The Flash Vol. 1 Lighting Strikes Twice Review
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Carmine Di Giandomenico, Neil Googe, Felipe Watanabe, Andrew Currie, Oclair Albert
Letterer: Steve Wands
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
A review by Robert Coffil
Rebirth (the not-a-reboot, reboot) has revitalized DC. The second half of the year, the top 300 list was dominated by DC books all while putting out fewer titles than Marvel. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about, so I picked up The Flash Vol. 1 Lighting Strikes Twice.
Joshua Williamson is a writer I’m a fan of. His Image book Birthright is a delight to read each month. Also, his book Frostbite has been a gem in a resurgent Vertigo line. Can he successfully make the jump from creator owned writer to a big two writer? I would like to think the answer to that is yes, but this Flash isn’t the best display of his talents.
As a collection of comics, the trade is par for the course. Glue binding and variant covers in the back. I will say it does have a whopping nine issues in it and retailing at 17.99, that is a win. My one complaint is that there are no interviews or essays about the book. I love collections that add something to comic, but nine issues of content sort of makeup for that. And of course, there is a misprint. The trade credits Di Giandomenico on an issue when it is clearly his fill-in artist.
My first problem with this book is the first issue. Why is the Rebirth: Flash issue in this book? Without the Rebirth issue itself, this book lacks context for Wally being part of the Speed Force and him floating around. It is very retro-DC that the connection between Barry and Wally is what draws Wally to Barry, but because the Rebirth issue isn’t included, it lacks context. And even though Wally is in the first issue you don’t see that iteration of Wally again in the next eight issues. Furthermore, the events that happen in the Rebirth: Flash issue bear no impact on what happens in the next eight issues. For this trade to read better, it would need to do one of two things: include the Rebirth issue, or not have Rebirth: Flash in it.
The next chunk of eight issue read like a straight revitalization of Flash. The thematic lynchpin of these issues is the idea that Barry, even as the fastest man on earth, can’t do all the good he would like too. Thematically, it is hit on at least once an issue and serves as a nice grounding for the comic. I loved the team of Iris, (Black) Wally, August, Dena and all the speedsters. Barry can sometimes come across as a little too earnest, but it is his cohort of teammates that add a nice leveling out to his personality.
The framework of the story works, but the actual execution doesn’t wow me. Over the course of eight issues, we get one long arc being told. The first three issues set up a mystery, the end of the third/beginning of the fourth make you think its been solved. The fifth issue is a fake-out. The conclusion of one threat has revealed a bigger threat and the final three issues are a resolution to that threat. Stylistically, this story has a nice design. The dialogue and some of the page turns seem perfunctory without blowing me away narratively. What did blow me away was the Carmine Di Giandomenico art, at least at the beginning.
The art of Giandomenico starts off wonderful. He draws Flash crackling with energy and you can tell what the mood the Flash is in because the running emotes. It’s small and if you buzz through the book you will miss it. However, if you look at the posture while he is running you can tell his mood. I really enjoyed that. In the beginning of the book (the first three issues), Giandomenico’s panel work, and storytelling are interesting. He has nice framing shots and he is dynamic in his panel design. In the latter half of the volume, Giandomenico’s storytelling is straightforward. This is where the double shipping of the books are hurting the overall art of comics. Sure, the comics are out and they are selling, but some of the artistry is lost due to the necessity of a shorter period to work on the books. I will say, the character work of Williamson is better (because you know the characters more, they have been developed) so even though the art doesn’t pop as much as it did in the first half the story propels you forward.
What killed the momentum of the book was the fill-in artist. I know this is the modern cure of comics and double shipping books twice about, but the fill-in artist on this book doesn’t work. It’s not that the art is bad, it isn’t, it that the stylistically they are dramatically different. Felipe Watanabe and his team of inkers don’t carry that same kinetic energy that’s on the page when Giandomenico draws.
Skip it. Unless you are a hardcore, die hard Flash fan, you can pass on The Flash Vol. 1 Lighting Strikes Twice. In an industry where great comics are coming out on a weekly basis, this one just isn’t up to snuff. I saw the twist coming in the third issue of the series. The inclusion of Flash Rebirth without the actual Rebirth issue doesn’t provide the story continuity that you need. Like I stated earlier in the review, either include the Rebirth issue or take the Flash Rebirth out because the Rebirth issues add nothing to the story and lack context. Giandomenico’s storytelling suffers in the last three issues. It doesn’t have the same dynamic storytelling that it has in the first three issues. The panel design and layout goes from some really interesting panel layouts to splash pages and straightforward panels.