Sunday, June 1, 2014

Flash #96

Terminal Velocity Mach Two: All the Wrong Moves

Mark Waid, Story
Salvador Larroca, Pencils
Jose Marzan, Jr., Inks
Gaspar, Letters
Gina Going, Colors
Ruben Diaz, Assoc. Editor
Brian Augustyn, Editor

The cover is by Mike Wieringo and Jose Marzan Jr., and one really neat thing about it is it shows an actual scene from the issue — an almost unheard of practice these days. And I think the really cool thing with this cover is at first glance, it appears that Flash is glowing because he's being blasted by the Kobra goon. But once you read the story, you find out that's not quite the case. And of course, I have to call out Impulse, ready to save the day. He looks pretty good, although the blur lines behind him are a bit boring. I'd like to have a little bit of lightning mixed in with it, but that's a minor detail.

Our story picks right up with the end of Flash #95, with Linda Park discovering her boyfriend, Wally West, in pure energy state. Ever since he broke the light speed barrier to travel through time, Wally has become less and less human whenever he moves to fast. And saving Impulse from the exploding Kobra plant pushed him over the edge. However, Linda is able to help him calm down and return to normal. But Wally still isn't ready to tell her about his vision of the future, and he leaves to find Max Mercury.

Wally can't find Max, but he does come across Bart, who's running atop a telephone line backwards. Wally tries to approach him, but immediately gets punched in the face.

Wally did kind of deserve that for calling Bart stupid at the end of last issue. So he's willing to overlook the punch and tries to have a normal conversation with Bart, but it doesn't go well at all. Bart says he likes spending time with the Titans because they don't ride him, and unlike Wally, Bart actually likes Arsenal. Wally tells Bart that he thinks Kobra's forces have relocated, and they need to go find them. But Bart thinks he scared them all away by destroying their plant. Neither of them notice a Kobra spy calling in the location of the two speedsters.

Wally tries to tell Bart they need to formulate a plan to find Kobra, but he has a hard time working through Bart's sarcasm and desire to use his super speed to simply look everywhere at once. Suddenly, a group of Kobra agents teleport right next to them.

Flash and Impulse fight the goons, and Wally tries to show Bart some tricks and teach him strategy, but Bart just ignores him. In his frustration, Wally expends more energy than he intended, and he begins to glow again. This makes Wally freak out a bit, and he pauses in the middle of the battle, unaware that a Kobra agent is about to blow his head off — just like on the cover.

Luckily, Bart does save him, but Wally doesn't realize it at first, and immediately starts chewing him out — asking Bart if he thinks everything is a pro-wrestling match. Bart doesn't get the reference, but he does show Wally that he diverted a blast that destroyed a big rock instead of Wally's head. The Kobra agents then teleport away, but Wally is able to grab one of their packs. Wally then tries to explain himself to Bart, but it's too late. Bart says all Wally ever does is yell, and he takes off.

We then see Kobra kill his lieutenant for ordering the attack on the Flash and allowing him to steal one of their energy receptors.

Wally returns home to find Max Mercury waiting for him. Wally's so relieved to see the "Zen Master of Speed," he immediately begins to spill his guts, even admitting that he's been lying to Linda, not realizing that she was just in the other room. Naturally, she becomes quite upset with Wally and leaves. Max disapproves of the lying, but Wally insists he's only doing it to protect her. So Max changes the subject to Bart. He helps Wally realize that he's been trying to change Bart's nature, when he should accept him for who he is. But in the meantime, since Bart won't listen to Wally, Max suggests they find someone who will. So they round up Jay Garrick, Jesse Quick and Johnny Quick to have a training session with Bart.

I really liked this issue since it was all about Bart. I loved seeing him run backwards on the telephone line — it was just so ... impulsive. But the best moments were between Wally and Bart. They reminded me of arguing with my little brother when he was 16. Like Wally, I'd try talking to him, but always seemed to end up making things worse. Teenagers can be tough to deal with, especially when they remind you too much of yourself, as was the case with me and my brother, and Wally and Bart. All their bickering came across as very realistic, and neither one of them looked too bad or good. Both are to blame, yet neither wants to be the bad guy. They just naturally clash.

Salvador Larroca's facial expressions were amazing once again, but some of his body proportions got a bit wonky during fight scenes. And Gina Going's colors once again let me down a little bit. On several pages, Wally's hair randomly switched between yellow and orange, and Impulse' goggles disappeared a couple of times.

The letters in Speed Reading are from Flash #94 and heading into Zero Hour. Most of the readers were quite concerned with the possibility of Flash dying, and a couple of them did mention Impulse.

Gary Halpin, of Ireland, said he likes Bart Allen and thinks Impulse is shaping up to be a really cool character, but he doesn't think he's ready to don his grandfather's costume.

Joey Marchese, of Clark, N.J., hopes Impulse will develop in a new and unique way, as he thus far is a fascinating character. Joey also points out how odd it is for Wally to reject having a sidekick when he was one himself.

Now for the ads. We've seen most of them before, but there are a few new ones.

Star Trek Generations. Boldly Go. I'm not a huge Star Trek fan, but I have seen all the movies at least once. I think Generations was a bit gimmicky.

Clearasil. Everything's out of whack, completely off kilter. Evil blackhead armies erupt without warning, take me as hostage, then laugh even harder and multiply. Well die, you zombie zit invaders, die, because I have a secret weapon which is mightier than you which cleans way down deep with more killer stuff than the number one pad to blast you into the next galaxy and which is fact is this wicked little pad from Clearasil.

Superman: The Man of Steel platinum series trading cards — premium and collectors editions. One set alone couldn't handle the power.

Troy Aikman NFL Football. Troy's missing a few pages from his playbook. They're in here — Troy Aikman NFL Football for Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Jaguar and PC.

Double Dragon. Power. Justice. Darkness. Light. Two halves of an ancient puzzle are the only hope.

Next time I'll finish December 1994 with Damage #8.

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