The Flash #231–237 by Mark Waid, Daniel Acuna, Freddie Williams III
Waid’s original run on The Flash was a charming, joyful, modern delight – it wasn’t a Silver Age throwback as some would have it, but a story of a man doing the right thing (with science!) while growing up and falling in love. It was my gateway into the DC universe, it introduced me to the concept of the hero legacy in the DC universe (something that Geoff Johns seems to be trying to eliminate by bringing back the original Flash and Green Lantern), and it gave me an appreciation of a style of comic book storytelling that wasn’t being used. It also made me a fan of Waid for life.
Therefore, it’s nice to see Waid back on The Flash – the science aspect returns and family has become a focal point of the book – but the dynamic has changed. Instead of a relaxed Wally West (who had a lot of Waid’s attributes projected onto him, which worked really well and made it feel like a very personal superhero comic book), Wally and Iris now have two children, who aged quickly due to having speed powers, and Wally is training them to be superheroes to help them look after their powers. It’s an unusual set-up for a mainstream superhero book, which works and doesn’t – the idea is a good one (it’s a bit like The Incredibles, which Waid went on to write for Boom) but it seems at odds with the Flash, or what the Flash has been about. I’m not against change, but it’s quite a dramatic alteration to the status quo at a time when the book was in the balance (Waid didn’t last much beyond this collection of issues, and things are very different for Flash now). Also, it doesn’t seem as polished as would be expected from Waid, as if he was still finding his feet after coming back on to the series.
The other thing that doesn’t seem to work as well as I expected was the art. Acuna, an artist whose cover work has been great, doesn’t seem to be as strong on interiors; his soft, beautiful style doesn’t match the Flash, with inconsistent faces and slightly washed-out look (I always associate the Flash with sharpness and definition). Williams has a chunky style that is fine, but it doesn’t suit any of the characters in this story, particularly the Flash; his art comes off looking like a manga version of Bart Sears.
The best part of this book was ‘The Fast Life’, co-written by Waid and John Rogers and drawn by Dougie Braithwaite – it’s much more like what I was expecting from this book and tells a great little story well. That it’s a digression from the main story is not a good sign, and means that this collection is not even an interesting curio of what could have been if it had led to another long run on The Flash from Waid.