Thursday, April 10, 2014

Flash #93

Reckless Youth Chapter 2 Quick Study

Mark Waid, Story
Carlos Pacheco, Guest Pencils
Jose Marzan, Jr. & Ken Branch, Inks
Gaspar, Letterer
Gina Going, Colorist
Ruben Diaz, Assistant Editor
Brian Augustyn, Editor

We're only two issues in, and we already have a guest penciller. Luckily, Carlos Pacheco is a very solid artist, and if I didn't know better, I probably could have been convinced that Mike Wieringo actually drew this issue. Wieringo did, at least, do the cover with Jose Marzan Jr., and it is a pretty fun cover. The representation of Bart punching Wally a bunch of times is a little odd — it looks like electrons in an atom. But I actually kind of like it. Also of note is the phrase "Brash Impulse!" This is the first time Bart has been referred to as Impulse, although he will not officially take that name in this issue.

Before I get into the story, I want to explain how Bart Allen is related to Wally West. At the start of this issue, Wally refers to Bart as a "blood relation," but that is not technically accurate. Iris Allen is Wally's aunt, but she was adopted by Ira and Nadine West. So Bart and Wally are only related by law. And as far as I can tell, they are first cousins once removed. Here's a little simplified family tree:

    Ira West
Iris  —  Rudy
   |             |
Don     Wally

Iris' adoptive brother is Rudy, who is the father of Wally. Iris' son, Don, is first cousins by law with Wally, which makes Don's son, Bart, Wally's first cousin once removed. Hope that makes sense. You can find the full Allen-West family tree here. Just a warning, though, that family tree includes everybody, so don't let it intimidate you. Now on to our story.

We pick right up where we left off last issue, where Wally has found Bart, but is now being attacked by the 2-year-old in the body of a 12-year-old. After taking a few hundred punches to the face, Flash finally strikes back, knocking Bart flat on his butt. And then Bart says his first words in the DC Universe: "What ... what'd you do that for?" Bart, however, doesn't wait for Wally's answer, and immediately takes off again.

Elsewhere, Linda Park is finishing her shift at the news station. As soon as she opens her car door, she finds its been filled with cobras. And to make matters worse, a ninja wearing a green cobra outfit has sprung out of the shadows to attack her. Luckily, Linda is saved by a guy wearing a purple suit named Argus. I'm unfamiliar with Argus, so I took a quick peek at my DC Encyclopedia. Apparently his real name is Nick Kovak, and he has the ability to disappear in shadows and see beyond the normal spectrum, hence the name Argus from the Greek mythological guardian with 100 eyes. Argus is an ally of the Flash, but they aren't necessarily friends.

Argus tells Linda the serpent cult just wants her story notes, and Linda realizes all her notes are back at Wally's house, where Iris Allen is alone. Linda hops onto the back of Argus' motorcycle and uses her cellphone to call the Pied Piper and tell him to meet them at Wally's house with his nastiest hardware. Now the Pied Piper is someone I know. His real name is Hartley Rathaway, and he once used his abilities to manipulate sound waves for criminal purposes. But he became good friends with Wally, and has since become a good guy. I also have to say I'm rather impressed to see Linda using a cellphone in 1994. I didn't think they were widely used back then, but I guess a successful TV reporter like Linda would have the latest technology.

We cut back to Wally and Bart, who are continuing their chase around the world as they pass through Paris, Bart ages from 12 to 14. And let me give props to Carlos Pacheco for managing to draw Paris without including the Eiffel Tower. He chose instead to draw the Notre Dame cathedral, which is a nice change of pace. But Wally doesn't spend any time in Paris to enjoy the sights — he needs to save Bart before he dies of old age. As they pass through Philadelphia, Bart hits the runner's wall, and starts to seize up. Wally remembers what it was like to adapt to super speed in a developing teenage body, and he knows that Bart has to fight through this exhaustion. If he doesn't, the sudden shock of power to his body could kill him.

Linda and Argus then arrive at Wally's house, and are immediately attacked by another ninja. Argus is knocked out, but Pied Piper arrives and blasts the ninja away with a hypersonic gun. They take Argus inside and are joined by Iris, who is now wearing a Wile E. Coyote shirt. Hey, DC and Warner Bros. are part of the same company, so why not? Piper then starts to create a force field to protect the house, but none of them notice another ninja has teleported inside.

Wally keeps chasing Bart and urging him to keep running. When he sees the teen start to falter, Wally tries to give him a bit of a push, but then immediately panics that he may have done the wrong thing.

Back at Wally's house, the ninja begins his attack. He quickly knocks out Hartley, and begins chasing the two women around. A second ninja soon teleports inside, and Linda and Iris find themselves surrounded. But right before the killing blow can be delivered, a blur rushes in and takes out the two ninjas. The blur, of course, is Bart, who immediately hugs his grandmother and tells her he's alright. Wally joins the party a little late and explains that Bart's power has more or less stabilized. He says that the only way to take control of super speed is to let it out full-throttle — not to keep it contained like Bart was his whole life. Wally says that when Bart finally maxed out, the very air around hi caught fire. But like a phoenix from the ashes, he stepped out safe, sound, and changed for the better.

Wally then turns his attention to the ninjas, who suddenly teleport away. Another one reappears in their place, announcing himself as Kobra's lieutenant. He says they've confiscated Linda's research, and if any of them meddle again, he'll kill them all. As he teleports away, Bart charges after him, and Wally notes that the kid's brain works purely on impulse. But soon, both the ninja and Bart are gone.

Now that was another amazing issue by Mark Waid. It was fun, exciting and intriguing. All the stuff with Bart was great, and the Kobra stuff is really starting to heat up. The timing with Linda's story does still feel a bit off. So Wally went off to find Bart, then Linda went to work, did her story on the air, then finished her shift and came home, all before Wally had finished saving Bart. How long did it take Wally and Bart to do their thing? I figured the two of them would have been moving at super speed, and they could have accomplished all that in a matter of minutes. But for Linda to have time to do all her stuff, they would have had to been running around for several hours at least.

It made a lot of sense that Wally, who once was a teenaged speedster, would know how to help Bart. I  wasn't sure what I was expecting, but I do admit to being a little disappointed with how Wally actually saved Bart. But that most likely is the art's fault. Wally gave a beautiful description of the air catching fire and Bart rising from it like a phoenix, but all we saw was an ambiguous green lightning scene. Carlos Pacheco did a great job filling in for Mike Wieringo, but he did a poor job of showing things that Mark Waid had to tell us. Like having Bart age from 12 to 14. I couldn't notice any difference with how Bart was drawn before and after that moment. And realistically, there is a big difference between a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy. But these problems didn't make this issue any less enjoyable. I just think it could have been a bit better.

Next time, we'll head to September 1994 to conclude Reckless Youth in Flash #94. But also in that month, Bart appeared in five other issues — New Titans #114 and four of the Zero Hour issues.

No comments:

Post a Comment