Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Flash #154

Dimensionally Challenged

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, Story
Paul Pelletier, Pencils
Jose Marzan, Jr., Inks
Tom McCraw, Colors
Gaspar, Letters
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

Our cover by Steve Lightle is ... disappointing at best. The concept behind it is a great one. The new Flash finally revealing his identity to the other speedsters, who are both in shock, and seem to recognize the man behind the mask. But the execution is just awful. Max Mercury looks 20 years old and Impulse is flat-out terrible. Pelletier could have drawn this exact same pose a thousand times better.

Our story begins with the new Flash fighting and ultimately defeating the Folded Man. But we don't really care about that — let's skip ahead to the good stuff. Max, Impulse and Jesse Quick are still suspicious of the new Flash, so they've begun investigating the lightning-shaped obelisk he placed in front of the Flash Museum and regularly disappears into. Impulse vibrates through the structure, but can't find anything. Max encourages Bart to keep trying different frequencies, while Jesse begins to get second thoughts, reminding Max that Jay Garrick has vouched for this Flash.

Before too long, Impulse finds the Flash's lair, deep underground below the obelisk. He burrows a tunnel for Max and Jesse, and they all begin searching the sanctum, which Jesse speculates could be one of the Turtle's old underground passages. The room is full of boxes of books, photo albums and other personal effects belonging to Wally West and Barry Allen. Bart is a bit reckless searching through all the stuff, tossing a bunch of textbooks around, which Jesse hastily catches. Max notices the textbooks are all about chemistry, which only makes him more suspicious of the new Flash. But Bart is frustrated for a different reason. Amidst all the boxes and photos, there's not one picture of Linda Park.

Jesse and Max literally drag Bart away, telling him that he's too old for imaginary friends. Of course, we know that Linda is not imaginary. She just happens to be trapped in an alternate timeline, where the Flash is a wanted criminal and is currently beating the snot out of a bunch of police officers. Linda sees this Flash's viciousness and realizes that he is not Wally. He tries to take her away, but she calls him a maniac, and explains that she was kidnapped and somehow escaped to the wrong place. Flash says he thought she was dead, and he's suddenly attacked by an ultrasonic blast from the Piper.

Hartley Rathaway tells Wally he's sorry to be attacking him, but he felt he has no choice after what Wally did to Heat Wave. Piper then notices Linda, is shocked to see her, then warns her that Flash has changed and she's not safe with him. Piper holds off the Flash, and sacrifices himself to help Linda escape. She runs through the city and comes across a large statue in her memory. According to the plaque, in this world, Linda apparently sacrificed herself to defeat Kobra.

Back in our world, the new Flash has defeated Folded Man and is sharing an intimate moment with Angela Margolin in her office. She basically professes her love to him, but once again asks where he came from. Max, Impulse and Jesse show up right then, asking the same question.

Meanwhile, Linda runs to the cemetery and finds her own grave. The Flash then finds her, and Linda tells him that in her world, Wally sacrificed himself and then came back from heaven to save her. This makes Flash jealous and angry. He grabs Linda harshly, and tells her that he killed Kobra for her, and has been killing criminals since then to protect the innocent. He starts raving, saying he'll never let Linda go again. As she tries to escape, a bolt of lightning strikes between them, and another Wally West emerges from it, telling the other one to take his hands off Linda.

Max confronts the new Flash with some of Wally's personal effects, saying he suspects he knows what happened to Wally. Bart grows impatient with all this, and finally manages to rip off the Flash's mask. At last, we get to see the face of this mysterious speedster. He looks just like Wally, except he's older and has a lightning-shaped scar running down the side of his face. And he says his name is Wally West.

Shocking, wild and confusing. But a fun read all the same. And I have faith that Waid and Augustyn will be able to clear this all up in the next couple of issues. As always, Pelletier's art was beautiful, and I really enjoyed Impulse's brief moments. And the fight with the Folded Man wasn't bad, either. It just wasn't relevant to this blog, since Impulse wasn't involved.

Next time, we'll take a quick peek at the crossover event Day of Judgment. Impulse didn't appear in the main storyline, but he did show up in a couple of tie-ins, starting with Impulse #54.

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