Title: The Flash.
Story-arc: Year One.
Writer(s): Joshua Williamson.
Artist(s): Howard Porter.
Letterer(s): Steve Wands.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: November 19th, 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
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.
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.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!