Writer: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter
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.