“The Flash Annual” #1 starts off surprisingly strong with some interesting beats, but shortly disappears into itself as the Rogues are presented in the same old manner masquerading as new. Cue the fighting and then the cliffhanger end with yet another famous Flash villain. The title has done it all before and offers no reason to do so again.
The entire issue is broken up into chapters with a different art team assigned to each one. To begin, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccelato use this segmented style to tell vignettes that hold some strength on their own. These personal moments are effective and offer a voice to the issue. The latter half simply devolves into the usual superpowered mess of fight splashes and double cross moments. What could have been a bold issue with standalone moments of interest becomes another story seen many times before.
A major aspect of this issue is the turn of events that change the Rogues. It’s a relatively large shake up, to some degree, but it doesn’t come off as large as it wants to be. It’s basically all washed into the mix by the end of the issue, which should indicate how important and fascinating it is. There are some twists offered, but then are far too smoothly ironed out by the end of the issue. In essence, none of it really matters.
For an annual issue with a larger page count and price tag, this issue doesn’t stand out as special. There is certainly more content than your average 20 page DC comic, but most of it is slowed down double page spreads and narrative spinning that feels superfluous by the end. Then it finishes with a major cliffhanger, to be continued in “The Flash” #13, and you have to start wondering why this issue is an annual at all. This is a preview at worst, a prelude at best and unsatisfying overall.
The mixed art teams all hold up well. The vignette opening means no art team needs to match another and this makes the cohesive whole stronger. Scott Kolins stands out as his pages are kinetic and fun and later Wes Craig makes his moments count right up until the impressive last page.
“The Flash Annual” #1 is an issue that could have been very cool, but it just didn’t have enough muscle to stand on its own and play by its own rules. The Rogues get some air time but it’s mostly white noise. The Flash manages to not really emote at all past the first few pages. The fights offer some spectacular visuals but eventually come off as hollow. Unfortunately, this issue is indicative of what doesn’t work in superhero comics right now.