“The Flash” #30 brings on board an entirely new creative team — Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth, and Norm Rapmund — and even before this issue was published they were getting attention. With the announcement that the character of Wally West would appearing in their run, a lot of eyes were promptly focused on the new crew. So far, it’s off to a solid start.
Most of the issue has nothing to do (directly) with Wally West, but rather Barry Allen and the rest of Central City recovering from the events of “Forever Evil.” Saying that the city was trashed is an understatement; the images that we see of the city look like it was ground zero of a particularly nasty war. Torn up pavement, broken buildings, graffiti everywhere, abandoned vehicles — it’s almost a relief to see the Venditti and Jensen aren’t ignoring what happened in the big event book. Instead of brushing it under the rug and moving forward, they’re taking the time to deal with the damage, and more than just of a physical nature.
While the idea of sending a superhero to a psychiatrist is a bit more common these days, Venditti and Jensen’s take feels still a little fresh and original. That’s in part because it’s not the Flash being sent there, but rather Barry Allen (and everyone else in the Central City Police Department). It’s a smart, logical assumption on what would happen to everyone in law enforcement after such a horrific series of events occurred. Vendetti and Jensen mix that with showing the Flash trying to help out the people of Central City; it’s a familiar montage, but it works.
Booth’s pencils, on the whole, work here. Booth draws a very elongated, leggy version of the Flash, one that explodes across the page. While I don’t think anyone’s going to beat Francis Manapul’s depiction of the character for some time, Booth and Rapmund rise to the occasion. What works best is the physical difference between the Flash and Barry Allen. In his civilian clothes, Barry is often hunched over, slumped with a bit of depression and despair. It’s only when he’s out helping people that Booth draws him fully upright and energized (both physically and emotionally); you get a strong visual distinction between the pair. Every now and then the art feels a little odd — the collapsing bridge feels like this was perhaps not what Venditti and Jensen had in mind, unless the people of Central City are really going to drive on a bridge at a 45 degree tilt — but on the whole it’s a good start.
As for the Wally West storyline, well, it’s clearly just getting started and for now the creators are holding most of the cards close to their chest. With time travel and the electric-blue Flash as part of this issue, we’ll be seeing a lot of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Overall, I’m sold enough to come back next issue and see what they have in store. That’s a good place to start.