February 6, 2003
By Avi Green
I am now offering up three more reviews of recent Flash issues, at
your super speedy service, readers!
Flash #189: Messengers
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Rick Burchett
Well, it’s been a week in Keystone City since the new Rogues’
Gallery tried – and failed – to rob the city and its townsfolk and
target Wally West (as seen in the last issues over here)
in the process. So now, our hero and his beautiful wife, having
recently discovered to their surprise that Linda is pregnant, are
taking some time to entertain themselves and take a rest. Regular
artist Scott Kolins also took a rest for this issue – and the next –
letting special guest artist Burchett draw this issue (although
Kolins did draw the cover, taking over that chore from the recently
departed Brian Bolland), which, as evidenced by the issue to follow,
appears to be a good idea, since that takes place in another part of
the country that the guest artist seems more familiar with that area
and knows more about how to handle it.
After taking some time to skate at the city ice rink, Wally takes
off to pay a visit to several of his friends and some other notable
people (“Checking in with friends and family”) such as the
former nemesis of Green Lantern, Keith Kenyon, formerly know as Goldface,
now reformed and serving as mayor of Keystone City, who’s also the
chairman of the city worker’s union.
Thanks in part to Wally, and also to the members of the union, the
former Goldface was exonerated of any wrongdoing, and is now trying
again to make good as the city’s mayor. It’s amazing as to how a man
who gave Hal Jordan such a hard time years ago is now proving
himself capable of being such a good defender of the city he’s now
leading. With any luck, we’ll be seeing more of the ex-Goldface in
future stories as well.
Wally then goes on to pay a visit to Jesse Quick, looking adorable
as ever, who’s been getting her company, Quick-Start Enterprises,
back on track, to the home of Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick and his
lving wife Joan in Denver, where Joan has thankfully recovered, and
it was revealed in the last issue of Impulse #89 that Jay’s
archnemesis, the Rival, was behind the deception that Joan was
supposedly more ill than they thought. It’s good to see that
everything’s turned out allright for the Garrick’s, and for Wally’s
younger cousin Bart, alias Impulse, too, and that they too are
getting back on track, and are ready to return to Keystone as soon
Wally then heads back, this time to Central City across the Van
Buren bridge, to visit his fomer partner in the Teen Titans, Vic
Stone/Cyborg, to pay him a visit as well. It’s a great scene that
serves very well to emphasize the friendship they’ve had since their days as former teen
superheros. And Vic, delighfully, shows that while a lot, if not all
of him, may be machine, he’s still quite human as can be, and has a
great sense of humor.
Finally, he goes to visit his beloved Aunt Iris, who’s been paying
another visit to her adoptive dad, Ira West, and with her, is not
just her new stepson, Josh Jackam, but also another guest whom Wally
knows but whom I’ll leave for the readers to find out.
It’s so great to see Iris West Allen, the wife of the 2nd Flash,
Barry Allen, and who in 1971 found out that she was actually born in
the 30th century, back to live in the Central/Keystone area after
living in all but secrecy for the past few years, all because she
was worried about possibly affecting the future of Wally and
company, which was really just ridiculous. I’m hoping that more use
will be made out of her in the near future, and I’m interested in
seeing how her relationship will be with her new um, boyfriend.
It’s a very pleasant “taking a break and
breather” issue, and Johns once again scores with strong
characterization for all the characters, with Wally’s visit to Vic
scoring the best moment. Burchett as the artist does a very good
tribute to the Silver Age, one of the best things about this run on
the title by Johns, and it’s interesting to note that Linda looks
more authentically Oriental here than she does in the past years
under artists like Oscar Jiminez.
And if there’s anything here that’s really surprising that I think I
will tell about here for now, it’s that – gasp! – Girder’s been
stood erect again, apparently welded back together by S.T.A.R Labs.
Now that really took me by surprise. Looks like the Flash is going
to be getting himself a hefty nemesis yet again.
And who, as asked on the cover, is it who escaped from Iron Heights?
Well, that’s something that’ll be discussed in the next review!
Flash #190: Rat Race
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Rick Burchett
The man who escaped from Iron Heights whom Wally was hoping to get
transferred and exonerated, was Hartley Rathaway, the former Pied
Piper, who was framed for murdering his own parents by the Mirror
Master, the Rogues’ Gallery’s way of getting back at him for
reforming. He’s travelled up to Chicago, where the former Trickster,
James Jesse, now reformed (or is he?), is now working as an FBI
After a brief scuffle in which Jesse angrily tells Rathaway he can’t
help a killer, which he isn’t, so the latter runs off to another
part of Chicago, and on the way, narrates his background, telling
about how he’d started off being born deaf, but managed to get
hearing implants, and then later, after a quarrel with his parents,
a pair of rich residents of Central City, decided to take up a
criminal career, and became one of the notable adversaries of Flash
2/Barry Allen’s many years ago. He developed many musical
instruments at the time which could let out deadly charges of music,
and then subsequently joined the Rogues’ Gallery in Central City at
What’s impressive about this issue is that unlike the story in Green Lantern #154, in which
Judd Winick shoved a heavy-handed story about gay-bashing down the
reader’s throat, with no proper explanation as to why the culprits
are so full of hate for their victims, this story on the other hand
deals with other, better stuff than Rathaway’s own gayness which he
admitted to in 1991, and the part about his being gay is wisely
excluded to the background. Best of all, unlike the part in GL #156,
in which Winick depicts Terry Berg’s parents as flat stereotypes who
say that their son’s lifestyle is to blame for what he’s been
through, while Rathaway’s parents were crummy, they’re in no ways
depicted here as one-dimensional stereotypes; their depiction is
honest (as he says, “mine were stuck up snobs. Sterile. But they
weren’t…monsters.” ), and doesn’t set out to villify them the
way that Winick did in his story in Green Lantern.
The Piper goes to meet another former villian whom he seeks help
from, whom I won’t reveal here, but who was also a fomer Rogue, and
whom I will say once had a partnership with another villain who was
spotlighted earlier last year.
Overall, while not 100% perfect, it’s well done, and with that being
told about now, let me now proceed to the next issue.
Flash #191: The
Brave and the Beaten
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Scott Kolins
We’re back to focus in Keystone City now (not to mention the clever
artwork of Kolins, which is perfect for the current style of the
book), and the focus this time is on Wally West’s sexy wife Linda,
who quit her job as a TV journalist a few years ago to attend
medical school instead. And it seems that she’s got to deal with a
suspicious classmate named Cliff, who turns out to be none other
than Brother Grimm, the other-worldly villain from a kingdom called
Eastwind, who wants to claim Linda as his own bride and conquer
Keystone as well, unleashing a horde of dragons upon the city to aid
him in his conquest. Luckily for Wally, who should happen by in an
airship at that moment other than Hawkman!
Sometimes a team-up between two crimefighters can yield some very
good storytelling, and here too, it shows, with Carter Hall, as
Hawkman calls himself regularly, helping Wally to fly up past the
beanstalk that’s sprung up in the city center which rumbles to
prevent him from ascending it himself, and arrives to rescue Linda
from the unkind attentions of Brother Grimm.
(Not to worry, Linda’s already taken a pretty good measure of her
own to rescue herself, in this case, by dealing Grimm a nice good
slap on the face, just like a woman, one of the parts that I liked
Once again, Johns gives us another good tribute to the Silver Age
with relish, and the revelation about Grimm’s disguise turned out to
be a very good left fielder, very honestly done. The dialogue
between Flash and Hawkman was sharp and right on, and the part where
Hawkman tells him “They say you’d make your uncle very proud,”
was a highlight of the issue.
I do hope that there’ll be another team-up between these two
superheros again someday, and this one was quite a treat for fans of
So until the next issue, let’s all relish this smart little gem
here, and enjoy a good homage to the adventures of the Silver Age.
Avi Green, who ought to get a pair of wings like Hawkman’s, can
be reached at email@example.com
2010 update: as of this
writing, I no longer stand by this review. I have since changed my
opinion and written these off as garbage, as explained over here.
Copyright 2002 Avi Green. All rights reserved.
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