‘In Reverse: Part Four’
Writers: Brian Buccellato & Francis Manapul
Artist: Francis Manapul
Colourist: Brian Buccellato
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Cover Art: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
A review by Jake Morris.
In what feels like an age since the Flash made an appearance at comic book stores on a Wednesday, October brings us the final chapter in the ‘In Reverse’ arc. Much of the title’s status quo has shifted since the story began, including a handful of deaths and some character revelations and with the final issue, Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul look to tie it all up in a neat little bow.
Right from the moment the issue begins no time is spared in prepping readers after the short hiatus and instead thrusts the action right at you. The pages are a whirlwind, with more emotion crammed into them than a wedding speech. However after the amount of build up of past issues, such an overpowering frequency of emotion is welcome and truly ramps up the stakes.
Reverse Flash, now fully identified as Iris’ somewhat psychotic brother Daniel, has accomplished his goal of travelling back in time with the intent of murdering his own father. Daniel’s frame of mind, clearly affected by the Speed Force, has blocked his vision of how critical tampering with the past is, and his lack of understanding is bookended nicely by narration from Barry throughout the remainder of the issue.
What is most interesting of how Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul tackle the final part in the story, is how quickly they do end the battle between not only Flash and Reverse Flash, but also the past sequences. Just as thick and fast as they arrived, they end, and leave readers with an epilogue of sorts.
It seems that with the duo’s recent announcement in their leaving of the book, the last two thirds set out to round off their overall telling of Barry’s adventures. Once you realise this, these pages become all the more valuable as you sense everything could change in the coming months. If one thing is to be taken away from these final moments, it is that Buccellato and Manapul have given any new writers a comfortable place to tell a story. Their love for the character and his world shines through.
Symbolism has always been a constant in The Flash’s New 52 run and this issue is no exception. The patterns that convey comparisons between two characters or situations arises often and here in the latest issue we see a glimpse at how time is judged differently by others and the value of it in the larger picture. Just as Barry explains how sometimes you need to slow down and savour certain moments, Iris decides to leave the visitation period earlier than would be expected when visiting her brother in prison. Subtle moments like those add depth to what is usually known as a lighthearted title.
As far as the artwork goes? The amount of praise heaped upon both creators is as much earned and deserved as any praise someone in business is likely to get. Both Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato really set out to deliver a powerful issue with twenty four and they do not disappoint. Manapul’s portrayal of Reverse Flash as he becomes a hulking monstrous sized figure as he craves his wants and desires is pencilled viciously. The notion that Daniel West becomes such a huge frame is interesting as he identifies similar in stature to that of Grodd. Despite the gap in regular releases being due to Villain’s Month, the high calibre of work here warrants any form of break anyway. The panels are structured beautifully with the work chiselled in such a wide array of layouts. Both Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are a match that works perfectly, symmetrical and a compliment to each other.
The final chapter in the final arc from both creators is a solemn affair in the end, full of messages that have resonated increasingly more by The Flash as the character has grown in the past two years. Issue twenty four subtly moved the Flash into a new era for new writers while delivering a tour de force in the blending of art and writing.
Jake is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @JakeUtd.