Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Robert Venditti and Van Jensen’s run on the The Flash began with a crime scene set in the near future of five years from now. Each subsequent issue has seen a broken and battle-worn Barry Allen fight his way through time to confront his present-day self. With this premise and narrative well established, and unlike most of the other titles in the New 52, the story continues in The Flash: Futures End #1.
Barry’s return to the opening sequence of this story makes this not only among the most anticipated issues of this month, but perhaps the most harrowing. This is among the darkest issues of The Flash in recent memory. In previous issues, Venditti and Jensen have presented the Future Flash as unhinged, but still possessing elements of his humanity. This is not the case here. He is uncompromising, cold, and disturbingly self-righteous. In one sequence, he executes his foe while exclaiming, “I get to be the hero!” Despite his good standing with the citizens of the Gem Cities, Barry has always portrayed as a humble man (especially when compared to his emerald-clad friend, Hal Jordan). For him to be excited about his hero status demonstrates how twisted, callous, and self-absorbed this Future Flash has become.
One of the frequent criticisms of this current run involves the characterization of Wally West. Though the promise of the cover page is not fully realized here, readers will find Wally to be much more likeable than previously depicted. Seeing this provides readers with a reminder that characters change and grow over time, and that their views on a character now may not hold steady over time.
If there is a complaint, it’s that this story falls into the trap that nearly all time-travel stories fall into: paradoxes. The issue’s concluding moments, in which Future Flash kills near-future Flash, should have eliminated the blue-hued speedster from existence. Instead, he is able to continue on his quest to the present day without a problem – chased by a newly powered Wally West. It’s easy and justifiable to look at this situation and scoff at its ridiculousness. Those that are able to suspend their disbelief and embrace the outlandishness of the issue’s comic book science are in for a satisfying adventure.
This art team of Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse deliver one of their best issues to date. Dalhouse’s vibrant colors jump off the page, particularly in the second half when Future Flash and near-future Flash confront each other. The bright reds, yellows, and blues pop off the concrete wasteland Booth has forged with his pencils. Not only do the settings look great, but so do the characters. With Future Flash revealing himself – among his other actions – to Wally and Iris are appropriately expressive, which may be Booth’s greatest strength. Booth’s action sequences, par for the course, are both kinetic and well choreographed, allowing readers to easily follow the story. This is all enhanced by Rapmund’s inks, which add depth and fluidity to the panels.
Though it has little to do with the main Futures End story, The Flash: Futures End #1 is a must-read for those keeping up Barry Allen’s current adventures. Furthermore, it serves as an excellent jumping on point for lapsed readers, as the story should smoothly transition into The Flash #35 without the baggage of previous issues.
Note: This review was originally published at InfiniteComix.com