Originally published at InfiniteComix.com
The Flash returns following Convergence with a new look, new story arc, and the return of a longtime enemy. He’s been absent from the DC Universe since 2011’s Flashpoint #5. Editorial determined that he was off the board for 2014’s “Reverse” story arc by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. Now, on the strength of the Flash television show’s first season, Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Professor Zoom a.k.a. the Reverse Flash finally returns. True to form, he is a massive thorn in the side of Barry Allen.
Also returning is the writing team of Robert Venditti and Van Jensen. The duo’s initial arc, which saw Barry Allen confront a jaded and misguided version of himself from 20 years in the future, suffered under the story’s bloated length and poorly characterized supporting cast. It appears that the two-month gap between issue #40 and #41 was worth it, as Venditti and Jensen’s script is much tighter and focused. Readers are reintroduced to Barry Allen’s supporting cast, with only a couple notable exceptions, and reminded of his current living situation. No longer is he with Patty Spivot – his love interest since the series debuted – and can instead be found living with Hartley Rathaway and his boyfriend (and Barry’s boss) Captain Singh.
Also of note is the status of Barry’s father, Henry. While he remains in prison for the murder of his wife, Iron Heights is a mixed population of metahumans and “normal” people. But while the character as portrayed by John Wesley Shipp was shanked, this version of Henry proves to be much more resourceful while remaining steadfast in his morality. Using this character template, Venditti and Jensen take the story in an unexpected direction which is both unique and refreshing. Readers may also note that the writers are pulling from the threads left hanging back in The Flash #29.
Of course, the main draw to this particular issue is the return of Eobard Thawne to the DC Universe. Though he is front an center on the issue’s cover, the creative team shows a great amount of restraint, limiting him to only a few panels. His sporadic appearances build suspense and only adds to the mystery of what exactly he has planned for the Flash. Though he is undoubtedly sadistic, his actions in this issue are more along the lines of a prankster. He’s an annoyance, messing with Barry as he attempts to stop a rampaging villain in the streets of Central City. It’s a nice call back to the character’s early appearances, where he would toy with Barry instead of committing atrocities against his loved ones.
The art team of Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse deliver their strongest issue since the start of their run. The linework is crisp. Panels are packed with details. Characters are lively and expressive. The most notable difference from past issues is how vibrant the colors are. The previous arc spent a lot of time either at night or in the shadows, which not only is an odd choice for a Flash comic, but it also limited the options for Dalhouse. But The Flash #41 is mostly a daytime affair, meaning colors are bright and pop of the page. At the end of the day, it is what it is. Brett Booth has both his fans and detractors, and nothing can really be said to convince them to change their opinions one way or another.
If there is a complaint, it’s the redesigned costumes for Flash and Reverse Flash. To be fair, this is a complaint that has roots back when the initial costume designs for the New 52 debuted. Though it is nice that the characters more closely resemble their small-screen counterparts, they can’t compete with the original designs from Carmine Infantino. Simple, sleek, and timeless, there is a reason those looks endured virtually untouched for decades. Just to be clear, it is a matter of personal preference.
The Flash #41 is a wonderful jumping on point for fans of the Scarlet Speedster. Venditti and Jensen’s tightly scripted issue shows much promise for this new arc, while the art by Booth, Rapmund, and Jensen is full of the kinetic energy a book like The Flash demands.