Speak softly, and carry a beautifully rendered stick...
The Flash was one of my favorite titles prior to the relaunch, and for the most part has stayed that way since. This is, in most part, due to the work of Manapul and Buccellato (who’s name is very difficult to spell) on art duties. It truly brings out the best in The Flash and is a sight to behold, and has been ever since the pre-new 52 series with Geoff Johns.
Post-relaunch, Manapul and Buccellato took over co-writing duties as well as art. If I have one complaint about the book, it is the writing. At times the pair can stuff so much dialog into a page that just looking at it makes me physically tired. It also tends to be really heavy on the exposition, sometimes bordering on the disgustingly cliche. This is incredibly disappointing, as the pair have proven that they are capable of writing very well, they just seem to be trying too hard. There have been shining moments of insightful dialog that required only a few lines and one of Manapul’s expertly rendered facial expressions to get the point across perfectly, yet most pages lean toward a Stan Lee-esque level of exposition (sans the charm). To give credit however, these seem to be the pitfalls of new writers, which the pair definitely are. However the overall plotting of the book has been excellent. The stories have been action packed and entertaining, and the central ideas and changes to the character have been executed beautifully. Now they just need to bring down the word count a few notches.
This particular issue features the work of artist Marcus To, who also did a two issue stint earlier in the series, and is probably one of the few capable of holding his own against the teams established and lauded art team. I feel terrible for anyone who is brought in to fill-in for Francis Manapul, as they are actually the world’s largest shoes to fill, but To handles himself quite well. He doesn’t try to ape Manapul’s style, allowing his own influences to come through in the character acting, but make striking use of Manapul’s example with the layouts. There’s a 6 page sequence at the end of the book that forms one incredibly long horizontal spread, all of which ties into the inner-workings of Barry’s mind that’s going on in a beautiful fashion.
This arc, involving Grodd and his legion of Gorillas invading Central City, has been one of the better ones since the launch of the book. This issue again suffered from some over-writing in places, but maintains it’s pacing well throughout. All in all, if you’re reading this title then you’re probably enjoying it. The only bad news is that if you’re not reading this title, I have a hard time recommending it lately. With luck, Manapul and Buccellato will find their groove as writers and continue to improve. They certainly have the ideas to go far with the book, and this is especially impressive considering other writer/artists flailing at DC (cough cough Tony Daniel David Finch cough). One thing is certain, leave these two to hone their skills and we could wind up with something really great…though in the interim they could probably stand a few more lessons from Geoff Johns.
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