Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Flash #109

Dead Heat! Second Lap: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Mark Waid, Story
Oscar Jimenez, Pencils
Jose Marzan, Jr., Inks
Gaspar, Letterer
Tom McCraw, Colorist
Alisande Morales, Asst. Editor
Ruben Diaz, Assoc. Editor
Brian Augustyn, Editor

Our cover by Jimenez and Marzan does a good job of showing that Jay, Jesse and Bart have all lost their speed, while Wally's remains. However, they utilized a rather annoying computer effect to blur everything behind the Flash, and I can't stand it.

Our story begins with Wally arriving at Bart's house just in time to save him and Jenni from Savitar's super-speed ninjas. While Wally fights, Jay protects Bart's secret identity by forcing everybody inside and closing the door. Wally quickly defeats the ninjas, knocking out the last one with the refrigerator door. Savitar then disposes of his failed goons once again by causing them to rapidly age and disintegrate.

Bart tells everybody that Max has been missing for several days, and since they were counting on Max to explain who Savitar is, Bart pulls out all his personal papers to look for clues. Wally quickly sifts through everything and the only thing suspicious he finds is a journal written in Korean. Linda's parents are Korean, so she begins to translate it, while Jenni introduces herself to Wally and explains how they're related. Linda then finds Max's entry on Savitar and reads it to the group.

Savitar (real name unknown) was a military pilot from a third-world nation. He tested an experimental plane and pushed it beyond its limits and broke all speed records of the time. But then his plane was struck by lightning and exploded. But Savitar awoke unharmed thousands of miles away. He was soon surrounded by enemy soldiers, and upon discovering he had super speed, viciously attacked and killed his enemies.

The man made speed his new religion, traveling the world and studying everything he could. He took the name Savitar after the Hindu god of motion, and made it his lifelong pursuit to enter the Speed Force. All this happened when Jay was retired and before Barry came on the scene, meaning Johnny Quick and Max Mercury were the only active speedsters. Savitar once approached Johnny, seeking more enlightenment, but was disgusted to learn Johnny harnessed his power from a scientific formula. Max quickly arrived to help Johnny, but even the two of them couldn't defeat Savitar. So Max goaded Savitar into chasing him toward the Speed Force. But before they could enter it, Max shoved Savitar into the time stream, popping out himself a few years in the future. Max knew Savitar would eventually return, perhaps decades later, and that Savitar's acolytes remained, likely growing in strength and numbers. So Max spent his time probing the Speed Force through meditation and gathering as many allies as he could.

Everyone begins to discuss whether Max took Bart under his wing specifically for Savitar and why Max never mentioned any of this earlier. Linda speculates that Max was worried about Wally and/or Bart rushing off headfirst without much of plan. Right on cue, Max bursts through the front door. But he's wounded and covered in blood, revealing that Savitar carved a map to his castle into Max's chest. Max says he stored away some speed, which is keeping him alive, and he tells Wally he needs to fight Savitar before he kills him. He tells Wally that Savitar can't steal his speed, since he's so closely tied to the Speed Force.

Wally prepares to take off, giving Linda his customary kiss before a big fight, but then everybody protests about Wally taking on Savitar alone. Jenni reveals she has a flight ring — which surprises Bart — and Wally asks if Jesse can borrow the ring since he's more familiar with her. Jenni agrees, and Jesse arms herself with one of the ninja's swords. So Wally and Jesse head out — first to take Max to the hospital, and then to take on Savitar.

Things are really heating up nicely now, and Savitar is a pretty unique and formidable villain. One of the best ways to challenge a speedster is with another speedster, and a religious fanatic is a refreshing way to deal with it. It's also great to see all the hints and teases Max has been dropping for so long finally coming to light. Not a whole lot of Impulse here, but I was glad that Wally didn't chew him out for not reporting Max's disappearance. Bart will need to be taught that lesson, but now is not the time.

All the letters in Speed Reading deal with The Flash #106, which didn't include Impulse, so we'll just skip straight to the ads.

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Next time, check out Impulse #10 for chapter 3 of Dead Heat as a speed less Bart has to deal with the near fatal attack on Max Mercury and the fact that for all intents and purposes he may be a normal boy forever. Meanwhile, the speed ninjas attack Max's hospital room.

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