Despite having a larger creative crew than average issues of the title, “The Flash” #15 by Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato, Marcus To, Ryan Winn, Ian Herring and Carlos Mangual feels like half a story. The Flash is never properly suited up, save for flashbacks or fevered dreams, and action is all in speculative “flash forward” visions.
Buccellato and Manapul have done a magnificent job crafting the nine pages of “flash forward” visions, which are without debate the best pages of “The Flash” #15. In the vision sequence, the creative duo takes more liberties to present artwork that is looser and more detailed, colorful and expressive. The images have a watercolor appearance in spots and further fuel the uncertainty of the future Flash peers into. By sharp contrast, the pages drawn by Marcus To with inks by Ryan Winn and colors by Ian Herring just don’t seem as deep. The storytelling is solid and the characters are well crafted, but the two segments of the book feel almost like two separate stories altogether.
The story in this issue seems to have stalled. Manapul and Buccellato spend some time in Patty Spivot’s brain and continue to make a solid case for a gorilla victory, but otherwise nothing of consequence really happens. Flash’s visions are so varied and expansive that I found myself more entranced by the detail and craftsmanship of each panel as opposed to processing the story being told throughout them. Flash does find an answer in those visions and his determination to see it through elevates the revelation to mystery status, enticing readers to come back.
Without checking the numbering or projection of this “Gorilla Warfare” storyline, I could tell this issue is the midpoint in the story as the adventure pivots and the pacing slows. That provides Buccellato and Manapul with the opportunity to draw plotlines together while taking stock of various elements that have brought the story to this point. Grodd and his army have been integrated in this title since issue #9 and while I will not say their tale is growing old, I can most definitely say that I welcome conclusion soon. After all, the fastest man alive should be a little quicker to get from one adventure to the next. Of course, if Manapul and Buccellato are in place to provide visuals as they were for the latter half of “The Flash” #15 the pacing and the story itself takes a back seat to tremendous visuals.