Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Penciller: Marcus To
Inker: Ray McCarthy
Colourists: Brian Buccellato and Ian Herring
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Previously, in The Flash: During a battle with Captain Cold, the Flash created a time vortex that sucked his friend Iris West, as well as numerous other civilians, into the Speed Force, apparently never to be seen again. Since no one knows that the Flash and Barry Allen are one and the same, others now believe that Barry perished in the vortex, including Barry’s girlfriend, Patty Spivot.
After rescuing Patty from the Weather Wizard in Guatemala, Barry was going to reveal his secret identity to her, however, her guilt and anger over Barry’s supposed death put Barry off. Instead, he has decided that Barry Allen will remain “dead”, and a new civilian identity is in order.
This issue reintroduces Heatwave, another of the Flash’s Rogues into his life, dramatically changed from his previous appearance. Like Captain Cold before him, Heatwave was a normal guy with a flamethrowing weapon; now, he seems to generate his own flames, but doesn’t seem to be heatproof, given his heavily scarred appearance. It’s an intriguing take on the character, and a bit more interesting than just another guy with a gun like he used to be, though we don’t really get a lot of background or even personality from this issue.
We do however get some more hints as to what has gone on before this issue takes place. The Rogues have all undergone a transformation recently that has given them their newly internalized powers, and it hasn’t worked out as well as they’d hoped. None of them seem to be particularly in control (aside from Weather Wizard, but that was debatable), and at least one of them is bitter about what has happened to them as a result. With answers around the corner in the Flash Annual released at the end of the month, it’s nice to see a payoff in our sights rather than having this cryptically hinted at for a long time and dragged out. Glider continues to appear in the background as well, seemingly collecting the Rogues for something bigger down the line also.
It’s not all villains and villainy in this issue though. Barry begins to establish a new life for himself after deciding to leave Barry Allen dead and finds a job as a bartender, which leads him into conflict with Heatwave. There’s a bit of a big coincidence that has Captain Cold, Heatwave, and Barry all in the same bar, but it’s easy to overlook when you see that Barry has been working in the roughest part of Keystone City. Manapul and Buccellato are giving Keystone and Central Cities their own unique feel which is something that set them apart from Gotham and Metropolis before the New 52 began, so it’s nice to see them repeating this; it helps in the world building of the New 52 by making these places feel different, as opposed to having them easily interchangeable. The Flash wouldn’t work in Gotham in the same way Superman wouldn’t work in Central City, and that’s both a hard and satisfying thing to accomplish.
In his second issue of his two fill-ins, Marcus To once again performs admirably. His usual style works very well with this fairly straight forward issue. I can’t really see the happenings here giving much scope for Manapul’s more widescreen style, whereas To’s fits this more confined plot easily. Again, To’s ability to show different body types comes into play nicely as Cold, Heatwave, Barry, and even the bartender all have distinctive shapes that show they are people, not carbon copies with different heads. I’m glad Manapul returns next issue, but if we ever need fill-ins for Flash again, I’d be very happy with To taking up the pressure.
The Flash rockets on in this second arc as the Rogues continue to come together, as does the Flash’s world. Manapul and Buccellato continue to prove themselves excellent writers, and Marcus To’s contributions to this title won’t soon be forgotten.
GO Rating: 3/5