Review by Ian Keogh
Joshua Williamson picked up Flash with ‘Rebirth’, which according to who you believe was when DC decided their ‘New 52’ reboots were a mistake and reset their superheroes to the earlier versions, or when they arrived at the always intended point after several years of difference. The Flash spotlighted is Barry Allen, as in the TV show of the time, when out of costume a first rate crime scene investigator for Central City’s police, and Wally West has been missing for a long time. That’s all you really need to know to jump in to what developed into an era-defining run for the Flash, although this is a shaky start.
Carmine Di Giandomenico takes his artistic cue from Scott Kolins’ work, a blocky, yet clear Flash, but with his own designs to indicate speed, a sort of yellow lightning corona around the Flash’s body. Williamson feeds him some material, with the sample page indicating that as fast as he is, Flash can’t be everywhere at once, and the upshot is that after all these years it’s very nice to see another Carmine with a distinctive approach drawing the Flash’s adventures.
Back when Carmine Infantino drew the series there was only the single Flash, then two, but the title reference to lightning striking twice isn’t to do with the artist, but Barry’s police colleague August Heart who also develops speed powers. He’s already festering about his brother’s murderer not facing justice, and he needs Barry’s guidance to avoid taking rash action. However, it seems the Speed Force that’s behind all the super speed powers is feeling exceptionally generous.
Williamson makes Lightning Strikes Twice all about escalation. It applies in multiple respects, referring to speedsters themselves, the actions of main villain Godspeed, to some reactions, to Barry’s love life and another item that moves into spoiler territory. While the plot devices are surprising and well paced, the emotional motivations are also subject to escalation, and that’s not as satisfying. Too many characters are headstrong and ramp from zero to a hundred far too quickly, which may be an odd comment about a series dealing with super speed, but unless Williamson follows up with a plot where the Speed Force is also affecting reasoning then it’s not believable. That cuts deeper because tying into that is Barry having something taken away.
At nine chapters this is a substantial book, and for Di Giandomenico to provide his best he’s spotted for a couple of the middle chapters by Neil Googe and Felipe Watanabe, who’re both good, but work in their own styles rather than attempting to match the established mood. It’s an early intrusion of a theme that will become problematical for this series, yet just a minor glitch here with Di Giandomenico drawing seven of the nine chapters.
With no artistic problems and some solid ideas, Lightning Strikes Twice provides some flawed thrills while also providing a viable introduction to Flash’s world. His exploits continues with Speed of Darkness. Alternatively that’s combined with this as the first hardcover volume of Flash: Rebirth Deluxe Edition.