With the television show “The Flash” being a huge success, it was just a matter of time until the comic began to make some adjustments to its own setup to bring some familiar faces back onto the page. So, with that in mind, it’s not a surprise that “The Flash” #41 has both Professor Zoom and Henry Allen in central roles. What is a bit of a surprise, though, is that Van Jensen, Robert Venditti, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund aren’t afraid to go in their own direction with these characters, rather than marching in lockstep with the television versions.
What’s nice about the way that Jensen and Venditti treat Professor Zoom is that he comes across as both dangerous and also methodical. This is a character who’s not only portrayed as faster than the Flash, but also biding his time instead of merely striking at a moment’s notice. His toying with the Flash in this issue is akin to a cat batting around a mouse before going for the kill. By delaying the inevitable, Jensen and Venditti show us Zoom’s power even as they increase the anticipation.
Then there’s Barry Allen’s father, Henry Allen. Like in the television show (and set up even before “Flashpoint” several years ago), he’s locked up for the murder of his wife. Here, as Barry begins to get closer to learning what really happened, Jensen and Venditti throw some wrinkles into what may have felt like a very predictable story. Henry’s new alliances in prison will throw some readers for a loop, doubly so when you see him exploit them for a very specific end goal. It would have been easy to make Henry Allen a semi-saintly character, and Jensen and Venditti instead provide a character with a bit more depth and nuance to him.
Barry himself is almost (but not quite) a secondary character but, considering everything that’s going on with his father and his arch-nemesis, that’s understandable. We’re still getting updates on him, both with his public and private life — including a new roommate whose continued presence is welcome in this title — and Venditti and Jensen give us enough that fans of Barry should be happy enough to make it to next month.
Booth and Rapmund’s art is at its best in the action sequences of “The Flash” #41. The two page-spread of Barry changing into the Flash and zooming off is a great example, with the panels almost getting blown off of the page in the Flash’s wake; it’s a great way to feel that this is a character moving genuinely fast. Similarly, when it comes to the more visually extravagant villains like Double Down or Girder, the characters are fun to look at and the duo really digs in to make them memorable. The quieter moments are just all right here, though. At times, it feels a little uninspired; as he’s talking to Henry, the two “surprised Barry Allen” moments are so visually similar that it would be understandable if you at first thought that Booth and Rapmund had merely copied him from one panel into another; the same is true with the profile images of Barry listening to Henry talk. There’s just not enough variety here, and it drags those scenes down.
Overall, “The Flash” #41 does a good job of coming out of the “Convergence” break with enough for old and new readers to sink their teeth into. This is a book that is primed to be a huge seller, so long as the right approach for new readers is presented. So far? I think it’s heading down that path.