The first issue of Flash: Fastest Man Alive was solid. It wasn’t on the same level of Superman or Aquaman debut issues for their Digital First. But it did get the job done in establishing this new DC Universe in which Barry Allen’s Flash exists in. Gail Simone showed she had a good understanding of how to write Barry’s voice in and out of the Flash costume. Now with the groundwork established I’m interested to see how Simone will explore the Flash’s mythology moving forward. Let’s find out with Flash: Fastest Man Alive #2.
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: A person who goes by the name of Lieutenant Beth Arden lands hard on the ground after going through a time portal. The landing causes Lieutenant Arden’s translator to malfunction so she is unable to understand what the cops that approach her tell her. Seeing that the cops have their nightsticks ready on hand Lieutenant Arden immediately knocks the two out.
Sometime later Flash grabs two kids and their dog while escaping an explosion. Flash takes the kids and their dog safely back to their apartment and assures them that he will defeat the threat to Central City. Flash then runs off to take on the person attacking Central City.
Four hours earlier Barry Allen is with Detective Ulski to investigate a couple that were run over on the subway tracks. Detective Ulski mentions that the subway tunnel has been closed for months due for maintenance.
Barry looks over the bodies and sees that the couple were not run over but thrown out of something like a roller coaster given the traces of carnival food and sawdust. The police captain onsite commends Barry for his findings.
Another police officer arrives and mentions a warning of a bombing was called in for somewhere in Central City.
Barry races off as Flash to track down where the bombs are but can’t find anything.
Suddenly a speed seeking rocket starts chasing Flash. Flash realizes that whatever threat has arrived in Central City they are after him.
The rocket explodes and sends Flash crashing hard on the ground. Lieutenant Arden appears and reveals she is in the present to kill him.
Five hours earlier Lieutenant Arden wakes up after sleeping and thinks about how she will discover Flash’s location. She realizes that to find Flash she will need him to come after her.
Back in the present Lieutenant Arden reveals she is from the 25th century and part of the Speed Force Resistance with her codename being Shift. Flash tries to escape by vibrating through the ground. Seeing this, Shift uses one of her weapons to send an energy through the ground the disrupts Flash’s move and causes an explosion that sends him into a wall.
Flash recovers and attempts to hit Shift before she can act. Shift activates her armor’s special program that allows her to shift ahead in the timeline in order to dodge Flash’s attack. Shift then throws her javelin at Flash.
Flash runs away but the javelin chases him everywhere. Flash acts quickly by vibrating through some bedrock so that the javelin hits that instead.
Flash gets back to Shift’s location and is able to take her knife away when she attacks him. Flash then says he wants to help Shift but needs more information on what is going on.
Shift goes over the origin of Eobard Thawne and how he used the powers of the Speed Force to destroy the future as the Reverse-Flash. Shift’s time in the present is done so she gives him a medal that will allow him to find her in the future. After that Shift goes back to her future timeline.
Barry gets a call from Detective Ulski to congratulate Barry on his correct assessment about the carnival being responsible for the death of the couple they found on the train tracks. Detective Ulski says that he will buy Barry drinks tomorrow.
Barry agrees with a concerned look on his face as he doesn’t know if tomorrow will come anymore. End of issue.
The Good: Flash: Fastest Man Alive #2 changes things up and gives us the first part of a bigger story. This isn’t something we’ve seen done thus far with DC Comics Digital First titles thus far. That change is very much welcomed as it gives the opportunity to tell a bigger story than has been present in Flash: Fastest Man Alive or any other Digital First title from DC Comics.
Throughout Flash: Fastest Man Alive #2 Gail Simone does a good job keeping up the quick pace that these Digital First comics have come to be known for having. That’s been a key part in helping separate these comics from the main DC Universe titles. There is very little wasted time in this. Even when Simone slows things down for a page it isn’t long before we get back to the action in the present.
It is also in those slow moments where we get Barry Allen’s investigation or Lieutenant Beth Arden thinking of a plan to find Flash that we get a better idea of who they are. Simone uses those slower pages to show the reason Flash and Shift are such good opponents for one another. The fight can’t be a simple use of their strengths. They both needed to be creative in how they approach fighting each other for one of them to win.
Establishing that helped make the fight between Flash and Shift much more engaging back and forth. The abilities Shift, especially with her time shift ability, had also made it more fun to see how Flash had to stay on his toes. There wasn’t a moment when Shift wasn’t in control.
Having Shift be from the future that Reverse-Flash completely wrecked was a good way to introduce the iconic villain into this continuity. Reverse-Flash is the most well-known Flash villain at this point. Starting the first big story for Flash: Fastest Man Alive with that character is a good choice. It opens up Flash’s world to explore the powers of the Speed Force in greater detail, which will be good for new fans who are only familiar with it from the CW TV show.
Reverse-Flash acting as an antagonist for this big story also made Shift’s entire personality much more understandable. Lieutenant Beth Arden has had to grow up in a future that is in complete chaos because of how Reverse-Flash has used the Speed Force for his own evil purposes. That would make any person have a hardened personality. I’m interested to see how else Simone develops the Speed Force Resistance that Shift is a part of once Flash interacts with them.
Clayton Henry artwork is at its best when drawing Flash in action against Shift. He did a good job showing Flash’s speed vs Shift’s time shift abilities. The way Flash had to be creative in trying to just land a punch was well shown throughout Henry’s artwork.
The Bad: The one problem that Flash: Fastest Man Alive #2 ran into was with how often we went back and forth between the present and past. It was used one to many times that by the time it happened in the middle of the issue it just broke up the momentum the story was carrying. It would’ve been better if the issue was just told in chronological order with how often we went back-and-forth between the present and a few hours earlier. That way it would allow the focus to be on how the story moved forward rather than going backwards at certain points.
Overall: Flash: Fastest Man Alive #2 does a good job setting the stage for a bigger storyline involving Reverse-Flash. Gail Simone and Clayton Henry did a good job giving us a back-and-forth fight between Flash and Shift. Both characters came out looking strong and built anticipation for the story they are building for future issues of Flash: Fastest Man Alive.
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