"The Flash" #40 wraps up the story arc that began last spring with the arrival of Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund to the series. While it's a satisfactory ending that pulls in the current plot threads and ties them off while introducing some new ones for the future, there's also a certain level of excitement that doesn't quite feel present.
The problem may have to do with the villains in recent issues, none of which have seemed terribly menacing. It's hard to create new ones wholesale and make them connect instantly but, nonetheless, none of the bad guys in "The Flash" #40 seem that scary. Add in a certain inevitability that the present-day Flash would eventually get home and the future-Flash would need to go away and, in many ways, the issue checks off the boxes that we all saw present.
It's hard to ignore the fact that a lot of the plot threads dangling for the future -- Barry's relationship with Patty, the re-emergence of the death of Barry's mother and the villain on the last page of the book -- align the comic a bit closer to the current hit television show. At the same time, though, this may end up being a very good thing. Barry's mother's death is a seed that was planted pre-"Flashpoint" by Geoff Johns, and it's a personal enough hook for the main character that it could provide a bit more drive. Likewise, the arrival of the villain on the last page of the book manages to drip menace in a matter of seconds; his presence certainly promises to negate the promise of the current villains not being that dangerous. Of course, the fact that "The Flash" television series is a big hit means that there's a possibility for readers to crossover. Following the cues of the show offers some real potential.
Booth, Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse do their usual good work on "The Flash" #40. The future blue Flash looks all the more ominous when next to the present day Flash, both in the colors that Dalhouse uses and even just the slight differences in designs. Having them side-by-side really emphasizes the changes that Booth made and makes me appreciate the future Flash's look that much more. Most importantly, though, Booth hasn't lost track of how to make the Flash look fast. When the present day Flash finally returns, his skid out of the portal has a great sense of motion. Forget the colors and the effects; even in a black and white penciled and inked page, the poses that Booth and Rapmund use would give that feel of power and energy.
All in all, "The Flash" #40 isn't a bad comic, but the resolution to this many months of comics feels a little underwhelming. With this much of a lead-up, one would expect a great conclusion. I'm hoping that post-"Convergence" issues give "The Flash" the speed and energy that it deserves.