The Flash: Move Forward – Francis Manapul

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This was the first solo Flash book I’ve read, and I can’t say that I was disappointed.

The Flash is the alter-ego of Barry Allen, a police scientist who gained superspeed after being simultaneously doused in esoteric chemicals and struck by lightening. His ability to run really fast isn’t the only reason he’s remarkable, he’s also sharp enough to invent a uniform small enough to fit in his ring, which he can make pop out and wear at opportune times. What makes the Flash a fun character is that while he has only one superpower, his writers get very imaginative thinking of new applications of this ability. Manapul has him think really fast, to Sherlock Holmesian levels, and I remember this Justice League comic written by Grant Morrison where the Flash breaks a safe trying every single combination in one second.

Reading this particular book, I was confused about what constituted the character’s status quo – I thought that the protagonist Barry Allen was in a relationship with Iris West, not a coworker. Manapul could’ve done better in introducing new readers to the cast, instead of assuming they’d know who was who. At the very least, I could’ve done with a one-page recap of the Flash’s origin story.

But I overlooked my confusion once the true nature of the main villain, Mob Rule, was revealed. Mob Rule is the former best friend of Barry Allen, a super soldier with regenerative powers so potent that if you were to hack off one of his limbs, it would grow into a clone. So effectively the guy is a one man army. He needs to be in a movie.

The titles of each issue were also beautifully done, with the words being spelt out by objects from the story’s world, like puddles, wreckage or even panels. It’s lovely to see something so reminiscent of Will Eisner’s The Spirit being done in a modern comic.

To any comic fans reading this review, try out Manapul’s Flash run. It starts out slow, but it grows on you. This particular volume promises great things for its sequels.

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