Monday, July 6, 2015

The Flash #141

The Black Flash Part 3 The End

Mark Millar ... Writer
Pop Mhan & Joshua Hood ... Pencillers
Chris Ivy ... Inker
Gaspar ... Letterer
Tom McCraw ... Colorist
L.A. Williams ... Asst. Editor
Paul Kupperberg ... Editor

This is actually one of the better covers Steve Lightle has done on this series. He keeps things pretty simple and basic, and for the most part, it works. It's funny how sometimes using less detail can improve your artwork. I like the colors, and I think the Flash looks pretty good. I'm not quite sure why he's running straight up a cliff, though.

Our story begins with a brief flashback of the deaths of Barry Allen, Johnny Quick and Savitar. Wally West narrates that despite the great speed each of those men possessed, they were all caught by the Black Flash in the end. And now, a powerless Wally is staring down the Black Flash in a frozen airport. Wally says that Max Mercury told him the Black Flash corrupts time when it enters our dimension, and just about anything that hasn't been connected to the Speed Force for a number of years slows down to an absolute stop. I don't know how Max could have known this, or when he would have had the time or reason to tell Wally this. But as it stands, we do have an explanation for why Impulse is frozen in time, but Wally is not.

Wally starts throwing things at the Black Flash, and actually manages to put some distance between himself and the omen of death. He sneaks down the luggage chutes and tries to escape the airport, but finds the doors are locked. So Wally throws on a Wayne Flight Support hat, and tries to blend in with the motionless crowd. However, Wally's plan doesn't work, and the Black Flash sneaks up behind him for the kill.

Suddenly, Wally is swept away to safety by Jay Garrick. Jay explains that Max felt the Black Flash's presence and rounded everyone up. Their plan is to keep Wally hidden until they can take care of the Black Flash, but Wally says that thing won't leave until it kills someone. So Jay locks Wally inside a utility closet and races off to fight the Black Flash with Jesse Quick and Max Mercury. Max realizes the Black Flash has given up looking for Wally, and is now headed straight toward the frozen Bart. So the three speedsters coordinate their efforts to lure the Black Flash away, and Jay manages to use a food cart to shove it out the window and into a gasoline truck, which explodes in a fiery burst.

Wally hears the explosion and fears the worst. As he cries out in anguish, lightning begins to spark in his eyes. Meanwhile, Max and Jesse catch up with Jay, who was knocked unconscious by the blast. But the Black Flash was completely unfazed. Wally realizes he's regained his connection to the Speed Force, and he breaks out of the closet, armed with a plan to take the Black Flash somewhere it can be contained. But before Wally reaches the others, Max knocks out Jesse and offers himself up to be taken by the Black Flash.

Wally arrives in the nick of time, and leads the Black Flash away with a really stupid line: "Let's boogie!" Wally says it's been nearly six weeks since he last ran like this, and now he's determined to not stop running until the threat of the Black Flash is neutralized once and for all. He leads Black Flash on a race around the world, and they soon start running fast enough to travel through time. They travel millions, even billions of years into the future before the Black Flash catches up to Wally. He keeps pushing forward another hundred million years until they reach the end of time. Billions and billions of years in the future, the very concept of life and death cease to exist. And so does the Black Flash, which is engulfed in a blinding white entropy. Wally keeps running and experiences the Big Bang as the universe resets itself. But Wally can't face the prospect of going back home to a world without Linda Park.

Back in the present, time is back to normal, and Jesse tells a recovering Jay that Wally beat the Black Flash and should be returning shortly. But Max isn't so sure Wally can return. He explains that Wally was able to reconnect to the Speed Force because his friends were in trouble, but now that the threat has been eliminated, Max worries that Wally doesn't see any reason to return now. Impulse then meets up with everybody just in time to hear Max say he believes Wally committed suicide.

Bart does not take this news well, and collapses in an emotional heap. He yells at Max, saying Wally would never do that in a million years, and that he's the Flash — the hero Bart wants to be when he grows up. Tearfully, Bart says the Flash can do anything so long as you believe in him, and he begs Max to believe in Wally.

Luckily, Bart's sadness doesn't last too long. Wally suddenly arrives with Linda in his arms. Her clothes are in tatters, but there's just enough strategically placed fabric to keep her decent. Everyone is shocked and thrilled to see the couple, and Max surmises that Wally dove into the Speed Force and pulled her out. Bart shouts, "Ya-hoooooo!!!" and gives Wally a big hug, before quickly pulling off him and trying to act cool by saying, "Uh, I mean 'nice job,' man. You're a real pro." Jesse then gives Wally his engagement ring back and tells him to just say what he feels.


Wally takes Linda to her grave, and she comments on how odd it is to know exactly who attended her funeral. Wally admits there was one good part about the funeral, Superman and Captain Marvel teaming up to read a passage from the Bible, which Wally describes as the most powerful thing he's heard in his whole life. Linda then complains about the reporter her station sent to cover her funeral, and Wally awkwardly changes the subject by pulling out the ring. Linda says they shouldn't be doing this in a graveyard, so Wally rushes them to Paris and gets a nice dress for her and a tuxedo for himself. Wally then finally asks his longtime girlfriend if she'll marry him, and ... she doesn't say anything. However, an editor's note says, "Next: Waid & Augustyn return for ... the wedding of the Flash!"

There were a few things that I did like in this issue, but a few other things I didn't like. The art was awful as always, although I do suspect it was Joshua Hood who drew Impulse's emotional breakdown, which seemed a bit different and a little better than Pop Mhan's usual work. And that meltdown was my favorite part of the issue. It's kind of refreshing and humanizing to see Bart lose control of his emotions like that. I also liked how Max was willing to sacrifice himself to stop the Black Flash and right the wrong he basically caused.

But I didn't like how Max was used to inexplicably explain every single detail. Yeah, he's the Zen Master of Speed, but how did he know all that stupid stuff about the Black Flash freezing time for everybody except those who've been connected to the Speed Force longer than two or three years. When it comes down to it, that was a stupid excuse for Mark Millar to have his cake and eat it, too. He wanted to keep the cool visual of last issue with Impulse being frozen in time, but he also wanted to bring in the other speedsters to have a big showdown with Black Flash. So he came up with a really lame loophole to explain why Bart froze and the others didn't.

As a whole, I really did not like the Black Flash story at all. I don't like the idea of death being personified as a fallible, corruptible being. Death is a natural, necessary and inevitable part of life. While it's kind of neat for speedster to have their own version of death, I don't like that it can accidentally kill Linda instead of Wally, and then wait six weeks before attempting to rectify the problem. And how did it cease to exist at the end of time but Wally survived?  I also would have liked more explanation as to how Wally was able to save Linda. Was she sent to the Speed Force because the Black Flash killed her? And if so, what then? None of this makes any sense. Millar got too wild and vague for my liking.

Next time, we'll return to the main series with Impulse #41.

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