It’s been a long (and expensive) month, but the fourth and final week of first issue of The New 52 has finally come and gone! I’ll be reviewing all 52 #1 issues released this month, and you can find all of the reviews on the Comic Book Reviews index page. This week we’ve got a title that’s no stranger to relaunches: The Flash #1! The Flash has been relaunched with a fresh #1 issue on three separate occasions now over the last 5 years (including just last year!), and each of those previous books has lost speed (so to speak) and been cancelled within a year. Is the third time the charm for The Flash?
This review will be as spoiler-free as possible.
[NOTE: I’ll be using the “short-form” review that omits individual sections for “The Right” and “The Wrong” for this and several other of The New 52 first issues where my feelings are particularly strong.]
So here we are at The Flash #1. Again.
Unlike the previous two recent relaunches of The Flash, this one has been made fully-accessible. How accessible? Well, Barry Allen is no longer married to Iris West. He never had a sidekick Kid Flash, and it’s up-in-the-air as to whether or not Wally West ever even existed. The Kid Flash over in Teen Titans #1 “has no relation to The Flash”. And all of those other speedsters like Max Mercury, Jesse Quick, Impulse, and so forth? They’re not here and it appears they’re not going to be. So Barry Allen finally has the stage all to himself again after decades.
Unfortunately, Barry Allen has all the intrigue and charisma of a cardboard cutout.
The only thing that’s made Barry interesting at all since his return from the dead was his interaction with other, more interesting characters, particularly those of the large Flash family. With those characters gone, we’re left with Barry all alone and his lack of personality and character depth is more than apparent. You would think that if I could be made to feel sympathy for a stripper in Voodoo #1, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make the fastest man alive compelling. But as it turns out, Barry is totally devoid of personality and the whole book feels hollow as a result.
I haven’t spoken about the plot here yet because there’s very little of interest to grasp. Barry Allen works on a case both as The Flash and a cop, and… that’s about it. Even the artwork for this book continues the trend of boring. The color palette chosen is lacking in color and life, making everything that happens seem dismal and dull. The writing here is soulless, but the art is just as empty.
Casual fans picking up “The Flash” for the first time are probably going to expect thrilling, high-speed action and excitement. “Justice League Unlimited” and “Young Justice” fans will be anticipated a funny, charismatic speedster that lights up the pages. But what DC has chosen to give them is a slow, methodical, plodding tale of boring ol’ Barry Allen the forensic scientist.
Overall: This is not an outright horrible comic book, but it certainly isn’t a compelling one. To put it simply, The Flash #1 is an exercise in mediocrity. The art is lifeless and dull, the characters are lacking any hook to make you care about them, and the plot is, well–boring. Yes, DC has managed to make this book accessible to readers. But in doing so, they’ve thrown away one of the richest and most-loved supporting casts in the whole DC Universe, leaving us with only the most uninteresting Flash in the whole family: Barry Allen. And while I wasn’t offended by this comic like I was Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, and it didn’t insult my intelligence like Green Arrow #1, I am not paying DC $2.99 a month to bore me with tales of the least-exciting Flash ever.