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: 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.

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 punk 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.