Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Flash #159

Whirlwind Ceremony

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

Our cover by Steve Lightle shows Walter West escaping into the Speed Force with his fiancee, Angela Margolin. I rarely like Lightle covers, and this one is made even worse by the rather cheesy speech bubbles. I think Impulse and Young Justice covers can occasionally get away with speech bubbles when they're intentionally being really goofy. But The Flash is a much more serious title, and this is a really serious situation. And to add one more sin to this cover, the story inside directly contradicts this image and dialogue. But don't worry, we've got a really good story inside, trust me!

We pick up right where we left off last time, with Superman and Wonder Woman's sudden arrival. Unfortunately, these two powerful heroes are none too happy, and are actually physically separating Walter and Angela. Wally asks what's going on, and Superman tells him that Walter's very presence is endangering everything they know. Jay Garrick begins to object, but as he talks, a phantom image of himself from another world briefly appears next to him.

Wonder Woman recognizes that this means the timelines are crossing, and Superman reluctantly explains to Walter that he, Wonder Woman and Batman recently had an adventure involving parallel worlds and hypertime. They learned from experience that the longer something or someone remains in the wrong reality, the more the barriers between timelines bend and break. Superman sadly tells Walter that he has to leave this world before the universe crashes into others and collapses.

Walter demands to take Angela with him, but Wonder Woman explains to him that taking her back to his world would be just as dangerous as he is to this world. Wonder Woman and Superman apologize and express genuine sorrow, but as they talk, Superman briefly becomes Ultraman. Jesse Quick tries to make the case for Walter being able to stay, but Wally points out how reality is already being warped by Walter just standing there. Ultimately, Superman and Wonder Woman decide to give Walter six more hours to spend with Angela, and they take off.

Wally and Linda offer their condolences to Walter and Angela. Walter turns them down, not unkindly, and reminds them that they should be planning their wedding that got interrupted so long ago. Impulse excitedly remembers this key detail, and Joey Cavalieri reminds us that it happened way back in The Flash #142. Bart is so excited, in fact, that he quickly throws on a judge's outfit, presumably to marry Wally and Linda right then and there. Max Mercury sighs and tells Bart now is not the time. But Wally surprises everyone (Bart most of all) by saying that Bart has an excellent idea. Wally suggests they hurry and get married today — re-creating their original ceremony as soon as possible. Linda points out that they have a lot to do — getting caterers, guests, the marriage license, her grandma's Iowa farm prepared — but Jay says that's nothing the Lightning Brigade can't handle, and everyone rushes off to get this wedding ready. (I've never heard the term Lightning Brigade before, but I think it might be a half-decent way to describe the Flash "family." Or it might just be really cheesy. I can't tell.)

Meanwhile, Walter takes Angela to Rome to have their own private ceremony in a beautiful, yet empty chapel. Angela breaks down in tears, saying she'll never be able to love anyone else once Walter leaves. He does his best to comfort her, talking about his own experiences with learning to love other people and see them for who they honestly are.

Back on the Park family farm, Wally is impatiently "helping" the caterers set up, and he accidentally knocks down the wedding cake. But instead of catching the cake, he steals the speed from it, causing it to fall like a feather so the caterers can easily catch it themselves. This surprises both Wally and Linda, who speculates that he must have gained this new ability after being merged with Walter. Wally seems doubtful, so Linda suggests that he could just be honing his skills. In any case, she tells him to worry about it later and just try to chill for a moment. But Wally begins rushing around even faster, setting up the decorations. Linda asks if they should at least postpone until his parents arrive, but Wally says he'll send them a wedding album, to which Linda asks if any photographer will be able to capture him on film.

The JLA and Titans then arrive, and Superman asks Linda to forgive Wally for his jumpiness, considering what happened last time. But he assures her that this time, all these heroes aren't just guests, but they're also guards. Linda is still a bit worried about Wally, and she talks to Donna Troy about him. As Superman scans the area, he asks Jay and Max how exactly Walter came to this dimension. Turns out the elder speedster have been discussing that very topic, and they believe that Walter held the Speed Force open and let loose its energy. Max know from personal experience that not only is this tactic a life-or-death gamble, but it also means that even though Walter can leave this world, there's no guarantee he'll make it back to his world.

In Rome, Walter sees the "bleed-over" from his world is getting worse and now causing accidents in the street. He tells Angela he'll need to leave soon, and, to make matters worse, he admits to her that he's not sure if they'll be able to remember each other once he leaves. This makes Angela and Walter cry even more.

On a happier note, Wally and Linda's wedding has begun! In addition to the JLA and Titans in full uniform, the guests include Chunk, Jay and Joan Garrick, Ralph and Sue Dibny, Linda' friend Barb, and all our favorite speedster (or Lightning Brigade) in their Sunday best. Bart, the ring bearer, is wearing a nice, brown suit with his hair slicked back into a pony tail. On one panel, there's a closeup of Changeling, but I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be Bart and was just mis-colored.

Anyway, the wedding suddenly becomes a shocker when Linda halts the ceremony to finally have a frank, honest discussion with Wally. Max is worried, but Jay assures him they'll be able to work it out. Arsenal says they should sell tickets to this, and Donna tells him to be quiet. Linda finally gets Wally to admit that he got really spooked by Walter and is afraid that he'll turn out like him if he doesn't get married as soon as possible. Linda points out that that's not a good enough reason to want to marry somebody, and this forces Wally to finally be open with his feelings. He tells Linda how he never wants to be without her again, how he taught her how to have fun and she taught him how to be a grownup. He says he can't wait to spend the rest of his life getting to know her. After this sweet speech, Linda allows the ceremony to continue, and the two are finally, truly married.

But as Wally and Linda kiss to begin their new lives together, Walter and Angela kiss to begin their new lives apart from each other. A heartbroken Walter rushes off into the Speed Force, praying that Angela will still remember him. When he emerges, he finds himself in front of a comic shop, with a bunch of kids wondering why a guy in a costume is standing around when it's not Halloween. Walter learns that he's not in Central City anymore, but Kansas City. The comic shop owner assumes Walter is an incredible cosplayer, and he invites him inside to take some pictures. Walter sees a bunch of comics on the shelves that were published this month, including the JLA #40 we just reviewed. He picks up a copy of The Flash #159, which has a picture of himself on the cover. He reads the story we just read, and on the last page, sees a panel of Angela saying she does remember Walter and will always remember. This puts a smile on Walter's face for the first time that day, and he quickly leaves the shop, presumably to try to find a way back to his proper home.

This was a great issue. Wally and Linda finally got married! And Walter got a sweet, tragic sendoff, combined with a fun trip to "our world" where superheroes are fictional. I thought the big wedding was handled well — we didn't need a repeat of all buildup we had last time. The guest list felt appropriate, except for the absence of Linda's parents. It makes sense for Wally, since his family is awful, but poor Linda's mom was seen weeping and desperately searching for her daughter while she was trapped in time. Linda's parents definitely deserved to be there.

Bart didn't have a whole lot to do, but he was great in his limited scenes. Dressing up like a judge with a long black robe and curly white wig was great, and I appreciated his smug look of importance while serving as the ring bearer. But what was up with that ponytail? Good look? Weird look? I can't say for certain.

Next time, we'll be formally introduced to Empress in Young Justice #19

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