As one of the major changes in the ‘Infinite Frontier,’ Wally West is being set up as the Flash of Earth again. This status quo hasn’t been the case since 2008, when Barry Allen returned in the pages of “Final Crisis.” However, Wally isn’t quite there yet, and is currently on a journey through time, plugging holes in the Speed Force and maybe now being a non-corporeal entity? When “The Flash” sounds like Quantum Leap, things get really interesting.
Written by Jeremy Adams
Illustrated by Brandon Peterson and David LaFuente
Colored by Mike Atiyeh and Luis Guerrero
Lettered by Steve Wands
After an accident pushes Wally West into the time stream, the former Kid Flash lands in the body of his onetime partner, Impulse. Now sprinting through the 30th century side by side with the mysterious (and, yeah, ridiculous) Gold Beetle, Wally must uncover what’s causing the destructive explosions that keep propelling him through time and the bodies of other speedsters.
The elephant in the room for this issues is that this is neither Brandon Peterson nor David LaFuente’s finest work, and the art somewhat hinders what is an exceptionally fun story. That isn’t to say that it is unenjoyable, or even bad work, but the work does not feel as vibrant and full of movement as a Flash book should. Peterson handles the ‘present day’ sequence featuring Barry Allen, Oliver Queen, and Michael Holt, and while these scenes show the three men thinking on their toes and being an excellent team, the artwork never enhances those moments. Peterson’s pages feel staid and stiff, only really loosening up for one sequence. That sequence, where the trio needs to place something in a time capsule in the Flash museum, allows Peterson to lessen his grip a bit and allow some smiles and winks. If the rest of his pages had that sparkle, these sequences could have had a little more to them.
LaFuente’s art isn’t quite as stiff as Peterson’s, but still looks a little posed and blocky, without the fluidity and grace that speedster books really benefit from. What is good about his pages, however, is his work with Gold Beetle. Gold Beetle comes off as equal parts fangirl and partner, and struggles with the knowledge that she has about the future while still trying to help Wally out. Her character is well developed and a lot of fun, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of her.
Having Wally in Impulse/Bart Allen’s body is a bit of a mindfuck, but Jeremy Adams does a good job, through his dialogue, reminding us that this is Wally, and not Bart. But again, LaFuente’s art just isn’t dynamic enough for the characters we’re seeing. His Impulse seems to be more or less standing still most of the time, and where’s the fun in that?
But the art doesn’t hamper the story, which is really some top notch Flash comic booking. The time travel elements in this story are both logical and insane DC fun. Wally being a non-corporeal entity, leaping from speedster to speedster, is a really fun introductory arc. With Jay Garrick being the next leap, we’re going to get the umpteenth telling of the ‘Hitler has the Spear of Destiny’ story, but hey, it’s some JSA goodness, so let’s enjoy it.
One of the low-key joys of this issue is the interplay between the 21st century trio of The Flash (Barry), Green Arrow, and Mister Terrific. There is some good natured ribbing here, but also a lot of respect and attempting to allow each member to use their skills/resources to their highest potential. This feels very much like how the Justice League should operate, and Adams nails the interaction really well.
In fact, for a relatively new writer, Adams is incorporating a lot of DC miscellany incredibly well. This book reads really smoothly, with things like Dominators brought in without much fuss, and in a way that is fun for longtime readers, but doesn’t bog down a new reader with a ton of superfluous exposition. There’s so little explanation for who a Dominator is, but there doesn’t need to be. This is precisely how Big 2 comics thrive, by allowing the reader to go as deep as they want into the background characters and references, but not dedicating story space to those details unless necessary.
In this one issue, we get four generations of speedsters, some legacy characters, two centuries, the Flash Museum, a Dominator, and Oliver Queen. And yet, the issue doesn’t feel overstuffed or stretched too thin. Each page delivers new information, moves the story along, and doesn’t get bogged down in any one detail for too long. The issue feels substantial in a really satisfying way, requiring more time to read than so many Big 2 books, but is still fun and breezy.
Final Verdict: 7.1 – Despite some lackluster art, “The Flash” #769 continues to establish this new status quo as one of the most fun books of ‘Infinite Frontier.’