Friday, May 29, 2015

The Flash #138

The Human Race: Part 3 Home Run

Grant Morrison & Mark Millar ... Writers
Ron Wagner ... Penciller
John Nyberg ... Inker
Gaspar ... Letterer
Tom McCraw ... Colorist
L.A. Williams ... Asst. Editor
Paul Kupperberg ... Editor

The cover by Steve Lightle is rather vague and doesn't represent the story inside very well, in my opinion. I'm not sure what's supposed to going on with the Flash, but that furry little creature dying on the ground is Krakkl, a being composed of radio waves. So he's not supposed to be furry, but more staticy. Altogether, this cover confuses and depresses me.

Our story begins with Linda Park broadcasting a message across the world. Her boyfriend, Wally West, is trapped in a race through space and time, and he needs every the help of every man, woman and child to add to his speed by running along with him. Linda is connected to Wally through a headset, and after she makes the initial announcement, he comes in to confirm what she's said and offer words of encouragement to all the planet's racers. Even the inmates of Keystone Prison are let out into the yard to run, and the Justice League makes an appearance in New York to run alongside everyone else.

We then find out why Wally made this unusual request. Apparently he has been forced into a race by a couple of cosmic gamblers — all powerful beings set on destroying the loser's home world. Flash is racing against Krakkl, from the radio wave planet of Kwyzz. Fearing he will eventually lose, and trusting Wally, Krakkl reveals to him that he's been cheating by collecting the kinetic energy of his planet. But Krakkl knows he and his people can't keep running forever, so he teaches Wally his trick, in hopes that he'll figure out a way to outwit the cosmic gamblers.

The gigantic gamblers grant Wally and Krakkl a small break to eat some food. Flash uses this opportunity to open a new wager with the gamblers, betting that he can make it back to Earth faster than they can teleport there. Unable to pass up a bet, the gamblers agree, although they set the stakes. If Wally beats them to Earth, they will spare the planet, but destroy Kwyzz. Krakkl is understandably upset by this proposition, but Wally asks him to trust him.

Wally then cues Linda to tell everyone on Earth to start running. Fueled by the kinetic energy of 5 billion running people, the Flash begins his race against the cosmic gambler. Somehow, Wally is able to follow the stream from his headset to Linda's in order to escape the fourth dimension and return to his world. To Wally's surprise, Krakkl joins him in the race, saying that even with his whole world behind him, he's still not fast enough. So Krakkl gives his speed to Wally, sacrificing himself with the hope that Wally will be able to save Kwyzz. But Wally recognizes that he's still not fast enough, even after Krakkl's added speed. So he cues his secret weapon, the five fastest people alive — Superman, Jay Garrick, Impulse, Max Mercury and Jesse Quick.

Their added speed is enough to put Wally over the top, and he soon arrives on Earth with septo-seconds to spare. This is more than enough time for Wally to enact the second phase of his plan: tuning every radio he can to Frequency X, the frequency on which Kwyzz exists. The cosmic gambler soon arrives, recognizes Flash as the winner, and prepares to destroy Kwyzz. But Wally points out he can't do that without destroying Earth as well, since the planet Kwyzz now occupies the same space as Earth. The cosmic gamblers are entities of their word, and they leave without further trouble, as everyone on Earth, including the invisible natives of Kwyzz, celebrate the Flash's victory.

Flash then retells the story to a random fourth grade class — I guess he had been scheduled to talk to them before this whole thing started. I don't know why he chose to speak to a small class of 11 kids rather than address the whole school, but he did. At the end of his visit, the teacher takes a picture of Flash with all the kids on a polaroid camera. But when the photo develops, it shows a mysterious Black Flash standing behind Wally.

This was actually a pretty fun, if abstract issue. It's very Grant Morrison-y, but I think a little bit of Morrison every once in a while is a good thing. And I was surprised with how well I followed the story by only reading the third and final part. I am a little sad that Impulse had such a small role. I also think the order of things should have been adjusted. Flash should have recognized he didn't have enough speed at first, call on the five fastest runners, and still realize he's coming up short. Only after exhausting every available option should Krakkl have come in and sacrificed himself to save the day once and for all.

I only have the digital copy of this issue, so I'll leave you until next time, when we take our first steps toward a most excellent series with Young Justice: The Secret #1.

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