Comic Book Review: Flash #231

The Revolution enjoyed All-Flash #1 and the triumphant return of Wally West. This title resumes the old numbering from when The Flash was cancelled in favor of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. I think Mark Waid is a fine choice for the writer to head up this new direction for the Flash.

Having said that, I am curious to see if a title centering on a hero who is married with kids will be appealing comic book readers. I’m also worried about DC’s choice of artist for The Flash. Daniel Acuna has a distinctive style, but it is one that is going to put off many readers and also gets old quickly. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Flash #231.

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Daniel Acuña

Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the Keystone ferry sinking off the port of Keystone City. Suddenly, Wally’s kids appear on the scene and begin to save all the passengers. The son can increase the size and density of his muscles giving him super human strength and resiliency. The daughter can phase through material objects. The Flash then arrives on the scene and takes out the fire that had erupted on the ferry.

The news crew on the scene approaches the kids to interview them. The son begins to talk just when a blur whisks by and grabs the two kids. We see the Flash carrying his kids home and reminding them that they promised their mother to start out under the radar until he and their mom feel the kids are ready for a public debut. Flash says Linda is going to freak if she sees them on television.

The Flash and the kids arrive at the house to see Linda (who now sports an absolutely hideous soccer mom haircut) watching the kids on the local news report. Linda tells the kids to go in the basement to the lab and get ready for Linda to run some diagnostic tests on them.

The kids walk downstairs and then we see the sister phase her and her brother through the wall outside of their parents’ view so that they can listen in on the conversation. Linda reassures Wally that she approves of the kids being super heroes. They two talk about how worried they were that both kids would have Wally’s powers and they would turn out to be “Tornado Twins.”
The children aged rapidly as their metabolism kicked into super speed. They were lucky they were on a planet with a history with Flashes past and they owed them. Linda made a plea to the Royal Court and they granted her all of their advanced techno-biological equipment to help monitor the children.

Linda angrily smacks away a picture of the family all together. Linda says she stands with Wally and that their children have to follow in Wally’s footsteps and they both know why. The kids look at each other with a quizzical look.

Linda goes to her basement lab and begins running tests on the two kids. The son then asks Linda why the Ferry crashed into the Dock. Linda doesn’t answer and gives a look to the daughter.

We cut to Wally racing around thinking about his origin as Kid Flash. We see a local news report talking about the two young kids who appeared today at the Ferry accident. The reporter vows that she will not rest until she uncovers the kids secrets. Their names and their relationship to the Flash legacy.

We shift to the dawn of the next day. Flash and his kids are investigating the scene of the Ferry crash. They are looking for evidence of tampering. Flash hops into the river and checks out the bottom of the river for clues.

Flash is at the river bottom when he sees a weird sea monster that attacks him. Flash races back to the surface of the river. There, the Flash sees a whole bunch more weird sea monsters on the land attacking his kids. End of issue.

The Good: Waid definitely has a great feel for Wally’s character and it shows in this issue. Waid crafts some nice dialogue as each character flashes their own unique personalities. Waid creates some nice chemistry between the members of the West family. The reader gets a nice sense for the conflict raging inside Linda concerning letting her children assume roles as super heroes. The two siblings behave and interact with each other just like a brother and sister would in real life. Waid creates some quality banter than runs back and forth between the siblings.

Flash #231 is well paced. Waid gives the reader just enough background information on Wally’s kids to pique our interest, but keeping plenty a secret for future issues. We get a fairly good balance between action and dialogue in this issue.

I liked Waid’s little reference to the “Tornado Twins” when the two siblings joked about being called if they both had speed powers. I thought it was a cool twist by Waid to have the children have powers connected to speed in some form, but not giving them actual super speed powers.

This move makes the kids more unique and distinguishes from the speedsters that populate the DCU. Making the two kids speedsters would have been way to predictable and unoriginal. This move serves to make the kids more unique and interesting and allows them to carve out their own niche in the DCU separate from the legacy of the speedsters. Plus, we already have enough speedsters and don’t really need two more.

And what was up with Linda’s cryptic statement that the kids have to follow in Wally’s footsteps and that they both know why? That certainly got my interest. This should prove to be an interesting plotline that Waid can further develop in future issues.

I also liked the additional information we got on the planet that Wally and Linda went to when Wally disappeared during Infinite Crisis. We now know that the planet had a history with past Flashes and that those Flashes helped save this planet. I have no idea what planet this could be. However, the connection to past Flashes definitely gets me interested in learning more about where Wally and Linda went and why.

Honestly, the best part of this issue was seeing the title revert back to simply “The Flash” and the numbering resume from where it left off just before Infinite Crisis. And having Wally back just feels right.

The Bad: Honestly, Flash #231 was a bit of a disappointment for me. Maybe my expectations for this issue were unfairly high, but this was simply a ho-hum average read. Not much really happened in this issue. We learned more about Wally’s kids, but that just didn’t interest me. I buy the Flash because I want to read about the adventures of Wally West. I’m not all that interested in reading about the adventures of Wally’s kids.

A longtime supporter of the Revolution made the excellent observation that the set-up that Waid has created on this title of Wally, Linda and the two kids is very similar to The Incredibles. And this format for a comic book is highly unusual for a comic book. Usually, the hero is single. And if the hero is married, like Peter Parker, there usually aren’t any kids in the picture.

There are several good reasons why most heroes are single. That is because the younger demographic of comic book readers really don’t want to read about an old married couple. Also, reading about a married couple can be more boring than reading about a single person going through the drama of dating and trying to find their way in the world. Add two kids to a married couple and you have the ultimate in boring.

When the obvious similarity to the Incredibles was first mentioned, I dismissed it as being nothing more than a coincidence. Yeah, it had a married superhero with two young super hero kids. But, I thought that is where the similarities were going to end. I was wrong.

This issue definitely read like DC’s version of The Incredibles. The two rambunctious, annoyingly precocious and over-eager super powered kids, the approving super hero father and the disapproving mother. Yeah, I know Linda “says” she approves, but you can tell that deep down inside she doesn’t.

I have to say that I’m not too sure that I’m digging this Incredibles feel to Waid’s story. I have a feeling that this may get old real fast for me. And, unfortunately, I don’t see a way out of this current situation. You can’t just have the two kids killed off. That would devastate Wally and make him one of the most depressing characters in the DCU.

The story in this issue was pretty lackluster. We didn’t get that much action and what we got wasn’t all that great. We got tons of dialogue that wasn’t very compelling or intriguing. Other than the attack of the strange monsters at the very end, nothing happened in this issue.

And even the ending with the attack of the monsters did nothing for me. I don’t recognize the monsters; therefore, this ending was nothing more than a generic monster attack “cliffhanger” ending.

I was really expecting more from this issue than what we got. Maybe my expectations were just too unrealistically high for Flash #231. But All Star Flash #1 was such an excellent read, that I felt justified in expecting big things on this title. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but Guggenheim’s final story arc on Flash: Fastest Man Alive is better than what Waid gave us with Flash #231.

Now let’s talk about the artwork to this issue. Daniel Acuna is certainly talented. And I really enjoyed his artwork when I first saw it over on the Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. I had never seen his work before and his highly distinctive style immediately caught my eye.

However, Acuna’s artwork is definitely an acquired taste. And strangely enough, the more I see Acuna’s artwork, the less I like it. Acuna’s thickly painted art lacks detail and gives the issue a bit of a messy look to it. Acuna’s artwork gives this issue a very muddy and dark. I think Acuna would be better served delivering the art on a dark, offbeat title that deals with the work of magic. I hope that DC makes a quick artist change for the Flash.

Overall: I was really disappointed with Flash #231. It wasn’t that this issue was a terrible read, it’s just I was expecting a lot more than what we got. I still have confidence in Waid being able to make the Flash a consistently good read. I think that Wally fans will just be happy to have their boy back and will enjoy this issue for that reason alone. Bart fans will probably gripe that this is a step back from what we got near the end of Flash: Fastest Man Alive. And Barry fans? I guess we just have to hope that Alex Ross pushes for a Barry Allen mini-series like he delivered with Justice.

1 thought on “Comic Book Review: Flash #231

  1. Hey! My first post, well I read Flash and it looks like Linda is turning into a villain or at least very suspicious. If this is true then Im disappointed in the way they are treating the JLA wives. First Sue, then Jean, now maybe Linda. Hope I’m wrong

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