Review: Flash Vol. 19: The One-Minute War trade paperback (DC Comics)

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As is too often the case, this run is about over just as it’s getting good. Jeremy Adams' tenure has been an overall improvement on Flash of recent years, even if the quality hasn’t been even issue to issue. But when it’s working, it’s working, and Flash Vol. 19: The One-Minute War is on point.

Above all else, this reads like one of Mark Waid’s classic, epic Flash events, “Terminal Velocity” or “Dead Heat” or the like, which is good company to be in. As with Dark Crisis, what with the return of the Justice Society and all the Young Justice characters and etc., indeed Adams' story feels like it fits in the Waid/Geoff Johns era, like the DCU and the Flash family are finally in a place where the adventures seamlessly connect with DC’s pre-Flashpoint continuity.

Really Adams has the best of all worlds here — a heroes versus villains story that blessedly relies on little outside knowledge and doesn’t tie into any decades-old Crisis, but that does also finesse a few notable aspects of Flash continuity that really needed finessing. One-Minute War is not a slam dunk — it maybe goes on about a minute too long (see what I did there?) — but its softness is in the middle, between a strong start and surprising finish. I’ll take it, and Adams surely has my confidence going into his next DC projects.

[Review contains spoilers]

I like stories to be relevant and I like stories to be connected, but it’s fewer and farther between than I’d like that we get a good, complicated but essentially simple alien invasion story like One-Minute War where the heroes have to repel cosmic marauding hordes (think the Superman classic “Panic in the Sky”). If I might otherwise be inclined to dismiss a story where the heroes are right and the villains are wrong and nothing within that changes, Adams packs this with so much — the alien Fraction’s rich history, that speedsters across the Multiverse are specifically being hunted if not also discriminated against, the wild late-book turns as relates to Heroes in Crisis and etc. — that the story hardly feels simple even if built on a generic premise.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

The whole family is here — Barry and Wally (who, if you think about it, have almost never shared a story like this before), Jay Garrick, Jesse Quick, Max Mercury, Impulse Bart Allen and Kid Flash Wallace West and Irey West (all three of whom at one point seemed replacements for the others, until DC finally figured out how to make them coexist). And I appreciated that Adams gives them all moments to shine, if not necessarily plotlines (this too reminds of Waid, and is better than Flash Vol. 18: The Search for Barry Allen, where Jesse and Max were mostly window dressing). I like Jay as the “tough,” sneaking around an alien ship with a laser gun; Jesse as cool aunt to Irey; and Bart and Wallace as “frenemies.”

Among aforementioned continuity notes, Barry’s individual plot regards the apparent death of girlfriend Iris on the very day both Barry and Iris planned to propose to the other. Adams puts it more plainly than writer Joshua Williamson did in a hundred issues before this, that with all the continuity shenanigans, Barry and Iris do remember that they were married, they’re just not any more (I wouldn’t want to be a county clerk in the DCU having to negotiate all that!).

It’s unfortunate, in a book already dealing with the awkwardness of “the” Flash Barry Allen being second fiddle to former sidekick Wally West in a Flash family event, that Adams also has to evoke a Williamson-esque “sad Barry” given Iris' seeming demise (I thought Barry was supposed to be the optimistic hero!). But, I can’t argue with Barry and Iris getting engaged as a major climactic set piece of this story; it’s fun and it's romantic and it works.

The other part — which I wasn’t expecting and which completely floored me — was Wally getting sucked into the Speed Force and emerging among a time-lost super-team made up of all the heroes he “killed” during Heroes in Crisis (and a dinosaur). I might’ve liked to see Lagoon Boy, Gunfire, and the rest released to our time instead of reintegrated into the timestream (because who knows what that means?), but what a pleasant surprise nonetheless. I’m glad to see Gold Beetle again (I hope Adams takes her with him in his travels), and I was impressed the extent to which, here at the almost-end of Adams' Flash run, he’s pulling small moments even from Flash Vol. 16: Wally West Returns and using them here.

I was maybe half-convinced Iris wouldn’t be resurrected before the end of the story; let’s nobody think Iris would be gone for good, but I didn’t know if Adams might draw that out for a bit. About the time Wally seemed to die, however, I thought maybe One-Minute War was going on a little long; though it facilitated of course the “Planet Flash” moment, we definitely knew Wally wasn’t dead, so Linda and Irey’s mourning — through to artist Roger Cruz' melodramatic depiction of Barry with rivers of tears down his face — slowed the proceedings too much for me. Things picked up though indeed with that “Planet Flash” and into the conclusion.

The Flash family is back in Flash Vol. 19: The One-Minute War and really that’s no small thing — not to mention Jeremy Adams even managed to work in Avery Ho and resurrect Godspeed before all is said and done. Again, this is a high point and speaks well for Adams, and definitely makes me feel the end of his run is coming too soon with the next volume.

[Includes original and variant covers, character sketches]

Rating 3.0

Comments ( 1 )

  1. Thanks for the reminder to get around to this one. Seems like Adams did some good meat-and-potatoes Flash stuff in his run, and I like what I've read of it. (I read the first arc, the Doctor Fate issue, and the Dark Crisis tie-in -- I'm a sucker for meta multiversity, I suppose)

    Interesting that DC "pre-collected" One-Minute War with a "Start the Clock" floppy collecting the first three issues. They must have had a lot of faith in this one.


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