The Flash #23 Review

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The Flash #23 Review
‘In Reverse: Part 4’

Co-writer and Colourist: Brian Buccellato
Co-writer and Artist: Francis Manapul
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover Art: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato

A review by Jake Morris.

The Flash describes the assembling of a hero’s rogue gallery like so; “bad guy tries to do a bad thing, good guy stops him… and bad guy hates him for it.” That is a linear way of looking at it but as far as Flash goes, his nemeses have grown in number throughout the years as he continues to be a thorn in their side. As Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul have introduced this new incarnation of the Reverse Flash, it has been debated as to what the villain’s motives are and who exactly he is… By the end of this issue, all would be revealed and I suspect many will not have seen it coming.

The past issues in this arc have been more or less about investigation, with Flash looking for the mysterious ‘Speed Force Killer’. With the story arc reaching a conclusion in the next two issues, it was finally time for the hero and villain to meet and let the fighting begin. Flash and Reverse Flash finally duking it out across a multitude of pages.

Both Manapul and Buccellato have shown strength in their character, relationship and world building but up to now, the action has not been very prominent, or focal. This issue they showcase that strength immensely. The fighting between the two characters is raw but the art is so beautifully crafted that even when Flash is dealt a brutal blow, you cannot help but just admire the conviction.

The story begins rigidly as it looks to be just a slobberknocker but as we reach the eventual unmasking of Reverse Flash’s identity the issue amps up in emotional connection as characters become more involved. Iris and Patty have their moment to bring a sense of awkwardness to proceedings as again, the eventual love triangle heats up and although it felt more forced than usual this issue, it allowed a few short breaks from the action. Which I felt was a wise move for the story as it gave the issue chance to breathe and prevented the action from becoming stale.

They say that it takes an artist time to become accustomed to who or what they are drawing and although Francis Manapul has worked on The Flash before the New 52, I truly think his work on the Scarlet Speedster has never been better. The artwork gels from panel to panel, flowing with real skill. The pencil work only further improved by Brian Buccellato’s colouring. In this issue, Buccellato is on top form and gives every page a definitively exciting look with expert shading that shows off dynamic poses from both villain and hero. The Speed Force effects are gorgeous and any sense of static in the art is washed away with beautiful shades of red and movement being further exploited by dashes of electrical effects. The colouring also captured a unique way in displaying who was gaining the upper hand as purple tinted the page under Reverse Flash’s dominance but the ever present red, orange and yellow taking hold as Flash fought back. Both artist’s understand of layout and panel work shows expertly as the co-writing duties compliment the artwork expertly.

The angle in which Reverse Flash is approached from, as a treacherous villain who will get the job done in any way possible, is a nice change for a Flash villain. However Dr. Elias more or less became a side character and an annoyance for the story. His only purpose being that he influenced the end of the issue which lessened the actions value.

Nevertheless, the conclusion to the story looks to be heading in a not so happy place for Flash which might even result in one or two major casualties but one thing is for certain; this book continues to be a beautifully crafted book between two creators who clearly have a real passion for the story in which they are telling.

4/5

Jake is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @JakeUtd.

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