Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Flash #131

Emergency Stop Part Two: Threads

Grant Morrison and Mark Millar Writers
Paul Ryan Penciller
John Nyberg Inker
Gaspar Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Asst. Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

In Emergency Stop Part One, Flash battled a sentient super villain suit simply called The Suit. It has the ability to wrap itself around people, drain their life energy, and acquire their abilities. The Suit thought it killed the Flash last issue, but Wally obviously survived the encounter. But as our cover by Steve Lightle shows, Flash did not emerge from that fight unscathed. However, Wally's even more injured than indicated here — both his legs were shattered by the Suit.

Our story begins with a depressed Wally trying to get used to life in a wheelchair. His casts are signed by Amy, John (Nyberg), Brian (Augustyn), Max, Heather, Jay, Jason (Hernandez-Rosenblatt), Joan, Grant (Morrison), Mark (Millar), Smitty, (Paul) Ryan, Bart Rules, Linda (with a heart over the i) and Kupps (Paul Kupperberg). Even with his super speed, the doctors say it will take Wally a week or two before he can walk again. And since the Suit is still on the loose, Wally decides to call in Jay Garrick, Max Mercury and Bart Allen.

All the speedsters meet at Wally's house to put together a plan, and Linda serves snacks, which Bart immediately shoves into his face. Bart asks why Wally doesn't just become the fastest man on two wheels, and Wally explains that he did try it, but quickly destroyed his wheelchair in the process. Wally then gets back on point, and says that they have the element of surprise on their side. Since the Suit thinks he's dead, Wally wants the other speedsters to impersonate him, and he gives them his suit. Bart then asks Max how he can get one made of that shiny stuff, which makes no sense to me. Isn't Bart's suit from the 30th century, and should, therefore be better than Wally's? Anyway, Linda gets a phone call from the police. Apparently the Suit has taken over a highway patrol man and is now riding his motorcycle toward the prison.

So Bart becomes the first to wear Wally's suit, even though it's too big for him. Bart meets the Suit out on a bridge, and introduces himself as Bart Allen, the Flash. He then vibrates the bridge just enough to make it shake and cause the motorcycle to crash, but not too much to make the bridge collapse. The Suit is shocked to see the Flash alive and demands to know why he isn't dead. Bart simply says there was nothing to do, so he came back. And Bart zips away to hand Flash's uniform to Jay.

Jay helps add to the Suit's bewilderment by attacking from the side with a big wave he whipped up from the river. He then passes off Wally's uniform to Max, but something goes wrong. The Suit was somehow able to attach itself to Max, taking control of him and his powers. Bart becomes worried for Max's life, and he and Jay try to save him, but the Suit immediately resumes his trek toward the prison.

Meanwhile, Wally has become sick and tired of sitting around in a wheelchair doing nothing. So he begins reciting the old Johnny Quick formula in his head over and over again — 3X2(9YZ)4A — until he taps into the Speed Force. Wally then somehow gains control of this energy and causes it to manifest itself as a gold suit that begins to wrap around his body. We then cut back to our lovable Impulse, who has taken to scare tactics to stop the Suit.

The Suit had begun to run around the walls of the prison, trying to break them down. Bart and Jay arrived just in time to stop him, but when Jay punches the Suit, it reminds him that he's only hurting Max. This throws our heroes off guard long enough for the Suit to pick up and Impulse and throw him at super speed toward the prison wall. Jay warns Bart to vibrate through the wall, which he does. But by doing so, Bart compromised the wall's integrity just enough to bring it crashing down.

A large group of strange super criminals immediately come rushing out, and Jay prepares to make his final stand to stop them and the Suit. But suddenly, Jay is joined by Wally West, who is wearing a suit made of pure Speed Force energy that can somehow prop him up even with his broken legs.

Poor Max just can't catch a break. After being kidnapped by Dr. Morlo and unfathomably defeated by the Owlhoot Syndicate, he now finds himself in the clutches of the Suit. Overall, I thought this was a rather interesting issue, although it was definitely missing that magical Mark Waid touch. All the characters felt just a little bit off, and I'll blame Grant Morrison for the overly complicated attempts at explaining the Speed Force. In my opinion, the less said about the Speed Force, the better. But I did like the concept of the Suit, as well as the idea of Wally being sidelined with two broken legs. I just wish they could have spent some more time with an injured Wally. Really make him fret before he pops out with a shiny new suit.

None of the letters in Speed Reading mention Impulse, and none of the ads are new, so that means we've finally wrapped up Flash Month. Well, that's not necessarily true. There is one more Flash Month book that just missed the November 1997 publication date, and that is the special hardcover 96-page The Life Story of the Flash, which I will briefly cover next time.

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