Wally West is done being the Flash. Tired with the catastrophic life of the Speedster, Wally enlists Barry Allen's help to cut him off from the speed force and return him to civilian life. In the attempt, Wally finds himself inhabiting the body of a prehistoric speedster while Barry, Green Arrow, and Mr. Terrific desperately try and find a way to bring Wally back home.
While the premise seems to just promise more misery for the eternally unlucky Wally West, writer Jeremy Adams and a revolving cast of high-profile artists succeed at bringing the fun back to Wally West's world in The Flash #768 (opens in new tab).
Written by Jeremy Adams
Art by Brandon Peterson, Marco Santucci, David Lafuente, Mike Atiyeh, Arif Pranto, and Luis Guerrero
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Writer Jeremy Adams is relatively new on the block. Coming from an impressive resume in TV and animation, Adams wrote a couple 'Future State' back-ups and immediately makes an impact here in an ongoing debut with some seriously old-school sensibilities. Wally spends the bulk of the issue zipping around prehistoric Earth, yabba-dabba-doing down a Diplodocus and accidentally infecting a ferocious velociraptor with the speed force. It's purposefully nostalgic stuff, evoking lazy childhood Saturdays spent sprawled across the bedroom floor with a handful of freshly bought issues from the dollar bin.
Writing with all the subtlety of a hammer, Adams doesn't shy away from covering the page in the kind of technobabble that would make even the Star Trek: The Next Generation (opens in new tab) writer's room blush, and his thoughts about the motives of the speed force aren't exactly explored in the most elegant way. Still, there's real energy and imagination to Adams' tightly paced script, even if his dialogue and plot beats feel a little dusty.
Adams maintains a light-hearted tone throughout, sprinkling in little jokes between Green Arrow and Barry Allen's arguments, with Arrow desperately trying to avoid another inevitably grim ending for Wally West. He roots the emotional heart of his story in this battle. This isn't a story about Wally West himself - his decision has been made. This is a story about those who have failed Wally before. His friends are desperately trying to save him from further harm, even if they disagree exactly how that can be achieved. Jeremy Adams' hopeful tone suggests that this arc is going to be one of reconnection, between Wally, his powers, and his support group.
Coming fresh off Joshua Williamson's celebratory victory lap with The Flash, this is an okay start. The episodic nature of the time-hopping premise lends itself well to single issues. Adams also reintroduces Gold Beetle in the issue's cliff-hanger, who we first saw in the back pages of Future State: Suicide Squad (opens in new tab). A cross between Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, she has all the ingredients for a fun break-out character in the Gwenpool vein.
Visually, this is an inconsistent book. With art duties shared across four distinct artists, The Flash #768 struggles to hold together a cohesive look. David Lafuente's bubbly style best matches Adams' affinity for light-hearted adventure, with Marco Santucci's uber-realism making for a jarring contrast for the book's middle. Brandon Peterson kicks off the issue, but a peculiar habit of physically separating figures from the background with two incredibly thick lines gives his pages the feel of a cardboard diorama. Even stranger, on the second page, Steve Wands' letters literally bisects Superman's head, perhaps betraying a too-tight deadline forced upon a usually meticulous letterer.
These rough edges dull what should be a triumphant debut for a new high-profile creative team. Fingers crossed that DC hammers down a regular art team for The Flash as it continues, as Adams' script deserves the visual cohesiveness that comes from a single artist. Plot-wise, Adams knows exactly the kind of book he wants to write, racing from ridiculous set-piece to ridiculous set-piece as Wally West tries to free himself from the speed force for good. The Flash #768 suffers from some serious teething issues, but its dedication to fulfilling adventure is infectious.
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