  This essay is not aimed at knocking down Rush but it is just a fan’s understanding of how conducting yourself a certain way can predicate certain reactions from peers. In short, Rush is not an evil person. He may need to meditate on what is working for him and what he can improve on. I think we as the WWE Universe of pro-wrestling fans owe him that.

What are your thoughts? Please comment on what you think about the whole situation and remember constant readers, stay ever so awesome.

My Review of “The Car” and how the Action Comics#1000 Story Appealed to Me

Almost any comic book junkie or Superman fan would know about the famous cover to the 1938 Action Comics #1. The cover shows Superman holding a green car over his shoulders and crashing it into a boulder while three guys are looking on and freaking out. And one of those guys is the center of the short story, “The Car.”

“The Car” was written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner and illustrated by Oliver Coipel. Johns is known for his run on the Green Lantern series as well as Blackest Night and Brightest Day. Richard Donner is known for directing the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. When I purchased the comic, I had read several cool stories but this particular story had a profound effect on me.

The short comic book story takes place at a 1930’s era auto body shop right after the events of the Action Comics #1 cover. The green car is a total wreck from the front and the first page shows two mechanics examining it. One of them asks what happened to the car and the other mechanic replies that he would have to ask the owner.

It is in this scene where we are introduced to the main character of the story and one of the guys on the cover of Action Comics #1. The man’s name is Butch. The mechanic asks Butch if an elephant hit his car and there is a flashback scene of Butch and his cronies in the car with a kidnapped Lois Lane running into Superman. Butch replies:

“A man wearing red underwear.”

He then also tells the mechanic that the man in the red underwear hung him on a telephone pole. With its art, the story does a great job at showing how he mechanic is in disbelief at Butch’s claim. The mechanic smirks and implies that Butch has had too much to drink and advises him that he will have the repairs to his car quoted. He also advised that if it were up to him and given the state that the car is in, he would junk the car. Butch asks for a ride home but the mechanic rhetorically asks him if his place looks like a taxi service.

In the next scene, the comic panel shows Butch walking alone in the middle the junkyard outside the shop. This scene is a homage to the quote: “look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” When Butch looks up, at first thinks he sees a bird and then a plane only to see Superman ascending above him.

“It’s you,” he responds.

Superman calls the man by his name and chastises that he is a criminal who “gets away with just about everything” and “pushes the little guy around” and “dancing with whichever girl he picks out in a crowd.” Superman also notes to Butch that some people would that he “deserved to be back on that telephone pole. Or something higher.”

But Superman also informs Butch that he did some research on him and tells him that he knows that his father had died in World War I and that he had to look after his ailing mother. Superman also informs Butch that he knows that he became an orphan after his mother passed away. It is this scene that makes this story get interesting.

It is her that we see that Superman, being an orphan himself after his parents died on the doomed planet of Krypton, could relate to Butch.

Butch tells Superman that he was 13-years old when his mother died and whenever it got hot, he and the orphans had always wanted to go swimming but couldn’t due to having no pool.

The Man of Steel advises Butch to be a better person and advises that despite having “had your fair share of knocks” and “knocking the world back like you’ve done” he could make a decision. Superman encourages Butch to “be that person who wasn’t there for you for someone else.” And in poetic fashion, Superman gives Butch one piece of sage advise:

“It’s your life Butch, you can fix it…or you can junk it.”

Superman flies away from Butch and tells him that he would see him around.  After Superman flies away, we see Butch letting Superman’s wisdom marinate in his head. In the very last panel, we see a smiling and peaceful Butch, next to the newly repaired green car, opening up a fire hydrant for children who want to go swimming but can’t due to having no pool.

To me, Butch’s life was just like the green car that Superman crashed onto the boulder after rescuing Lois from the criminal and his cronies. The car was heavily damaged to the point where the mechanic advised to junk it since repairs on it would be expensive.

I talked to my sister about this scene and the year it took place and she noted that Butch must have had it tough getting by especially since he was living around the time of the Great Depression which had affected the lives of many Americans, especially those living in the Midwest.

Superman could have let Butch hang on the telephone pole but the Man of Steel knew Butch had a choice to change his life for the better or…like the car, he could just junk it since the cost would be too heavy. But the former criminal turned his life around and it can be assumed that after his encounter with Superman, he devoted his life to helping orphaned children and maybe even adopted one himself.  After all, Superman did advise Butch to “be that person who wasn’t there for you”, presumably a father or father-like figure, “for someone else.” Mind you, this probably didn’t happen overnight.

This story really appealed to me because Johns and Donner do an awesome job at writing how we are all like Butch. We feel that to get by in life, our adversity gives us the permission to act, or not act, and we ultimately pay the price. We have a Superman who would grab our cars and crash them into boulders and we are left with the choice to make our lives for the better or for the worse. I would be lying to you if I said that I did not have moments where I was Butch.

One notable Butch moment came when I was going through one of the hardest years at the University of California, Riverside. It was in a Journalism classes during the winter and spring quarters and I was struggling.  I felt that the 2008-09 school year  was plagued  with personal issues and with criticism of my writing when people were actually trying to help me. The not-so-sweet cherry on top was when a girl I had a crush on was dating another guy and even worse, she invited me to hang out with him, his cousin and her at the 2009 UCR Heat Block Party.

During Spring Semester, I was at my lowest and I spoke to my journalism professor who put me on blast for not doing my readings and that I often raised my hand too much instead of just listening to the lecture. My heart sank when she implied that she knew I was slacking off because she commented earlier that I was a smart guy and my writing had been improving the previous quarter. Like Superman, she grabbed my green car and rammed it into a boulder. And like Butch, I had a choice to either do better or continue to do worse.

I told my professor what I had been going through and she sat across from me and listened. I told her about my personal issues that were gnawing at me and about the girl I had a crush on. My professor smiled and advised me that to let the girl go and that she was not worth my time. She also advised me to listen more and to seek counselling. I think she also implied that she wanted me to be the writer I wanted to be instead of being the dude trying to prove to the world that he was a smart guy by raising his hand all the time. As a result, I rebounded and did good in the class which in turn helped me with my writing and adopt a more descriptive writing style.

That  day with my professor is one of the days that I cherish because, it taught me how to be more committed to my goals and less prideful and it also garnered an admiration for my professor. And when it came to the girl I had a crush on, I had finally accepted the fact that she was not interested in me and let her go after trying to work it out.

I know that the day is going to come where I run into a Butch who is only trying to get by in this world. And like my journalism professor and Superman, I am going to have grab that Butch’s green car and smash it into a boulder and advise him or her that he or she had a choice to make life for better or for worse. We all experience those moments whether from the point-of-view of a Butch or a Superman.

If there is anything that “The Car” taught me, it is that when it comes to our lives, we always have a choice to “fix it…or you can junk it.”

Life Is Like the Kessel Run

solo-chewbacca-lando-beckett-qira-han-falcon-cockpit
Photo Credit: Disney & Lucasfilm Ltd.

As I sit down and write this, I began looking back at the good times and the bad times in my almost 32-years of existence. I have come to realize that I am not perfect nor invincible. I am neither almighty or immortal. I’m an proud idiot who loves comic books and science fiction, and pro-wrestling. I enjoy writing, blogging or podcasting about those genres. And you know what? I’m damn proud of it. You read that right. And it if wasn’t for my admiration for those things, I don’t think I would piece together how the the world works.

When it comes to my life and all of what I just mentioned above, I think of the Kessel Run. I write this because when I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story, I was once again that 10-year old boy who wanted to be Han Solo. I didn’t want to be Luke Skywalker. I wanted to be Han Solo. I wanted to have the Millennium Falcon as my own ship. I wanted Princess Leia to be my girlfriend. I wanted to be a general of the Rebel Alliance. Hell, I wanted to be frozen in carbonite. I wanted to tell people at the right damn moment to ‘never to me the odds.’ Say what you want but, that movie brought those desires back.

When I saw that scene of Han flying the Falcon right into the an uncharted path in the Kessel Run with TIE Fighters chasing him. There was debris that could have gotten Han and his friends killed. Or even worse. The Falcon could have been blown up in a giant ball of Coaxium. But with faith in himself and his pilot abilities, Solo beat the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. It wasn’t like the Corellian woke up one morning with a huge smile on his face and walked up to Chewbacca and said: “Ya know Chewie, I’m going to beat the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.” No, this was just the icing on the cake. Han wanted he and his friends to survive and live.

The point I’m making is that in my life, I have had to go in sometimes through an uncharted path even if I had a guide (Han had Lando’s droid L3 , albeit, she hated his guts). My Kessel Run like the one in Solo has been full of debris. One of them finding out about my diagnosis of Aspergers at age 17 and Von Hippel Lindau Syndrome nine years later at age 25. Such debris had bruise and battered me just like the debris in the Kessel Run nearly wrecked the Falcon. And yes, such debris probably would have killed me.

But even though I was terrified, I got through it. I knew Han was terrified despite knowing he was an amazing and phenomenal pilot. He didn’t want to die but he knew that he didn’t get out, the Imperial were going to blow him and his friends sky high.

I feel that we all have to run our own Kessel Run. I do it everyday when I go to work. The debris could come in the form of a customer yelling at me or a write up from a supervisor. I go through the Kessel Run when it comes doing my podcasts. The debris could come from a trolling listener who always has something to say. I go through the Kessel Run when I am dealing with VHL. A debris could come in the form of a surgery (granted my surgeon at Mayo Clinic sometimes reminds me of Wedge Antilles). I go through the Kessel Run when freelance writing. The debris could be in the form of a reader pointing out that I misquoted someone or said an unsubstantiated fact. The Kessel Run is everyday. It is in all of us.

Now as I write this, I think of WWE Superstar Joe “Roman Reigns” Anoa’i. He definitely had to fly through his Kessel Run and a debris came in the form of Leukemia. When I heard the news that his Leukemia had returned…I felt shocked and sadness. How could this bigger than life wrestler go through such a thing? Well…I don’t know the answer to that question. All I do know is that he is human. And this guy has been through so much debris in his Kessel Run. The fans booed him out of the building despite him being the good guy and going out to the WWE ring with a smile on his face. And he prevailed. But he is not finished with his run yet.

I even think of Alden Ehrenreich when many of the fans trashed him for being in Solo. He had to go through his Kessel Run when he ran into debris in the form of the many fans giving him flak and the rumors said that he needed an acting coach. For what it was worth, he did a damn good job as Han Solo and was his very own Han Solo. Even Harrison Ford said that he should be his own Han Solo. And he did it with a smile on his face and Solo actually was liked by some fans. It was a true Star Wars movie and most certainly better than The Last Jedi.

I could name a couple more examples of many people (real and fictional) who went/are going through the Kessel Runs of their lives: My grandparents, my parents, my siblings, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my nephews, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, AJ Styles, Becky Lynch, Rick Grimes, George Washington, Dave Ramsey, Rachel Cruz, Daryl Dixon, Maggie Rhee, Glenn Rhee, Michonne, Joseph Pulitzer, Chris Jericho, Harriet Tubman, John F. Kennedy, Jackie Robinson, Clark “Superman” Kent, Steve “Captain America” Rogers, Bruce “Batman” Wayne, Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon, Barry “The Flash” Allen, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson…I can name many. We all are going through a Kessel Run. Rich or poor. Man or woman. Republican or Democrat. Black, white, yellow, brown, green, red, blue. The Kessel Run does not discriminate. You will go through it just like Han did, I promise you but, it will be fun and worth it as long as you have faith in yourself. And it would be scary but it would be fun.

In conclusion…I just wanted to thank Han Solo (Harrison Ford and Alden Ehrenreich) for helping me make sense of my life. If it wasn’t for Han Solo, I feel like I wouldn’t get some part of my life. In some sense…I feel like Han Solo an influence on my life much like Zorro was to Batman.

Superman made me believe that a man could fly. Batman made me believe that a man could fight through tragedy. Han Solo made me believe that a man can overcome the odds as long as he told the doubters to: “Never tell me the odds!”

My final message to you people: never let anyone tell you the odds, no matter the debris in your life called the Kessel Run.

 

 

 

 

In Defense of Nora West-Allen

Photo credit: CW Network and DC Comics

“Time Bomb,” the 16th Episode of the fifth season of the Flash was indeed an episode that dropped a bomb on Team Flash. With much prodding from Sherloque Wells, Nora West-Allen, aka XS, and the Fastest Daughter Alive was revealed to have been working with the Flash’s nemesis the Eobard “Reverse-Flash” Thawne in the year 2049. With the truth out, this caused Barry Allen to jail his own daughter in the meta cell. Nora apologized to her father for lying to him for which Papa-Flash responded “So am I.” Talk about grounding your child for hanging out with a bad influence.

I did a poll on Twitter for the Flashcast which is a podcast segment that I do for the Podcast on Earth-2 regarding Barry’s decision to jail Nora. In the poll, I asked if Barry was right to jail his daughter after the revelation. By a landslide vote, most people have sided with Barry on this one. As for me, I am mixed on the issue.

The reason behind my ambivalence is that as a long-time viewer of the Flash (and someone who has started to like Nora’s character), I can see both motivations of father and daughter.

In Barry’s point-of-view, his beloved daughter was in cahoots with the very man that killed his mother when Barry was only 11-years old. What’s ironic is that Nora is the name of Barry’s mother. So, for his daughter to be working for his mother’s killer must have got him  feeling (rightfully so) some kind of way (an obviously not-so-good feeling). Let’s not forget the hurt Thawne has done to others. Barry’s father, Henry Allen, was framed for a crime he did not commit, several people were affected by the particle accelerate explosion and woken up with powers they did not ask for, and many others were killed.

Now, in Nora’s point-of-view, we see a young naïve woman who had just learned that she has these extraordinary powers she did not ask to inherit from her father. In addition to that, she had to grow up without a father and with a mother who was overprotective of her. When Nora found out that she had powers, it became her mission to travel back in time to meet her heroic father in person who disappeared before she was born. But to do that, she was going to need to get help from more than the archives or exhibits from the Flash Museum could provide her. She wasn’t going to need something…she was going to need someone to help teach her about her abilities.

Enter Eobard Thawne, the greatest nemesis of the Flash and the murderer of her grandmother.

Uncle Eobard had all the knowledge of all things Speed Force. And even more, he could give Nora what she wanted: the chance to meet and possibly save her father. As a result, Nora learned to run back in time. And with that, she met her father Barry at his wedding to Iris West before it was crashed by Nazis (God, I hate Nazis).

What I am writing is that I understand how Barry felt and why he did what he had to. After all, his daughter was taking direction from the man that killed his mother (her grandmother) and hurt others. But I also understand Nora’s point-of-view. This was a young woman who had never seen her father and who was overprotected by her mother. After watching every episode from this season and seeing more of Nora’s relationship with Thawne, there is no doubt in my mind that Future Iris dampened Nora’s powers because she feared that Nora would seek the Reverse-Flash for answers. I also have no doubt in my mind that somehow, Thawne took out the dampener from Nora and taught her about the Speed Force while he fed her lies about Iris. In other words, Nora was manipulated in the guise of a promise that with her abilities, she would be able to see and save her father.

Think about how you would feel if given the opportunity to see a loved one. What would you do? What hoops would you jump to do so? Or what about when it came to just saving the world? What would you do? Who do you know would have the best expertise to give you what you need when it came to your abilities? Barry of all people should know the answers to those questions.

Like Nora, he sought the help of Reverse Flash and with the knowledge that the bastard killed his mother. First time was when he learned that he could run back in time to see his mother and change history. First time around, he realized that doing so would jack up the timeline. The second time Barry had to sought Thawne’s wisdom was when he needed to have the Tachyon device fixed to improve his speed.  The third time around was after Zoom murdered Barry and thus Barry did run back in time and save his mother. This resulted in Flashpoint where everything was nearly out of whack. And guess who Barry sought to restore the time line? You guessed it, it was Uncle Eobard who advised the Scarlet Speedster that his mother had to be killed for everything to be almost normal or at least close to it. And the fourth time was to prepare a device that would take down Cicada. And let’s not forget, Barry himself acknowledged that he too thought keeping secrets protected his loved one. Maybe this would be a teachable moment for both father and daughter.

Barry and Nora have a lot in common when it comes to being the hopeful and trustworthy heroes they are. I feel that Barry is going to realize this is later episodes as the fifth seasons comes to an end. Nora is a reflection of the curious and confused speedster Barry once was. Both had Thawne as a father figure who mentored them and taught them everything about themselves and the speedforce. Both longed to see their fathers. And both had to realize that their powers are a reminder that they are not gods. They are people given a gift and a special purpose. Sooner or later, Barry and the rest of Team Flash will forgive Nora for lying because they knew that given the situation, they would have listened to Thawne because of the impact that he had on their lives. That is my defense of Nora West-Allen.