Review: Blackest Night: The Flash #1

Geoff Johns, at his best and at his worst.  Blackest Night: The Flash #1 seems utterly trivial to the overall mini, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it stayed that way, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.  Following, alternately, Barry Allen in the events leading up to the Coast City reveal of Nekron and the Rogues, pissed that someone is defiling their legacy, Blackest Night: The Flash writes its title character into something of a corner for this mini, though the reintroduction of Eobard Thawn could have ramifications down the line, by setting itself BEFORE the last issue of Blackest Night we read.

That would be less of a problem if it focused more heavily on the Rogues.  Undoubtedly the book’s strongest segments, the all-too-brief moments with the Rogues shine here.  While Barry’s by-the-books struggle moves at a snails pace, especially since Johns, quite literally, pauses every few pages to give us in-depth information about utterly inconsequential continuity tidbits, the Rogues promise an exciting blend of horror and action.  Every one of the book’s memorable moments comes from one of the Rogues’ moments, which makes it a shame they share so little of Barry’s spotlight.

See, for example, the page where they decide to go confront the undead old Rogues terrorizing Iron Heights – while Kolins’ tense, overly-posed segments with Barry Allen look strangely static for a book about the fastest man alive, he seemed to have fun with a brief appearance by Black Lantern Mirror Master, who had been spying on the Rogues’ meeting and, as soon as they left, destroyed the mirror they would use to return to the lair.  Creepy and well-styled, it very much fits the tone the book badly wants, but Kolins frequent Flash pages, outside of a few moments near the end of the book, are uninspired.

Uninspired seems like a good way to describe most of the issue, in fact.  There’s a lot of set-up, but most of it just told us things we already knew – in fact, it showed us things we’ve already seen.  Rather than telling a story, Blackest Night: The Flash #1 seems to be meticulously noting continuity and timing, a perfectionist’s dream that makes for some dreary storytelling.  The remarkably low-energy start to this three-issue mini isn’t promising, but the last-page splash of the Rogues’ walking into their old prison, intent on shooting up some zombies, suggests that maybe Johns knows what he’s doing after all.

Grade: C+

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #3

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