Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Flash #142

Get Me to the Church on Time

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, Writers
Pop Mhan, Pencils
Chris Ivy, Inks
Gaspar, Letters
Tom McCraw, Colors
L.A. Williams, Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg, Editor

Our cover by Steve Lightle should be better than it is. This is the wedding of the Flash, for goodness sake — let's step up our game! The overall idea of this cover is fine, but the execution falls flat for me. I especially don't like the blur effect given to all the people on the sidelines. I never feel like that effect makes it look like the Flash is running any faster. And although Jay Garrick is featured quite prominently here, he does not appear inside. But that's more Pop Mhan's fault than anything else.

Our story begins with the sudden return of Kobra and his cult. Wally West has put everything on hold the past 24 hours to deal with this international terrorist, and even his fiancée, Linda Park, is helping out. While reporting on the story, Linda learns that Kobra has raided the Air Force armory and has his hands on a major warhead. She conveys this information to Wally, who interrogates one of Kobra's goons to learn he's set up a makeshift base in an office building under construction at Broome Plaza (named after legendary Flash writer John Broome).

As soon as Flash arrives at the building, Kobra and his lieutenants teleport away. Flash just missed the order Kobra gave to his men, but he's somehow able to move faster than the speed of sound to catch up to his words (yeah, it doesn't really make sense to me). But the important thing is Flash heard Kobra order his men to pull out from City Hall. So Flash decides to catch Kobra another day, and first focus on evacuating City Hall. He gets all the people out with ease, but by the time he find the warhead in the basement, it's already begun to detonate. Wally does his best to contain the blast with a cyclonic vortex, but the first floor of the building is destroyed. And this is what worried Wally most, since that floor contains the license bureau and his marriage license. Luckily, he is able to sort through all the papers flying around in the air and finds his license. The document validated by Paul Kupperberg is a little charred, but it'll get the job done.

Wally and Linda return home and begin the frantic preparations for their wedding, which is less than 24 hours away. They're planning on having the wedding at the Park family ancestral home, and a small crisis arises when Linda's grandma reports that the cake hasn't been delivered yet. Wally panics and runs to France to borrow a baker named Pierre to have him make them a new cake right then and there. But Linda resolved the crisis with a simple phone call, finding out the cake was delivered to the wrong address by mistake. Wally sheepishly takes Pierre back to Paris, and Linda found the whole gesture quite romantic. The two lovebirds begin to make out, but they're interrupted by the arrival of Linda's parents. The last time Wally saw them was at Linda's funeral, and Linda's mom slapped Wally. But they seem to be on better terms now.

We skip ahead to the day of the wedding at the Park family ancestral home, which is actually a cozy farm in Iowa. Wally is terrified to learn Linda made Bart the ring-bearer, worried he'll be chasing penguins in Antarctica at the time of the ceremony. But Linda says you just have to know how to play him. She pulls Bart away from attempting to stick a fork in an electrical outlet, and she orders him to protect the golden bands of Matrimor from the Volkon forces and to deliver them promptly at 1400 chronomarks, Earth-time. Ensign Allen salutes Commander Park and accepts this serious mission, leaving Max to wonder why he's never thought of that.

Wally's boozy and indifferent parents arrive — Rudy West has a new trampy girlfriend, and Mary West Valentino has a new husband, Rudolpho. Luckily, Wally is able to send them away by mentioning Aunt Charlotte and an inheritance. Next to arrive is Wally's best man, Dick Grayson, who has disguised himself in a curly blond wig. Wally teases his old Teen Titans buddy for being the only crimefighter whose secret identity has a secret identity. Dick can tell Wally and Linda are both nervous, but he points out what a great couple they make, filling in for their shortcomings with their respective strengths.

Three more former Titans show up — Donna Troy, Garth and Roy Harper — and Wally puts their gifts on the table with the others, not noticing a small brown package labeled "Urgent!" The splashiest entrance though, goes to the JLA. Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern and Plastic Man all fly down in full costume. Wally's quite happy to see them, since he doesn't even know half his family that Linda invited.

But the biggest surprise guest is Iris Allen. Wally wanted to invite her, but didn't know how to contact her. Iris explains that she's willing to make exceptions to her self-imposed exile for big events like this. Even more surprising is that Iris brought along her father, Ira West, who thought Iris was dead for years. But Iris didn't like concealing that fact from him, and talked it out with him some time ago.

All this talk of family makes Wally realize why Linda's been acting so nervous around his extended family. She sees how coldly Wally treats his family and worries he'd do the same to her once they're married. They have a sweet conversation about it, and he assures her that won't be the case. With all that cleared up, they finally head to the ceremony.

The guy on the left of Wally is Dick Grayson in disguise. Bart is to Linda's right, having successfully protected and delivered the wedding rings. And the girl on the far right is not Jesse Chambers, but a random friend of Linda's named Barb. Wally mentions a bunch of people who made it but were not shown (thanks a lot, Pop Mhan!), including Jay and Joan Garrick, Chunk, Hartley Rathaway and Jesse.

Anyway, everything goes smoothly until it comes time to exchange their vows. Wally realizes he forgot to write his vows, and he quickly darts out of the room. He frantically tries to come up with something, remembering how they first met, how he entered and left the Speed Force for the first time, and how he recently saved Linda from the Speed Force. This helps him sort things out, and he quickly returns to the ceremony and delivers a sweet, heartfelt vow, where he says that Linda is his beacon, and with her in his life, he's forever safe. But when Wally puts the ring on Linda's finger, there's a big flash of light.

The next thing he knows, Wally is in his living room and wearing his Flash costume. He's not sure what he's doing there or what he was talking about. He remembers it had something to do with Dick, so he calls up Nightwing and asks him if he's ever heard of Linda Park. Dick says he knows of Lindbergh Park down the block, but that's about it. He asks Wally to repeat the name, and he suddenly can't. Wally figures he's been overworked and really should get a girlfriend. He hangs up the phone and fails to notice one leftover present from the wedding — the small brown package labeled, "Urgent!" As Flash heads out on patrol, we see Linda in her wedding dress, trapped in a dark room with a dark figure.

It's very nice to have Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn back. And it's nice to see that something as monumental as the Flash's wedding can't come easy. Sadly, this story is crippled by the horrible art of Pop Mhan. If this were the actual wedding issue, I'd be very upset. There were hardly any cameos, everyone looked really angry most of the time, even when they were supposed to be happy, and there were a few instances of straight-up character confusion because of the poor art and coloring mistakes. I've never had an issue with Tom McCraw before, but in this issue he gave Wally yellow hair a couple of times. What's up with that? Luckily, the issue ends on a really strong note to help ease those problems. It's one thing to have Linda get kidnapped on the day of the wedding. It's a whole other thing to have everyone forget that Linda even existed. Now that's some serious stuff right there.

Next time, we return to the main series with Impulse #42.

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