The Flash: Year One by Joshua Williamson

details
Title: The Flash.
Story-arc: Year One.
Universe:
Rebirth.
Writer(s): Joshua Williamson.
Artist(s): Howard Porter.
Colourist(s): Hi-Fi.
Letterer(s): Steve Wands.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: November 19th, 2019.
Pages: 168.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401299347.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

thoughts

Every hero’s journey begins somewhere. Whether it’s in a dark alley or in a spacecraft, these individuals are launched on an endeavour that is beyond their wildest imagination as they take upon themselves new responsibilities that put the safety of the world before their own. While some choose to walk this path, proud and honoured to serve a greater good, others learn their lesson the hard way, through adversity and challenges. And so, how did the world’s fastest man alive come to be? It is thanks to writer Joshua Williamson (Nailbiter, The Flash) and artist Howard Porter (JLA) that fans are given the opportunity to discover a brand-new origin story for the Scarlet Speedster, a story that will transform him into the hero that will inspire countless lives and cities as he streaks his way across towns, countries, and universes.

What is The Flash: Year One about? Forensic scientist for the Central City police, Barry Allen routinely helps solve cases after the fact, once the crime is committed and while the culprit is either in custody or in the wild. His job places him in a tough position where his ability to reduce crime is never immediate or tangible as he remains behind the scenes. It’s after being struck by lightning in his laboratory, doused in chemicals, that his life changes forever. He now possesses incredible speed surging from the depths of his atoms which allows him to run faster than anything imaginable. Collecting The Flash issues #70-75, this origin story explores the Scarlet Speedster’s journey to becoming Central City’s greatest hero as he not only discovers who he is destined to be but also faces an evil adversary bound to become an archnemesis with his ability to slow The Flash down to a standstill.

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Here’s why this story arc works quite well as it crystallizes into a cohesive whole by the end of the graphic novel. Writer Joshua Williamson utilizes the best elements of Barry Allen’s lore to infuse this story with spark and dazzle. From his various abilities and his lack of control over them to the myriad of key figures that shape his life for the better, there’s a lot of elements packed into this adventure. And that’s where everything doesn’t hum at the same frequency. In the optics that this story arc is meant to be a Year One episode, an origin story for Barry Allen as The Flash, there were way too many ideas in store for a hero in the making. For an accustomed fan, this will undoubtedly seem slightly ambitious, leaving the impression that there’s barely any room left after this story for new discoveries or further development of the character or the world. For a newcomer, this will, however, be exciting as it lays out in the open almost all of The Flash’s secret weapons.

To accompany this origin story is a superbly colourful and explosive artwork. Despite minor facial design flaws that distract you from the excellent movement mechanisms utilized to display The Flash’s abilities, this story arc contains very electric and exciting visuals. The roughness of the penciling unleashed amidst Barry Allen’s high-paced and chaotic learning curve offers readers a stimulating experience that never slows down. The emotional depth of the iconic hero is properly conveyed in his journey of discovery and is felt through the character’s mannerisms and behaviours. Although he’s almost forced into a destiny, making you doubt in his free will, the artwork exposes the hero’s rapid growth as a hero and illustrates his confidence through trial and error. Leave it to the colouring to juice this story with life, verging on psychedelic but not quite, while still capturing the joyful nature of Barry Allen in the middle of his heroic plight.

The Flash: Year One is a dazzling and slightly ambitious exploration of a forensic scientist’s journey to becoming Central City’s greatest hero.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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18 comments

  • Being a die hard MCU fan I’m not sure why I haven’t tried to read the comics, but you’re posts are making me want to correct this 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      • 😉 it seems to me that origin stories were once quite… Maybe not rare, but definitely not common. These days, though, it seems like a badge of honor for every comic book writer to come up with a brand new origin story for one or more established heroes… I know that creating a new intriguing and lasting hero is much more difficult, bit I should think it would also be much more rewarding 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        • You’re definitely right. The longer you’ve been a fan of superhero comics, the more you realize that there are some stories that are “updated” or “renewed” with different writers and artists. I won’t complain about their existence since I see them as an entry point for newcomers, and something to entertain fans, especially if the writers/artists are good to our eyes. Take Frank Miller’s Superman: Year One… You’d think that origin stories for Clark Kent have been done too many times, but the idea that Miller would do one like he did for Batman seems like an incontournable. Of course, if you know what Miller has become as a writer/artist today, you know it’s a bad idea though hahaha

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh, some of them are brilliant – I love Busiek’s Superman: Secret Identity for example. I really enjoyed Loeb/Sale color trilogy Hulk: Grey and Daredevil: Yellow, and Spider-Man: Blue is still one of my favorite Spider-Man comics.
            But many new superhero origin stories could easily not exist and I wouldn’t regret it one bit 😜 they’re derivative, redundant, and they often simplify the hero to the point of idiocy. They still can be a good entry point, though 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  • So let me summarize: what you didn’t like was the overabundance of ideas packed into this book right? That’s a pity as I find the art so great!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep! Barry Allen is a forensic scientist, so imagine the dude then becoming the fastest man alive. Sort of makes him a “speedy detective”. Which is why his stories can be quite fun! 😀 And yes, the artwork isn’t AMAZING, but it works well and is consistent. It’s all you can ask for! 😀 Thank you for reading, Caroline!

      Liked by 1 person

  • The fact that all of the secret weapons have already been revealed does not nullify the need for following comics. It’s all about romance and drama that needs to happen for anything to sell. (Yes, there is some sarcasm in my comment.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha indeed. They exposed way too much of his powers for his first run (pun intended) as a superhero, while also tackling his family/love life. Since it’s a stand-alone origin story, there won’t be continuation from this, so my issues aren’t so bad too either hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome review Lashaan…it had a rather poetic quality to it and left me with a clear impression of Flash: Year One. I think it’s one I’ll eventually check out, it’s always a shame when there are too many ideas thrown into the mix but with that in mind it should still be fairly enjoyable. I usually a bit underwhelmed with Howard Porter’s art – his Flash chapters in “The Button” were an obvious drop in quality in between Jason Fabok but it sounds as though, mixed with the evocative colours his work is a good fit for this particular story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Chris. I appreciate the kind words. I definitely agree. I’m sure you’ll have fun with this one despite the flaw I pointed out. As an analogy, think of it like getting a Batman: Year One where you see all of his gadgets and vehicles in ONE story arc. I just found this a bit too ambitious, then again it’s still fun to see them in action.

      Yep, I think his artwork works better in this one. I wouldn’t put it high on the list of top artists but it’s still consistent and has style. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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