The third issue of the post-“Rebirth” Barry Allen adventures gets off to a fast start — twelve uninterrupted pages fast! For whatever reason, that stuck out to me. The book was over half done before the first ad. Maybe because of that or independent of the advertising spacing, this issue zoomed past.
As part of the “Brightest Day” family of books, “the Flash” has the distinction of following one of the resurrected twelve, Captain Boomerang. Digger makes his presence known in this issue, putting up a fight even though he is outnumbered by a squad of guards in Iron Heights penitentiary. During the scuffle, a revelation is made, tying “Brightest Day,” “Blackest Night,” and Captain Boomerang together. I was caught unawares by the new development. Yes, amazingly the creators of a comic managed to spring a surprise on me in this day of spoilers that cross the internet faster than the Flash crosses Central City.
Francis Manapul plays up the moment with panache. Through Manapul’s work, we get a clean read on the feelings that rumble through the noggin of Digger Harkness as he seizes an opportunity that even he didn’t expect to encounter. That’s where Manapul’s strength really lies. His art runs right up to the cliffside overlooking excessive cartoonish drawing, but it never topples to crash upon the rocks below, largely due to Manapul’s superb characterization. Iris signing for a refill of her java, then shooting a raised eyebrow over to Barry, Barry’s surprise at the end of the issue, and Singh’s territorial attack on Barry for botching a crime scene all shine through in this book, and Manapul’s art with Buccellato’s colors make it all look fresh and new. The Flash has never looked like this and for Barry Allen, it works.
This iteration of “The Flash” has been multi-faceted: re-establishing Barry in the Central City crime lab; the return of Captain Boomerang; re-connecting Barry and Iris; introducing the heirs apparent of the Rogues Gallery. Johns has done a good job balancing them all while emphasizing that this is a book about Barry Allen as the Flash. The net effect is quite a bit better than I (a stalwart Wally West fan) ever expected. Barry isn’t a particularly deep character, yet. Johns is working on it, and bringing us along for the ride. While Wally’s sting as the Flash was narrated largely by Wally himself, Johns has completely avoided using Barry’s voice to guide us through this series. Here, the actions speak louder than words and allow Manapul’s Silver Age throwback page layouts to shine.
The main story is a mere twenty pages, but Johns teams up with his old pal Scott Kolins to provide a two-page “FlashFacts” bit at the end of the book. That segment makes a nice enhancement to the story that precedes it, and I’m interested to see if this proves to be a regular bit. This series has gotten off to a good start and it appears as though its just hitting its stride now.