Review: Flash Vol. 17: Eclipsed trade paperback (DC Comics)


I’m so, so pleased with Jeremy Adams' Flash Vol. 17: Eclipsed. Not only is it a big improvement on his previous Flash volume, hearkening back to the humor and depth of DC knowledge shown in Adams' “Future State” work, but it potentially also course corrects from more than a decade before. That’s a lot of pressure on Adams' shoulders, but so far (for now), so good.

[Review contains spoilers]

Eclipsed is about the first time Wally West has appeared as the titular Flash in Flash book since the late 2000s (give or take Adams' Flash Vol. 16: Wally West Returns, which had a significant helping of Barry Allen), essentially since Flash: The Wild Wests.

That book, of course, came in something of an uncertain period for the Flash franchise — Geoff Johns departing the Wally West Flash title saw DC try and fail to do something different, setting Impulse Bart Allen as the Flash. Then, what seemed a surefire hit — reuniting Wally with his other best known writer, Mark Waid — also failed to catch on, and that was it for Wally West. The burgeoning of superheroes in film and TV led to an interest in simplifying DC’s properties, coinciding with the New 52, and Barry Allen would be DC’s Flash for the next 10 years or more, with Wally in limbo for a good portion of that.

There’s a valid “what if” to be considered, if Wild Wests had taken the shelves by storm, whether fans would have seen more Wally and less Barry over the last decade. I’d argue even that two lessons were taken from Wild Wests' failure, which defined comics for the next decade but both of which seem to have been proven false by the current market: that it would make for a simpler, better Flash franchise (and Teen Titans, and etc.) if Barry Allen and not his grown-up sidekick were the Flash, and that a premise like Wild Wests, about Wally-the-dad palling around and superheroing with his two young kids, isn’t what modern readers want to read about.

We’ve come a long way since then — through Jon Kent and Damian Wayne, Super Sons; DC’s renewed tolerance for multiple Superboys, Blue Beetles, Batgirls, and Robins all coexisting; and the unceasing calls for Wally’s return and the halting restoration of his past — to end up back where we started: Eclipsed sees Wally palling around and (to an extent) superheroing with this two young kids. To poorly paraphrase Marty McFly, perhaps audiences weren’t ready for Wally and his family a decade ago, but today’s readers seem to love it.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

In fairness to pre-New 52 decision-making, Wild Wests wasn’t very good. As I noted some 12 years ago, Waid’s story lacked in compelling conflict and the art was subpar for a book of that caliber. All of which reinforces the sense of Adams doing Wild Wests again, the right way — a variety of creative turns, high-stakes conflict, great guest-stars, and Fernando Pasarin sticking around on art for at least another volume.

There was not an issue in Eclipsed where I didn’t think Adams was on the right track (again, in contrast also to Wally West Returns). The initial two-part story is overtly simple, with Wally up against what seems a far less threatening Heat Wave than normal, really more a vehicle for Adams to set up Wally’s new status quo. But even there, Adams populates the happenings with workplace humor, cool use of the Flash’s powers, and sentiment that could be treacly but comes off pitch perfect for Wally and his character. Adams' tale of a daddy-daughter dance gone awry could also be overly sentimental, except for the great balance Adams strikes in making young Irey and Jai West a little sassy, a little devious, without making either unlikable.

Indeed, among a variety of excellent and unexpected appearances is Maxine Baker, daughter of Animal Man Buddy Baker, new school friend of Irey’s, and apparently something of a con artist of the elementary school set. Maxine getting Irey and Jai in trouble (and then getting to use her powers in the book’s climax) is a ton of fun, and goes a long way toward endearing all three kids to the reader. And aside from great uses of the Justice League Dark and the Spectre (maybe DC should consider putting Adams on a JLD book?), that Adams drops Starbreaker into the middle of Eclipsed earns him a special place in my heart. (Adams showed a penchant for good cameos in his “Future State: Black Adam” story, collected in Future State: Suicide Squad.)

Hearkening perhaps to the Flash franchise’s Silver Age connections, Adams includes in the book a fourth-wall-breaking story where not only is the reader invited to rotate the book every which way, but then also there’s a scavenger hunt back through the book at the end. The whole thing’s a gimmick but also relates to the book’s forward action, a joyful use of comics that seems synonymous with Adams. And I was continually impressed with Adams' attention to the small details — the slow progression of the Justice League Dark getting “Eclipsoed” in the background of issue #777 and the unique recognition of each character, like how Detective Chimp uses his hat to attack the Flash and how an “Eclipsoed” Etrigan still rhymes in Eclipso’s voice.

I’ll nit-pick, as I did in my review of Wally West Returns, about Adams' conception of Linda Park-West and she and Wally’s relationship. This is an experienced superhero spouse (not to mention a woman who once faced off against Kobra toting a laser gun), and yet Adams has her grousing at the outset about how Wally doesn’t get paid for his superheroing (an issue with particular history for Wally West). I don’t mind Linda worrying after Wally’s safety, but Wally’s quip about Linda giving him “an earful for not being home in time for dinner” because he’s out saving the world seems ridiculous. If Adams wouldn’t have Lois Lane say it, I think he ought not have Linda Park say it either.



The range on Flash Vol. 17: Eclipsed really is impressive — there’s an implication that God Himself is watching Wally West, as if the stakes here couldn’t get any higher; also, side-by-side with Fernando Pasarin’s well-drawn but realistic figures, we’ve got a series of wacky variant covers by Batgirls' Jorge Corona and Ivan Plascencia. For over a decade we’ve waited for the return of a Flash Wally West book, and it looks like Jeremy Adams is delivering. Next volume’s out in June.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Comments ( 7 )

  1. Yeah, this has been one of the gems of the Infinite Frontier era.

    Adams' current 'One-Minute War' arc is proving to be one of the most fascinating, unique Flash stories in quite a long time.

    I'm especially excited to see Adams tackle the upcoming Green Lantern relaunch (and I'm hoping it and Flash cross over at some point.)

  2. > a joyful use of comics

    Yes, yes, a thousand times YES. I bought that single issue just on the strength of a few reviews online. I love formal play, and it reminded me of a similar gag early in Snyder/Capullo's run on Batman. Using Doctor Fate seemed like channeling Morrison, too, with the reader directly implicated in the plot, and it was so fun that I'm constantly debating picking up the rest of Adams's run.

  3. OK speak for yourself dude. No one bloody wanted Barry back!! A series focused on Wally and his family is a good idea but suffered from bad execution. If it wasn't for dc, Wally would have stayed the flash for a few more years with no interruptions, before passing the mantle over to Jessie quick, his son adopts his own superhero mantle and his daughter becomes the new kid flash ! Sorry but the new 52 was a silly Decision on the part of dc snd to this day it is still silly. It ruined the concept of legacy and moving forward with the next generation.

    1. > the new 52 was a silly Decision

      Barry came back in 2008, before the New 52 was even a twinkle. Flash Rebirth was 2009.

    2. I think if Sterling Gates' 'Speed Force' spinoff or whatever it was had gone forward (along with that Wally backup feature), reception to Barry's return to the Flash mantle would've gone differently.

      Post-GL: Rebirth Kyle Rayner was the guide for how to *not* sideline a post-Barry Wally and I'm still amazed how badly Johns and DC Editorial (more so the latter) bungled it.

  4. Jeremy Adams is one of the best current writers at DC. He has shown that he is creative and adds to the mythos without sacrificing the history of the character. I have enjoyed his Flash run more than anything else from DC lately. Just great stories wherein the reader can really empathize with Wally as a character. He's always been my Flash, and I am enjoying every minute of him being back. I just hope they don't replace him again with Barry and sideline Wally and the family again.

    1. Feels like Wally's on pretty solid ground not to be replaced for a while ... I hope?


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