“The Flash” #2 was a comic that can give its reader whiplash. Not because it’s really fast moving, but rather because it jerks back and forth from one level of quality to the other. Take, for instance, the overall plot of the 25th century versions of the Rogues being a group of super-powered police officers that came back in time to arrest the Flash over the murder of one of their members. It’s a fun idea, it’s a use of the Rogues (or at least their names and powers) that we haven’t seen before, and it has a lot of potential. So in this issue we have Flash fighting versions of his old foes, but knowing that they’re actually good guys even if (in theory) they’re mistaken.
That’s one of the good parts of the issue. Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul can handle a fight involving super-speed and other gadgets pretty well, and everything from snow storms to robotic handcuffs is beautifully drawn. It’s a short but entertaining sequence, and it sets the stage for the rest of the issue. Likewise, Barry and Iris talking about the fight afterwards works because it reinforces the idea of the Flash being a genuine hero, and both his read on his intended captors as well as his determination to find the real killer is something that’s a character I can rally behind. Likewise, seeing Barry Allen performing police work and opening up an otherwise closed case is a good character moment, and it’s something I’m hoping we see followed up to its full extent in the issues to come.
On the other hand, there’s a cliffhanger that is so obvious that it’s actually disappointing, especially after some stronger moments earlier in the issue. I actually turned the page to see what would come next and instead had a bad, “Wait, that’s it?” reaction to the conclusion of the issue. There’s also one of the most ludicrous uses of super-speed I’ve seen in ages in this issue, as the Flash repairs all the damage done to a building. It’s so out there crazy that it it’s hard to not roll your eyes at it, even after the Flash tries to explain it to an equally skeptical Iris. Super-speed tricks can be fine and dandy, but this was so sufficiently loopy that I hope we don’t see the book regularly go down this route.
As mentioned before, Manapul’s art is great. He and colorist Brian Buccellato work well together, using effects to make the snowstorm seem just the right level of transparent, or to help accentuate the Flash-blur visual as he zooms around the page. I like how his characters look, too, like the Flash’s “Be right back,” determined expression, or the incredulous faces staring at his handiwork. (And I had to laugh at the girl’s expression with the whole doll replacement sequence, which goes from calm to surprised in just the right amount of time.)
The highs are high in “Flash” #2, even as the lows are low. Overall, it averages out to a perfect middle grade. I have to admit, though, I’ve never been interested in Barry Allen as a character before, and Johns and Manapul have me already planning to keep reading. That’s certainly a good sign.