Barry Allen, Wally West, Jay Garrick and any other Flash you can possibly think of are simply not present in “The Flash #23.1: Grodd.” Why? Because it’s Villains Month and Brian Buccellato and Chris Batista would like to share a little story about Grodd.
Despite subtleties drawn in from “Forever Evil,” such as the eclipse and mention of “the big meeting,” “The Flash” #23.1 capably stands on its own, but is more fully enjoyed as an installment in the larger run of “The Flash” from Buccellato and Francis Manapul. Using Grodd for narration that parallels the revelation of the darkness in the would-be gorilla king’s deeds, Buccellato gives readers a taste of what could have been (and maybe still could be) between the humans of Central and Keystone cities and the gorillas of Gorilla City. Just as it seems like things are shaping up nicely, Buccellato knocks it all down, not unlike Grodd thrashing about in the midst of this issue.
The key to good gorilla comics is having gorillas drawn well, which “The Flash” #23.1 has in spades. Batista’s realistic-flavored drawings make these gorillas no less plausible than a flying man or a ring that can make imagination real. The artist marvelously captures the grace and emotion these great apes are capable of and expertly renders Grodd’s fury and agitation. On top of all that, Batista is able to depict individualism among the apes. Grodd, Solovar and Nnamdi are all distinct and recognizable throughout, resplendent with a range of emotions and able to carry “The Flash” #23.1 without the presence of a scarlet speedster.
I’m not a fan of gimmicks for gimmicks sake, which is what Villains Month feels like to me, but there are characters and creators that have a chance to revel readers this month. Grodd, being a gorilla, had an advantage coming in. Buccellato and Batista seize that advantage nicely; leaving me still hopeful that someday DC will wise up enough to grace comic book history with a Gorilla City series, mini or otherwise. While I’m not keen on not having a complete story in this issue, there is enough here to make the issue worth a read. Grodd’s adventures continue elsewhere. I just hope the next chapter in his escapades is as well executed as this one.