Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Barry Allen is an inherently boring character, largely due to him being an ordinary guy. It’s actually a part of his overall appeal. He isn’t emotionally damaged like Bruce Wayne or Hal Jordan. Even with the [relatively] recent change to his past which saw Eobard Thawne travel back in time and kill his mother, Barry Allen remains a regular guy. Sure, he has super-speed, but he also has a day-job, rent, and personal relationships to worry about. In many ways, he’s DC’s answer to Marvel’s Spider-man. Unfortunately, the current creative team appears to be of the mindset that this formula [which has worked for the better part of a century] is broken and in need of fixing. In The Flash #37, writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen continue their “Future Flash” epic with Barry’s future, blue-suited self adjusting to life in his past with the pathos and edge that the character has lacked.
There are elements to Venditti and Jensen’s script that shine brightly in an otherwise average issue. Future Barry handing a barista $50 for a cup of coffee is a clever little dig at the public perception of Starbucks’ pricing. Of greater significance is Patty’s growing suspicion that the Barry working alongside her in the Central City forensics lab is not quite normal. This is a pleasant development and departure from the doppelganger trope which is often used in superhero comics – most recently (and infamously) in the pages of Superior Spider-man. Venditti and Jensen should be applauded for bucking the trends and portraying their supporting characters as fairly competent.
Also worthy of praise is the art by Brett Booth (pencils), Norm Rapmund (inks), and Andrew Dalhouse (colors) – particularly the segments which take place within the Speed Force. With Booth being a self-proclaimed dinosaur fanatic, the script provides him ample opportunity to rise to the occasion. Needless to say, he delivers in spades. The settlement which present-day Barry has joined is attacked by an invading force armed with weapons and dinosaurs, allowing the art team to cut loose and create brilliantly rendered imagery. It’s worth noting that the issue calls out the floating rocks in the sky where Barry was trapped way back during the Manapul/Buccellato run.
It still remains unclear where the creative team is taking this story. Though the writers are trying to make the case that the hardships he has faced over his crime-fighting career has hardened his personality, the Future Flash they have created is Barry Allen in name only. Barry is mild-mannered, hopeful in the face of tragedy, and always looking forward. These characteristics which make Barry Allen endearing to readers are nowhere to be found in the Future Flash. Granted, the heroic incarnation that is trapped in the Speed Force is wholly recognizable, the script gives greater attention to the alienating version from the future. This story arc has the potential to be very good, but it continues to be held back by an unfocused narrative.
Note: This review was originally published at InfiniteComix.com