The Flash Annual #1 Review
With DC’s releases of annuals this year having been entirely lackluster, I was already reluctant to dish out the five dollars for The Flash Annual #1. Really, I can’t pinpoint what compelled me to buy this copy. Maybe it was the expectation of annuals being a break from series’ usual storylines. Perhaps it was the hope of finding a diamond in the rough when DC has released an event which proved to generally be boring or badly written. If the latter was the case, this annual is not what I was looking for.
This year’s edition was released in September of 2012. The story is penned mainly by Francis Manapul (Witchblade, The Necromancer) and broken up into five chapters. The art was commissioned to a handful of artists, with their work separated by chapter. While this format in comic-making has been utilized before and has been successful for other titles and storylines in the past, I just don’t feel it worked out too well for this publication. It produced a disjointed path for the story and just didn’t have a natural flow to it. This wasn’t helped by how the art style changed from chapter to chapter. Between reading the story and paying attention to the art, I was constantly plagued with one word of opinion breaking into my brain: Meh.
Warning: The following lunatic-rant has a spoiler or two in it, but I promise it isn’t much.
There simply is nothing original about this story from beginning to end. While I get the concept of the villains being presented as professional heist engineers, it just didn’t work. In fact, they came off as second-tier, unprofessional thugs with fancy guns. A Justice-Leaguer like The Flash deserves better. The writer’s attempt to remedy this also falls short; though using an idea posited as scientific, really, he seemed to have just pulled it out of thin air and left it mostly unexplained. So lacking in cohesion and originality is the story that I really shouldn’t have been surprised by the final page of the book. How many comic books have ended like this? A new menace falls out of the sky,
destroying an entire city block and all the taxi cabs in it, without any link to the story! And it happens in the last page! HOLY CRAP, SURPRISE! Sorry.
End spoiler alert.
One redeeming factor in this book is some of the art. While the cover is boring, uninspired, and reminiscent of an 80s comic book (Really? “vs. The Rogues” in letters made of snow across 50% of the paper?), there are some nice drawings within these pages, particularly in chapters one and three. I was especially pleased by the drawings of Marcus To (Robin Hood, Huntress) in the first chapter. The rest of the book seems cartoonish and some of the work gives me the impression that these were half-hearted attempts at drawing comic book panels.
After reading a few annuals from DC this year, I’m led to believe they’re just pushing this out because they’re supposed to release annuals every year at five bucks a pop. This latest one for The Flash pretty much marks the end of my purchasing 2012’s yearly releases. Though I really do have to thank DC for saving my waistline, because I could’ve purchased a few Baconators with that money.