Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Artist: Francis Manapul
Colourist: Brian Buccellato and Ian Herring
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Previously, in The Flash: Whilst travelling through the Speed Force, the Flash was sent to another continent where he met the inhabitants of Gorilla City. These gorillas worshipped the Flash and his connection to the Speed Force and tried to aid him in his superheroics. Unfortunately, one member of the tribe, Grodd, was against the Flash and attempted to kill him. Grodd was defeated, and Flash returned to Central City.
The Rogues, a collection of villains who have fought the Flash before, have teamed up once again to try and take down the Flash and Dr. Elias, a philanthropist who is out to ruin the Flash as part of a social experiment. As the Rogues close in on the Flash, Captain Cold saves the Scarlet Speedster, and the pair team up to defeat the band of villains. Just as the battle seems over, Grodd arrives in Central City, with an army of gorillas at his command.
Given that its first arc was very long compared to the other New 52 titles, having the Flash starting its third arc with issue 13 seems very quick. That said, it picks up exactly where the last arc concluded, so it’s almost one and the same. With this new arc, we have a team-up between the Flash and the Rogues, and Central City is under siege by Gorilla Grodd and his forces. You might think that the critically acclaimed creative team would be lagging at this point, but you’d be absolutely, totally wrong.
The first thing that struck me about this issue was the huge cast. From the entire team of Rogues to the Flash, as well as numerous supporting characters like Patty Spivot and Turbine (who I thought we’d seen the last of), and even Gorilla Grodd himself, the focus of this issue is split between a very large number of people. But it is very well balanced in this respect; each character’s lines are chosen well, so that even characters who only have a few, like Heatwave, have their personality well defined. There are some who shine a bit brighter than others, like Glider, but everyone gets their time in the spotlight in this issue, and that’s a tall order given how many there are and how much actually happens. There’s even time for the Trickster to get in on the action for a page or two without slowing down the pacing of the main story.
It’s not all gorillas however, with Patty, new cast member Daryl, and the mysterious Daniel West all getting a nudge in a new direction as their plotlines continue despite the ape invasion. The only people conspicuously missing are the Pied Piper and David Singh, though I’m sure both will be back soon. Again, balancing this many cast members and making sure everyone gets a moment to themselves is difficult, and yet Manapul and Buccellato prove time and again in this issue that they can do it.
What makes this entire issue even better is the fact that the titular character isn’t buried under all of these extra characters. It’d be easy for the Rogues to outshine him given their popularity with fans, but the Flash is always our point of view character, and the only narration boxes we get belong to him, plus his actions are the ones that truly drive the plot forward. The Rogues may defeat some gorillas, but it’s the Flash’s decisiveness that causes the plot to move on, as it should be. The creative team have struck the balance between character work and keeping everyone involved, and if they can keep this up, this book will continue to be this good for a long time to come.
It goes without saying that the art on this issue is exceptional; Manapul and Buccellato always benefit from being both writers and artists on this book, and this issue is no exception. Combining their phenomenal art style with their own plotlines means that their winning formula does it again, producing another in a long line of excellent issues that ensure I always look forward to reading this series.
GO Rating: 4/5