Review: Flash #750: The Deluxe Edition hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

I can't quantify this necessarily but it feels rare for the Flash to get a hardcover, all-star special like the Flash #750: The Deluxe Edition volume. I guess these kinds of books are all the rage these days, but given Detective Comics #1000 plus Detective Comics #1027, and the Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special followed by the Wonder Woman #750 book, it feels like these kinds of things are the realm of DC's Big Three, and for the Flash to get an anthology is rare and special.

But it does seem rather clear the shine is not here. This is a nice Flash party, to be sure, but it contains only six stories plus Barry Allen's debut from Showcase #4, whereas the Wonder Woman #750: The Deluxe Edition contained nine stories plus Diana's debut issue. Of these, three are stories related to other DC events or series and two of those are also collected elsewhere. The net effect is that this seems like the sparsest of celebrations; no expense wasn't spared, essentially, whereas the Wonder Woman book (and Detective #1027 before that) better utilized the hero and their supporting cast and was more far-reaching.

Throughout the Rebirth era I've felt DC Comics has a Flash problem — a take on Barry Allen that I don't like, at least, even if DC does, and a failure to capitalize on the Flash TV show when it was popular, letting alone in its waning years. What this anniversary book could have been, versus what it is, does nothing to convince me DC has a better plan in place at present. I know nothing about the new team coming on to the Flash title presently, but it will surely take a strong group with a strong vision to get one of DC's premier heroes back on track.

[Review contains spoilers]

The lead story here is by Joshua Williamson, the first part of his "Flash Age" storyline (also collected in Flash Vol. 14: The Flash Age). Like Steve Orlando in Wonder Woman #750, Williamson does well spinning a tale that both works for "Flash Age" and has an anniversary-type bent to it — here, taking a look at what Flash Barry Allen means to the people of Central City. This is an auspicious beginning, replete with alt-continuity images of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Flashpoint, and Barry and Flash Jay Garrick in "Flash of Two Worlds."

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I do have difficulty separating this first part from the fact that "Flash Age" was ultimately disappointing overall. Also I favor slightly more Orlando's approach, which was ending his "Wild Hunt" storyline in Wonder Woman #750 by reestablishing Diana's mission and giving her some new powers and weapons. Williamson tells us who Flash is, while Orlando tells us who Wonder Woman is becoming. I can see how maybe kicking off a storyline is better (a jumping-on point rather than a jumping off), but part one of "Flash Age" feels like (and turns out to be) just more of the same instead of something new at this inflection point.

It comes as no great surprise that my favorite story in this book is "Beer Run" by classic Flash (Wally West) team of Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins. It is among the stories "original" to this issue but, it bears mentioning, is really only mildly a Wally story and actually a Captain Cold story. That's not unwelcome — Johns and Kolin's take on Cold is among the standout things about that run — and were this one story among many that dealt with all the facets of the Flash legacy, there'd be no problem. But as a matter of fact, the moral of this story is essentially that Leonard Snart's just trying to live his life and Wally haugtily takes him for worse than he is, and that's a bad look for Team Flash at a full one-third of this issue's original stories.

Like Johns and Kolins, I was equally glad to see Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul here. In the absence of William Messner-Loebs and Greg LaRocque or like Mark Waid and Oscar Jimenez, it's fitting at least that DC got Buccellato and Manapul, who did great, cinematic work on the New 52 Flash. Manapul looks as good as ever (even, dare I say, among the best Flash artists), and I believe colors himself particularly well here.

Unfortunately the team's story is relatively dry, prefaced on the tired idea that left-alone Iris is cool and all with Barry standing her up to be the Flash and go save the world ... but why does it have to be Barry who does it? The authors' point is that we all have heroism within us, but in awkwardly getting there Flash's co-star comes off whiny.

And, shockingly, that's about all Flash #750 offers in terms of established Flash teams; the other "original" story is by Marv Wolfman and Riley Rossmo. Wolfman does have experience writing the Flash — though Wally, not Barry — in New Teen Titans, but he's not a name often associated with the Flash (short of knocking off Barry Allen in Crisis on Infinite Earths). The story is an ode to the Flash's famous Silver Age transformations, and Rossmo drawing a catcus-handed Flash is nothing to dismiss. But it's a low-stakes story overall, and that Wolfman was all DC could find for this (eschewing even any diversity among the main creative lineup) speaks to the halfheartedness of the book.

Williamson returns for a second story, starring Jay Garrick, following from Wonder Woman #750 and meant, if I understood it, to lead in to the "Generations" event, though now the end of the story says "Continued in Flash in 2020." I'm not sure any more if that's Williamson's run or the run after his or if this story won't actually be continued after all. Similarly, Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth's Wally West epilogue from Flash Forward is also here, cancelled as it was from a "Generation Zero" Free Comic Book Day issue, though it also appeared in the miniseries' own collection.

2.25

Rating

That makes it, pin-ups aside, just Jay, Barry, and Wally featured in this book — no Kid Flash spotlight; nothing with like Kid Flash and Impulse and Avery, which might've been cool; nor like Devin Grayson or someone on an old-continuity Jesse Quick story (not even, for gosh sakes, a DC Bombshells story!). To read Flash #750: The Deluxe Edition, one couldn't be faulted for thinking the Flash world is pretty small, which is not the case. It's become small, however, as this book reflects, and I hope there's someone on the way who can make it bigger.

[Includes original and variant covers]

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2 comments:

  1. Re: Williamson's Jay Garrick story...

    Without giving too much away, that story DOES come back into play in Williamson's final issues. It's quietly setting up a major element of Finish Line (I can't say any more without spoiling things).

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    1. That was my other guess. Here's hoping for good things from the last volume!

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