I don’t like The Flash. The idea is ridiculous, he looks ridiculous, all things Flash seem completely…silly. That said, I was bumming around Amazon and the Interweb in general and noticed people complaining that The Flash was too dark and not kid-friendly. I though to myself, by his very nature The Flash is a very bright and sunny kids comic. So this intrigued me and I noticed someone complaining that Johns was defiling the squeaky clean image of The Flash with things like lips being sewed shut and faces being ripped off (or something like that) in the stories. This made me even more curious. So I downloaded the Lightning in a Bottle arc (issues 164-167) to check it out.
Silly me, it isn’t that dark or interesting. Very typical superhero stuff actually.
That said, what did surprise me was Geoff Johns’ ability to tell a convoluted story clearly. Despite my realizations of the above within the first issue, I kept on because the writing had me hooked on the plot. I was drawn in and finished the arc even though I thought so much of it was so silly. That’s a testament to the writing and I can see why Geoff Johns’ is a fan favorite. He doesn’t dwell on the goofiness of The Flash’s rogues (which are entirely far too stupid and outdated to still be around — in fact they are the biggest evidence of this title’s deep need to be re-tooled), he just has them showing up and doing stuff. It is done well with a ‘take them or leave them’ attitude. There’s no heavy-handed attempt at justifying or rationalizing their existence in our modern minds.
The plot itself involving a mirror-world, basically opposite of our own would’ve been much sillier (that word looks wrong) with someone like Waid (the writer GJ replaces starting with 164) at the helm. I give Geoff props for making it as interesting as he did.
One thing that really stood out were the similarities to some late 80′s comics of a darker tone. For instance, the whole superhero-in-jail scenario felt a lot like Batman’s situation in Dark Knight Returns, although I can’t think of specifics. Also, the face of the head cop looked so much like the bad guy in Sin City’s Family Values. Otherwise the art was overly cartoony where it worked well like when Flash’s face gets slammed against stuff. I suppose the way this is done today isn’t too much different but it is just so much more annoying when the current titles do it. Probably because most of Marvel’s stuff nowadays contains so many teenagers. That didn’t make any sense. Sorry, can’t really explain it I guess.
Overall it was actually a quick and kinda fun read. My first and last The Flash comics. I guess I had to at least give them a chance…errr wait, I guess things get “darker” later and the character is reinvented…or something, I guess I’ll have to get those to see what they’re like. Expect an update…sometime.