Flash Emergency Stop is a wonderful collection of some excellent Flash stories that came out of an interesting period in the Flash's publishing history. Starting with the issues published in this volume, comic-book-genius Grant Morrison joined with soon to become comic-book-writer/cum promoter-extraordinaire, Mark Millar respectively, and took over the writing reins of Flash, from Mark Waid, to produce about a year's worth of amazing sci-fi infused stories that harkened back to the innocence and invention of the silver age, without insulting the audience.
In Emergency Stop, an intriguing if slightly gauche villain called the Suit is intent on seeing the destruction of the Flash, and succeeds up to the point where the current (at the time, and also the one true Flash in my opinion), Wally West, ends up in a wheel chair. Badly injured, and unable to walk, Wally must use all his skills as the Flash to stop the villain, and save his city and his family and friends from death and destruction. There's also a cool 2 parter involving the Mirror Master, a wonderfully touching story featuring the golden age Flash, Jay Garrick, "standing in" for Wally while he heals, and a fascinating issue featuring court room drama, not unlike parts of some "Law and Order" episodes or segments of "My Uncle Vinnie" to end the collection.
I won't give too much away in terms of the plots but, the stories here are lyrical, fast paced, wonderful character driven pieces, and make for some really great reading. Morrison and Millar made a fine team who demonstrated a reasonably good understanding of Wally West as a character. The supporting cast is used to good effect, with Flash becoming a truly generational saga; there are lots of apperances by the golden aged Flash and the grandson of the second, (at the time deceased Flash, Barry Allen,) in the form of Bart Allen, or "Impulse."
The art is by Paul Ryan, whose strengths are his clear storytelling and solid anatomy. Ryan's work is solid but not flashy, and serve the stories well here. While nothing in the art in these pages will blow you away, there's nothing to turn you off and as a whole, the entire creative team succeed in making involving, engaging and dramatic stories that hold up well and keep you entertained with every page. The stories here will not revolutionize your perceptions of the medium or lead to a paradigm shift in comics, a la Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns. But they will entertain you thoroughly.
A couple of further notes about the stories here and the Wally West Flash generally, which you might find intriguing. First is that, the Morrison/Millar team actually came on to write the Flash as a favor to then writer Mark Waid, who up to that time (around issue 130 or so of the series) was feeling a little bit of burnout. Rather than give up the title completely, Waid asked friends he thought he could really trust to take stewardship of the title for a while in order to give him some time to recharge his batteries. They did, and in so doing, wrote some of the most entertaining stories about Wally West that had been produced up to that time. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Morrison and Millar's stories were less focused on character than Waid's was, but ably played up the more science fiction and fantasy elements that have always been at the heart of some of the best kinds of Flash stories. They ended up being less personal types of stories about Wally West than those normally told by Waid, but they were in many cases, some of the more fun, "grander" tales that unashamedly played up their love of the character.
A second point to note, which might be of interest to fans, is that this current Flash, in the guise of Wally West, has recently been sidelined by DC comics, in favor of Wally's predecesor, Barry Allen. By the time these stories took place, Mark Waid had succeeded in making Wally West one of the most interesting, fully realized characters being published by DC. Like Dick Grayson of the Batman franchise, fans had seen Wally literally "grow up" in front of them, graduating from mere side-kick to honest to goodness, genuine, bona fide' headline superhero, with his own villains, personality, place on the Justice League, and who also came to eclipse the feats of his predecessor. It's unclear then why DC, who have made the unbelievably retrogressive step of resurrecting Barry, have done this. As some fans might know, Barry was supposed to have 'died' in the Crisis, and was comics first official saint, having been the one character in comics who died and who was never to be resurrected... until DC editorial nostalgia, and lack of common sense, resulted in the reversal of a policy that up to that time, had stood for nearly 20 years. It's a pretty strange policy because, Barry Allen is about as interesting as lint - even the series "resurrecting" him portrays him as an uptight old fart, which is about as much characterization as Barry was ever allowed to develop in all his years of being published. I like Barry Allen, but compared to Wally West, he's just not that interest. (Actually, the most interesting thing about Barry was that he was *supposed* to have "died" saving the universe in Crisis on infinite earths.)
The long and short of all this is that DC comics isn't publishing ongoing stories about Wally West at the moment, and although he still calls himself the Flash and has a (horrible) variation on the costume, the stories in volumes like Emergeny Stop and the Human Race, the companion trade paperback to this one, are now all the more special. If you like the Flash, comics generally, are a fan of Morrison's or Millar's work, and are looking for a solid collection of really excellent, entertaining stories about a superhero you can relate to, this volume is for you. My highest recommendation.