Not sure if you've heard about this or not, but there's a Flash-centric event coming up from DC real soon. Aw, who am I kidding? You've seen news about "Flashpoint" here on CBR and you've also probably read about it in another comic or two or on DC's "The Source." At any rate, "The Road to Flashpoint" starts right here. Sort of.
From what I gather about "Flashpoint," it's going to be an "Age of Apocalypse" or "Elseworlds" alternate reality type of extravaganza. So there may be more clues here than it appears on the surface, but on the surface it only appears as though Johns is continuing to rebuild Barry Allen's life. This issue is largely focused on Barry's day job as a forensic scientist. There's a mystery corpse, wearing a replica of Elongated Man's costume, and Barry foregoes a chance to connect with the rest of the Flash family at a picnic in favor of working on this case. That leads him to be at the lab late, which, naturally leads to a confrontation with Hot Pursuit.
This brings me to a point in this book that gives me great pause. Hot Pursuit?! Really? That's kind of a lame name for a hero or villain, unless it happens to be a hero or villain from the 1990s. I understand the police motif, but wow. This one's going to take a long time to get used to. Speaking of Hot Pursuit, the solicit text for this issue teased us with, "And just wait until you see whose face is under Hot Pursuit's helmet..." It's not a great reveal, and I'm certainly not thrilled by the character choice, but it is a surprising reveal in that I didn't expect that one.
As I've already mentioned, there's a fine bit of police procedure in the book, but Manapul fumbles this as Barry Allen seems to be just taking the finger prints in random order, starting with the middle finger and then working to the index finger without handling the thumb. I'm not a police officer, I've never been printed, so I may be way out of line here, but it just seemed odd to me to dial in the focus and then get it wrong. It's a nit that I've just picked, to be certain, but when you elect to show the details of a job, I would think it would be important to show the details of a job being done right. Unless that's one of the spots where Zoom's messing up time as was shown in the last issue.
Otherwise, Manapul's art and Buccellatto's colors are phenomenal, so much so that any one panel feels worthy of framing in its own right. This is a beautiful book by all measures, and that beauty is smartly employed to get the story across for the most part. When the crime team gets on the scene of the costumed body, Buccellatto washes the pages in green, casting an uneasy pallor on the story, which makes for a brilliant contrast to the bright, sunny day the Flash clan is enjoying for their picnic. Either story would be a treasure to look at for an entire issue, but the story needs to move.
Unfortunately, it doesn't move any too quickly, but it does pick up as it goes along. As much as I want to like "The Flash," this book just hasn't found a way to hook me yet. Manapul's art is the big draw for me in this series so far, but maybe as the event draws nearer, my interest will increase.