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By Francis Manapul Flash Volume 1: Move Forward HC
By Francis Manapul Flash Volume 1: Move Forward HC
by Francis Manapul
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Flash forward, 25 Jan. 2015
The stories running through issues #1-8 of the New 52’s The Flash comic are collected as The Flash Volume 1: Move Forward TP (The New 52). As with a modern TV series, there are the ‘stories of the day’ with the guest star/villain and the big budget effects, while the sub-plots and character development run through each episode, which is what drives the stories here. Among the sub-plots are such diverse elements as Barry and Patty Spivot’s growing romantic relationship; Barry and the Flash’s growing professional relationship with Iris West; Barry’s relationship with the Speed Force and Dr Elias the scientist helping him investigate it; the Speed Force apparently causing time warps when the Flash operates at full capacity, along with the occasional EMP burst; and a bright red uniform. There is also a sub-plot involving talking Gorillas, but that is scheduled for development in volume three, and there are also hints at a deep backstory involving Barry’s parents.

The ‘main’ stories, are actually so intertwined with the sub-plots above that the action doesn’t appear to stop, just the baddies change over, every few issues; the first ‘Mob Rule’ storyline, involving Barry’s childhood best friend runs for five issues, though Captain Cold and the Rogues make their prison break during issue #5, just as Iris is interviewing said Captain; then the Captain’s story runs through issues #6 & #7, though during #7 Iris, doing her best Lois Lane impression, manages to fall through one of the wormholes which have also been running through the stories, leading the Flash to use Dr Elias’s new ‘cosmic treadmill’ to leap through the light barrier into the Speed Force, which in issue #8 leads to a meeting with Turbine, who has been trapped in there since 1944, and wants to go home, and who may have been responsible for some of the turbulence in the storyline; we also get a few snapshots of Barry’s mysterious past.

All the above might sound complicated, but it all runs together seamlessly, each scene leading into the next, each plot-thread leading into the next, and things being revealed in a natural progression, which might not have been so noticeable if you were reading individual issues. And there’s a lot more going on than I have mentioned, but it all runs together in a continuous blur of movement; no seams are visible. The storytelling is a perfect Flash experience. My only complaint is one of personal taste, as the artwork was slightly too cartoony for me, but only slightly.


The Flash Vol. 2( Rogues Revolution (the New 52))[FLASH V02 FLASH VOL 2 ROGUES R][Hardcover]
The Flash Vol. 2( Rogues Revolution (the New 52))[FLASH V02 FLASH VOL 2 ROGUES R][Hardcover]
by FrancisManapul
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Rogues re-imagined without much imagination, 25 Jan. 2015
The story running through issues #9-12 of the New 52’s The Flash comic is collected, along with issue #0 and Annual #1, as Flash Volume 2: Rogue's Revolution TP (The New 52) (Flash (DC Comics Numbered)). I found this to be an uninspiring collection compared to the first volume for some reason. Fortunately, I read Library copies, so I haven’t spent money on it; however, I have spent time. The story opens in Gorilla City, where King Grodd has just come to power, and the Flash has dropped out of the speed force just in time for the victory banquet. He has lost his memory (the Flash that is), and the gorilla elders reveal the history (but not the mystery) of the speed force to him, which restores his memory of Iris and the others still trapped in the Force, who we then don’t see for the rest of the volume. Making his escape from Gorilla City, the Flash returns to Keystone City, where he looks for somewhere to live and work in his new life, Barry Allen now being believed to be dead. Would you believe his first job is in the very bar where the Rogues regularly rendezvous? Anyway, they have had a falling out over something Captain Cold has done to them (with the help of Doctor Elias, who is setting himself up as the next Lex Luthor), to boost their powers, and the rest of the book is the escalating battle between the Rogues, with the Flash and the Pied Piper caught in the middle, with a side order of Doctor Elias becoming an anti-vigilante crusader. This all keeps the Flash to busy to think about Iris and the others, though he does get to help Patty solve her cold case, though she joins the anti-vigilante crusade to show her thanks.

The story is actually quite reasonable, and the scripting is good; but the art is just too cartoony, which makes everyone look far too young, as if they are the cast of a Japanese animated cartoon. I suppose all the high-definition ultra-realistic artists are all busy on the Justice League and other Geoff Johns titles.

Anyway; after all my grumbling, it is still a readable comic book, but it could have been better.

Issue #0 looks at events surrounding the death of Barry Allen’s mother, the lightning flash that linked him to the speed force, his relationship with his father, and his links with Captain Frye, who adopted him after the murder.


The Flash Volume 3: Gorilla Warfare TP (The New 52) (Flash (DC Comics Numbered)): Written by Francis Manapul, 2014 Edition, (52nd edition) Publisher: DC Comics [Paperback]
The Flash Volume 3: Gorilla Warfare TP (The New 52) (Flash (DC Comics Numbered)): Written by Francis Manapul, 2014 Edition, (52nd edition) Publisher: DC Comics [Paperback]
by Francis Manapul
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Gorilla my dreams, 25 Jan. 2015
The story running through issues #13-19 of the New 52’s ‘The Flash’ comic is collected as The Flash Volume 3: Gorilla Warfare TP (The New 52). As with the previous volumes, there is an excellent mix of main story and ongoing sub-plots throughout the volume. There are two main stories; the first, a five-parter is “Gorilla Warfare”, which sees Gorilla Grodd and his army invade Central City in search of the Flash and the speed force. The Flash and the Rogues have to work together to rescue the threatened citizens, the gorilla from Barry’s childhood experience turns out to be an old friend, Iris and her companions lost in the speed-force find their way home, and the Trickster makes the mistake of trying to shake hands with Gorilla Grodd. The second, a two-part story involves the Trickster, who has been framed for a robbery-murder, the side effects of the speed-force on the people who were lost there, and the Outlanders, who have come to recue the Trickster from prison. This sees fluctuations in the speed-force, which is traced back to some of the people who were lost there manifesting speed-related abilities – all except Iris. Those old enough to remember the pre-Crisis Flash will remember where Iris’s family came from; I wonder if this is related… We also see Barry Trapped in prison armory without his speed abilities when the Outlanders attack – and nothing but the Rogue’s old weapons to fight back with.

This is an excellent Flash volume, with, as I said above, an excellent mixture of main story, sub-plot and character development. Even the artwork has improved over previous volumes, or else the story is so good that I have stopped noticing its defects. Apart from one – the little gold capsules that we see in the first issue turn out in the fifth issue to be really big capsules that contain the Gorillas. Something went awry with the perspective somewhere in that opening issue.

THE SPOILER ZONE
For a detailed breakdown of the individual issues collected in this volume, see The Flash Volume 3: Gorilla Warfare TP (The New 52).


The Flash Volume 4: Reverse TP (The New 52): Written by Francis Manapul, 2015 Edition, (52nd edition) Publisher: DC Comics [Paperback]
The Flash Volume 4: Reverse TP (The New 52): Written by Francis Manapul, 2015 Edition, (52nd edition) Publisher: DC Comics [Paperback]
by Francis Manapul
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Reversing the trend, 25 Jan. 2015
The story running through issues #20-25 of the New 52’s ‘The Flash’ comic is collected, along with issue 23.2, as The Flash Volume 4: Reverse HC (The New 52). This series started off quite nicely, though the second volume failed for me when ‘they’ decided to mess with the Rogues’ powers on the wrong principle of ‘bigger is better’. The third volume brought the story back on track, and this volume brings many of the ongoing plot lines to a, well ‘conclusion’ would not be quite the right word, but at least to a dramatic resolution, and opens the way forward for some of the other minor themes. There is also a ‘Zero Year’ issue set in Gotham City five years ago during the big blackout, in which Barry and Iris first meet, and definitely muddies the waters regarding Barry and Patty. And in case you missed it, the Rogues have had their own mini-series - Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion TP (The New 52), a spin-off from Forever Evil HC (The New 52) in the latter of which Captain Cold was prominent), all of which worked very well.

This volume sees the mystery of the Reverse-Flash revealed and resolved, the romantic triangle of Barry, Patty and Iris revealed and resolved, and the mystery of Barry’s family history (literally) brought out of the closet and set up for future investigation.

‘Reverse’ is a five-issue story, with issue #23.2 a sixth-episode slotted in to give us the back-story and origin of the Reverse-Flash. It is a fast-moving story (or even a non-stop one), as the Reverse-Flash attempts to collect into himself as much of the Speed-Force as he can - by killing all the people who were released from the Speed Force in the previous volume and absorbing their energy. Barry runs down Kid Flash in an attempt to look for speed-force-related clues - and Teen Titan readers will want to see the result; Iris West has a big part to play in this story, as we see her brother (who turned up in the previous volume) attempting a reconciliation with her, which then reveals a lot of their family history to us. However, to give nothing away, this Reverse-Flash wants to use the stolen speed-force to travel back in time to change an event in his past. There are several red-herrings planted to confuse you as to the identity of the Reverse-Flash, including one issue-opening scene that made me go “Ah, of course, he is the obvious candidate”; except he wasn’t; and at one point I even wondered if it was Barry’s father doing it.

Anyway, this really is a superb Flash story, and I have even begun to appreciate the cartoony artwork - for during the story, I began to remember the Flash stories from my childhood, drawn by Carmine Infantino, and suddenly realised just how similar this Flash and the original (Silver-Age one) are.

THE SPOILER ZONE
For a detailed description of the individual issues collected in this volume, see The Flash Volume 4: Reverse HC (The New 52).


Flash (Vol 6) # 24 (Ref-1985210591)
Flash (Vol 6) # 24 (Ref-1985210591)
by DC Comics
Edition: Comic

5.0 out of 5 stars Reverse 5/5, 25 Jan. 2015
The story running through issues #20-25 of the New 52's `The Flash' comic is collected, along with issue 23.2, as The Flash Volume 4: Reverse HC (The New 52). For a review of the full storylines running through the individual issues, follow that link.

Issue #24 opens in the past, as the Reverse-Flash attempts to kill his then-abusive father, hoping that it will free him from the years of separation from his sister Iris, which he blames on the outcome of the incident that he is trying to change. However, Iris and her brother in the past can only see a "monster" attacking their father...


Flash (Vol 6) # 23 (Ref165583397)
Flash (Vol 6) # 23 (Ref165583397)
by DC Comics
Edition: Comic

5.0 out of 5 stars Reverse 4/5, 25 Jan. 2015
The story running through issues #20-25 of the New 52's `The Flash' comic is collected, along with issue 23.2, as The Flash Volume 4: Reverse HC (The New 52). For a review of the full storylines running through the individual issues, follow that link.

Issue #23 opens with the Flash fighting the Reverse-Flash in Dr. Elias's laboratory. At Police HQ, Patty's DNA sequencer reveals the owner of the DNA sample found on last issue's debris. Iris is horrified... The Reverse-Flash explains that he is collecting the speed-force in order to travel back in time and change an event in his past. Flash leads the Reverse-Flash out of the city, pursued by Dr Elias (with a big gun), and Iris, who has been shocked into releasing the speed-force, and arrives at the final scene just as [spoiler] is draining the Flash of his power...


Flash #23.2 (Reverse-Flash #1 3D Motion Cover) 1st Printing
Flash #23.2 (Reverse-Flash #1 3D Motion Cover) 1st Printing
by Francis Manapul Brian Buccellato
Edition: Comic

5.0 out of 5 stars Issue 23.2, 25 Jan. 2015
The story running through issues #20-25 of the New 52’s ‘The Flash’ comic is collected, along with issue 23.2, as The Flash Volume 4: Reverse HC (The New 52). For a review of the full storylines running through the individual issues, follow that link.

Issue #23.2 reveals how the Reverse-Flash got his powers - during the Gorilla invasion in the previous volume, he was rescued by the Rogues and taken into the Mirror world, where, trying to escape, he crashed into one of Dr Elias’s speed-force-powered devices and was catapulted back into the real world, along with the debris found in issue #22, but now changed into the Reverse-Flash. We also see Iris and her brother Daniel’s back story, with an abusive father, a protective brother and an incident at the top of the stairs… Now, with enough speed-force, Daniel hopes to go back in time and change the outcome, blaming the past for the character flaws that are driving him in the present.


Flash (Vol 6) # 21 (Ref1465689721)
Flash (Vol 6) # 21 (Ref1465689721)
by DC Comics
Edition: Comic

5.0 out of 5 stars Reverse 2/5, 25 Jan. 2015
The story running through issues #20-25 of the New 52’s ‘The Flash’ comic is collected, along with issue 23.2, as The Flash Volume 4: Reverse HC (The New 52). For a review of the full storylines running through the individual issues, follow that link.

Issue #21 sees the Flash in pursuit of the Kid Flash, and discovering some of his secret background history as a result. Mixed in with this is Iris West meeting up with her brother, who is trying to reconcile with her, and we discover that there is/was a serious problem with their father that led to Daniel leaving home. The third strand is Gomez, the last of the speed-force affected people meeting the Reverse-Flash…


The Flash Volume 4: Reverse HC (The New 52)
The Flash Volume 4: Reverse HC (The New 52)
by Brian Buccellato
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Reversing the trend, 25 Jan. 2015
The story running through issues #20-25 of the New 52's `The Flash' comic is collected, along with issue 23.2, as The Flash Volume 4: Reverse HC (The New 52). This series started off quite nicely, though the second volume failed for me when `they' decided to mess with the Rogues' powers on the wrong principle of `bigger is better'. The third volume brought the story back on track, and this volume brings many of the ongoing plot lines to a, well `conclusion' would not be quite the right word, but at least to a dramatic resolution, and opens the way forward for some of the other minor themes. There is also a `Zero Year' issue set in Gotham City five years ago during the big blackout, in which Barry and Iris first meet, and definitely muddies the waters regarding Barry and Patty. And in case you missed it, the Rogues have had their own mini-series - Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion TP (The New 52), a spin-off from Forever Evil HC (The New 52) in the latter of which Captain Cold was prominent), all of which worked very well.

This volume sees the mystery of the Reverse-Flash revealed and resolved, the romantic triangle of Barry, Patty and Iris revealed and resolved, and the mystery of Barry's family history (literally) brought out of the closet and set up for future investigation.

`Reverse' is a five-issue story, with issue #23.2 a sixth-episode slotted in to give us the back-story and origin of the Reverse-Flash. It is a fast-moving story (or even a non-stop one), as the Reverse-Flash attempts to collect into himself as much of the Speed-Force as he can - by killing all the people who were released from the Speed Force in the previous volume and absorbing their energy. Barry runs down Kid Flash in an attempt to look for speed-force-related clues - and Teen Titan readers will want to see the result; Iris West has a big part to play in this story, as we see her brother (who turned up in the previous volume) attempting a reconciliation with her, which then reveals a lot of their family history to us. However, to give nothing away, this Reverse-Flash wants to use the stolen speed-force to travel back in time to change an event in his past. There are several red-herrings planted to confuse you as to the identity of the Reverse-Flash, including one issue-opening scene that made me go "Ah, of course, he is the obvious candidate"; except he wasn't; and at one point I even wondered if it was Barry's father doing it.

Anyway, this really is a superb Flash story, and I have even begun to appreciate the cartoony artwork - for during the story, I began to remember the Flash stories from my childhood, drawn by Carmine Infantino, and suddenly realised just how similar this Flash and the original (Silver-Age one) are.

THE SPOILER ZONE
THE SPOILER ZONE
THE SPOILER ZONE

Issue #20 begins with the Reverse-Flash killing another holder of the Speed-Force, and with Barry and Patty moving in together. Barry gives Patty the case file on his other's murder and tells her to hide it away, as it is time for them to move forward; As if... Back at work, Barry, having been declared dead in a previous volume, is now relegated to the cold-case room in the basement, where a clue to the first murder of one of the speed-force people soon presents itself. After trying to find the third speed-force character, who we saw in the previous volume playing at being a costumed hero (and not doing to well), and having to rescue a crashing subway train as a result, Barry finds another clue that reveals the killer-to be wearing a reversed-Flash lightning symbol. Barry decides to go and look for Kid Flash, who is the only other person to wear the Flash symbol that he knows...

Issue #21 sees the Flash in pursuit of the Kid Flash, and discovering some of his secret background history as a result. Mixed in with this is Iris West meeting up with her brother, who is trying to reconcile with her, and we discover that there is/was a serious problem with their father that led to Daniel leaving home. The third strand is Gomez, the last of the speed-force affected people meeting the Reverse-Flash...

Issue #22 opens with Barry at the latest crime-scene, while Doctor Darwin Elias inspects his speed-force collection... The Flash then visits Iris West, another person who was trapped in the Speed-Force dimension (along with Barry Allen) but who hasn't demonstrated any speed-force powers. The Flash gives her a `Flash' costume to wear, which he thinks is blocking the reverse-Flash from detecting them. "Barry" has already been hidden away somewhere for safe keeping. Flash and Iris find some debris that is emitting speed-force radiation, and Patty is able to find Dr. Elias's fingerprints on it. Leaving Iris with Patty at Police HQ, Barry goes to confront Elias, and finds the Reverse Flash...

Issue #23 opens with the Flash fighting the Reverse-Flash in Dr. Elias's laboratory. At Police HQ, Patty's DNA sequencer reveals the owner of the DNA sample found on last issue's debris. Iris is horrified... The Reverse-Flash explains that he is collecting the speed-force in order to travel back in time and change an event in his past. Flash leads the Reverse-Flash out of the city, pursued by Dr Elias (with a big gun), and Iris, who has been shocked into releasing the speed-force, and arrives at the final scene just as [spoiler] is draining the Flash of his power...

Issue #23.2 reveals how the Reverse-Flash got his powers - during the Gorilla invasion in the previous volume, he was rescued by the Rogues and taken into the Mirror world, where, trying to escape, he crashed into one of Dr Elias's speed-force-powered devices and was catapulted back into the real world, along with the debris found in issue #22, but now changed into the Reverse-Flash. We also see Iris and her brother Daniel's back story, with an abusive father, a protective brother and an incident at the top of the stairs... Now, with enough speed-force, Daniel hopes to go back in time and change the outcome, blaming the past for the character flaws that are driving him in the present.

Issue #24 opens in the past, as the Reverse-Flash attempts to kill his then-abusive father, hoping that it will free him from the years of separation from his sister Iris, which he blames on the outcome of the incident that he is trying to change. However, Iris and her brother in the past can only see a "monster" attacking their father...

Issue #25 - "Starting Line" - sees newly graduated forensic scientist Barry Allen on loan to Gotham City during the Riddler's blackout - see DC Comics Zero Year HC (The New 52) (Batman) for more. Barry and Harvey Bullock are tracking down a new drug being distributed, and during the course of the investigation, they get involved with Iris West, interning at a drug rehabilitation clinic dealing with the addicts of said drug. A spark is lit...


Avengers Vol. 1: Rogue Planet: Written by Jonathan Hickman, 2014 Edition, Publisher: Panini UK Ltd / Marvel [Paperback]
Avengers Vol. 1: Rogue Planet: Written by Jonathan Hickman, 2014 Edition, Publisher: Panini UK Ltd / Marvel [Paperback]
by Jonathan Hickman
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Just one Crisis after another, 25 Jan. 2015
The stories from issues #24-28 of The Avengers (volume 5) are collected as Avengers Vol. 1: Rogue Planet (Panini UK edition – “Adapt or Die”). This is a continuation of the mega/meta storyline set in motion by the breaking of the space/time continuum in Age of Ultron, which has led to the collapse of the multiverse as seen in recent volumes of the New Avengers, and the galactic war in the previous volume of Avengers. This volume sees AIM poking at the collapsing multiverse with a very big stick, prefaced by a sort of stand alone story that sees an Iron Man from the year 3030AD popping back in time to change the course of history as a rogue planet comes hurtling towards Earth, and a concluding story, in which Bruce Banner uses an ‘artefact’ provided by AIM to push his way into the Illuminati. “Where does a half-ton Hulk sit on the bus? Wherever he wants to…”

The story in the middle-three issues has AIM finding an original Avengers team on a dying parallel Earth and accidentally unleashing them on New York, then trying to cover everything up with a new team of Super-Adaptoids. However, the resulting dead Avenger is big news, and Maria Hill is on a short fuse of late with the Avengers: “Exactly where were all of you three hours ago?”

As it turns out, these are evil Avengers, would you believe it, and another big fight kicks off with the real Avengers, but AIM have a secret weapon that lets them steal their Avengers back. What they don’t know is that Bruce Banner has swapped places with his counterpart… which comes in handy in that final issue where a Bruce gets into the Illuminati.

The story is excellently illustrated, and undoubtedly well-scripted, but I found that there is a strange sense of dullness to it all, as if the overshadowing events are squashing all the fun out of these Avengers storylines. This is strange, as Jonathan Hickman came to this title from a brilliant run on the Fantastic Four, which as far as I am concerned, put him on the same shelf as John Byrne and Stan and Jack in the ranks of FF writers. This series however seems closer to his work on the “Manhattan Projects”. The problem here might be the number of major characters involved who have their own continuity. The Avengers have always worked best when the big guns were kept out of the way and the minor characters took centre stage (i.e. those who didn’t have their own books). This still gets four stars though.

CONTINUITY POLICE REPORT:
The latest volume of Secret Avengers saw a coup on AIM Island, an island which didn’t look like the one in this book.

The latest series of the Indestructible Hulk has Banner working for SHIELD – though that series has just come to an abrupt end with Maria Hill shooting him in the head.

How will these stories fit in with this one? Time will tell; unless it is still broken…

THE SPOILER ZONE
For a detailed description of the individual issues collected here, see Avengers Vol. 1: Rogue Planet (Panini UK edition – “Adapt or Die”).


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