The new creative team for “The Flash” — Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund — are telling a very traditional story for their first major arc. But as “The Flash” #32 reminds us, it’s not so much the broad strokes, but rather the final details that can make the end result exciting.
There are really three different stories here; the person who’s stolen multiple pieces of Rogues’ technology to hunt down and kill a specific group of people, the future Flash trying to come back to the present to stop the time from going haywire, and Barry Allen attempting to bond with teenager Wally West. And while there are connections and threads between all three, I think it’s fair to say that for now they’re all moving forward on their own. There’s a good balance between them, though; each one gets just the right amount of page time, with one flowing into the next easily.
More importantly, “The Flash” #32 makes these scenes entertaining, and in doing so ups the overall plot. The scenes with the new villain using reality-warping gloves (from a villain named Merge) is fun in both script and visuals; Barry’s response to Merge’s powers being used to create modern art is amusing, and Booth and Rapmund sell the scene with how crazy it looks. With homes and nature merging into one another, it looks both attractive and dangerous; “Alice in Wonderland” gone deadly. Even something as simple as a gravity web centered on the Flash looks good as it pulls him down with just the right dip in its concentric circles.
The other two parts of the story also work well with a marriage of story and art. Future Flash’s encounter with Captain Cold; the sympathy and confusion on Flash’s face, as well as his explanation on why he’s there and what his ultimate goal is. Venditti and Jensen have taken a very standard story here and given it some heart. And while the bonding between Barry and Wally seems turn on a dime from negative to positive, it ends up succeeding in no small part because of the expressions that Booth and Rapmund gives them. There’s excitement and joy on their faces, and watching them both get pumped up over the baseball game ends up singing true.
“The Flash” is doing well under Venditti, Jensen, Booth and Rapmund; we’re getting sold stories with just the right extra spark to push it into the above average category. If you’d been holding off on seeing how the new creative team is doing, this is as good a place as any to give it a whirl.