Review by Frank Plowright
DC may have endlessly trumpeted the praises of their ‘New 52’ rebooted characters, but as far as readers were concerned genuinely readable successes were few and far between. One of them was The Flash. Despite having drawn much of the previous brief incarnation there wasn’t really anything to indicate Francis Manapul would also prove a capable writer, but teamed with Brian Buccellato, better known for his colouring, this content was well crafted and a surprise hit.
Following a brief to reformulate the familiar, Manapul and Buccellato are very successful. It’s back to Barry Allen being the Flash, arranging superheroic exploits between his day job as a police forensic scientist, and the writers gradually reintroduce more and more known items, yet tweak them to make more sense in the 21st century. Flash’s Rogues Gallery are integrated from the beginning, the writers are imaginative when it comes to super speed feats, make good use of the speed force, and restore Flash to a relatively light-hearted and simple superhero series. There are elements that don’t work, Mirror Master’s new sphere of operation for one, but for the most part, if the Flash had to be rebooted, then most fans surely couldn’t have hoped for it to be carried out as well as this.
That’s even before we come to the art. Manapul’s looked closely at Barry Allen’s history and come up with a style that’s simultaneously retro and modern. It’s design led, toying cleverly with logos, and page layouts, but the storytelling is strong, and he opens up into some great pin-ups. When other artists are needed they’re also of a high standard, with Scott Kolins and Chris Sprouse particularly welcome. There’s nothing wrong with the work of Marcio Takara or Marcus To, but neither matches the dynamism of Manapul.
Given the cover price it’s hardly likely anyone’s going to take a random punt on his hefty Omnibus, but just in case, it’s worth knowing the content is also available in cheaper paperback collections Move Forward, Rogues Revolution, Gorilla Warfare and Reverse. Reviews of the components in greater detail can be found by following the links.