In the “we should have seen this coming” category, “The Flash” #36 follows up on what happens when your Flash from the future is moved back into the present day, while the present day Flash is off in a strange different dimension. Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth, Andre Coelho, and Norm Rapmund’s tale of two Flashes is a little predictable, but fortunately still enjoyable.
Venditti and Jensen stack their deck a bit for “The Flash” #36, with the revelation that the future Flash (aka Blue Flash) has somehow magically de-aged, so that he’s now physically the same age as the present day Flash. As a result, it’s easier for Blue Flash to slide into Barry Allen’s life and enjoy the escape from the dystopian future that he recently left. I do appreciate that Venditti and Jensen don’t make it too simple for Blue Flash to jump right in; after all, how many of the details of your day-to-day life do you remember from five years earlier? The flubs that Blue Flash makes are logical, but at the same time there’s certainly more than enough on Blue Flash’s side to make the switcheroo work.
Slightly more problematic is the continued darkening of Blue Flash. If this is supposed to be Barry Allen from the future (and not a different universe’s Barry, for example) then with each new dark deed that he enacts, it raises the question of what’s keeping the present day Barry Allen from harboring such thoughts and ideas. Even if the turning point between the two really is the potential death of Wally West, it doesn’t change the fact that apparently all it takes is one person’s death to plunge Barry off of the metaphorical cliff. There’s still time for Venditti and Jensen to explain this further, though, so we’ll see how this pans out. But for the moment, at least, it’s a little eyebrow raising.
The art is split between Booth and the late Coelho, and both do a good job. Booth tackles the Flash-in-different-dimension pages, while Coelho draws the Blue Flash. Coelho takes the Booth character design and runs with it (no pun intended), with the icy, streamlined new suit looking just as slick as when Booth draws it. Coelho also helps sell Blue Flash’s attempt to supplant the present day Flash in no small part because of how excited and eager Blue Flash appears to be with his new surroundings. It works well, and Coelho’s contributions to the series will be missed. Booth’s art is good too, if a bit unexpected. Flash is ridiculously muscular once more, although I think it stands out more here by way of comparison to Coelho’s lean Blue Flash. The other dimension looks lush and green under Booth’s pencils, though, and the jungle fortress looks fun thanks to his design.
“The Flash” #36 is moving along at a reasonable clip; the Blue Flash storyline’s hit its first major turning point, and so far how it’s playing it is working. Venditti and Jensen’s story is definitely written with the longer game in mind, though; once it’s complete, it’ll be easier to judge this as part of a larger whole. Until then, though, it’s reasonable but not setting the world on fire. Certainly good enough to come back for another installment.