Review: Flash Vol. 4 – Reverse, by Francis Manapul

The Flash, Vol. 4: ReverseThe Flash, Vol. 4: Reverse by Francis Manapul
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


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Reverse Flash is a bad guy, in the Flash Rogues Gallery, but this version of Reverse Flash is actually more of a tragic story.

You know, it seems obvious to me that Flash just isn’t on Geoff Johns’ list of important New 52 characters. I mean he’s got a competent writer, but the storylines are shit.

So people who got stuck in the Speed Force with Barry all got some powers…and now someone kills them all off, until only Iris is left…Barry sees a slowed down video that shows his reverse symbol, and goes after Kid Flash…cue some stupid running together and making stupid conversation scenes as they burn across the world, and Bart shows what a moron he is here…saved by the Teen Titans again.

So oops, not him, well he thinks it is the rich guy who helped him save the city but turns out to have different aims…nope.

Of course, it’s DANIEL WEST! Iris’ brother, who Flash caught in issue one and sent to prison for bank robbery. Daniel, who was out of prison just long enough to make it back for the Gorilla invasion (what? ya I try to forget that too…) and saved by the Rogues…of course no, they rob everyone, and Daniel don’t like that, so he acts like a dummy, and gets blowed up real good like with all the Speed Force stuff and a monorail car…

Instead of dying, why no, it bonds to him and he discovers he can go back in time! But it is hard on him…
Then we see he killed all the others, and used them like batteries, to go back in time…

What does he go back to do? Rob a bank? Kill Flash? Ace his SATs? Escape prison? No, actually he goes back to murder his and Iris’ abusive father…who we see beat both of them and was a real asshole. We also see that Iris was one of those dumb “oh he only hit me because he was drinking, it’s not his fault!” type of victims who makes excuses. Instead, Daniel/Reverse Flash (how clever indeed) wants to kill him so his sister, who he loves, will never have to be hit again…yes it will mean Daniel escapes it too, but we see that he loves her more.

Flash stops him and gives him a lecture about not changing the past, and learning from it, stopping him by taking the Speed Force energy from him? In fact, the writer even has Flash say “I have no idea how that worked, I couldn’t explain it again if I tried” WOW. What a cop-out and lazy writing.

So back in the present, Daniel is back to normal-ish, but I’m sure he’ll return. He goes to prison, and we see flashbacks of how Iris was to him as they grew up, and she’s kinda a self-absorbed cunt…no time for her little brother…maybe he should have just been like her and embraced the punches?

Anyhow, I was really bothered that Iris doesn’t forgive him or buy his story at all, and pretty much says that her brother is dead to her, and died when he was a kid. WOW, that’s harsh…he turned into a supervillain and killer because he wanted to save you from getting beat up your whole childhood by your father…hmmm ya, I agree, what a horrible younger brother that is…

So if this is who Iris West is in the New 52, I’m glad Barry is with Penny.

Then we get a stupid tacked on story about Iris and Barry’s meet cute in Gotham right before Zero Year (because how much more can we advertise Batman???) Barry is helping out, riding alongside Harvey Bullock and his partner…there’s some shenanigans, Barry saves Iris, Iris saves Barry, and Bullock has to do something dark. Then Barry gets all goody goody on Bullock about how that wasn’t right, and Bullock puts him in his place and pretty much tells him to fuck off and grow up a little. It made me love Bullock just that little bit more.

So here’s the thing; I want to like this. I do, the art is a bit childish, but it’s not bad. It is consistent, which isn’t something you can say for a lot of books…but the plots are stupid, and Barry comes across as very naive and a little too black and white. I mean I guess he’s a cop by choice, so that tells us something…but I wish he’d show some more personality? He’s just too much wet blanket for me…

I just hope we see Wally West soon, and that Daniel West isn’t the character they used instead…ugh.

So this might not be a 2, it might be 2.5-3, but I couldn’t get over the feeling of really not liking Iris after her treatment of her brother, and I feel like they’re just in a holding pattern waiting to push Patty out of the picture.

Flash, you need to make shit interesting, because even if there’s no actual problem, you’re BORING, and I don’t feel like going out of my way to read you anymore.


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Review: C.O.W.L. Vol. 1 – Principles of Power, by Kyle Higgins

C.O.W.L. Volume 1: Principles of PowerC.O.W.L. Volume 1: Principles of Power by Kyle Higgins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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This is it, the first Stinker from my Image Humble Bundle…1 star seems a bit harsh, so 1.5, which means 2 on GR.

COWL is a piece of derivative work. It’s ripping off Watchmen, and every other book written about a team/group of heroes where things aren’t what they seem, and the relationships between everyone are actually pretty shitty.

On top of that, the art looks like a bad copy of Bill Sienkiewicz (from the Elektra Assassin book by Frank Miller in the 80s). Rod Reis, is he related to Ivan Reis? Ivan has done some pretty decent work (Papa Johns’ Aquaman for one), but Rod here? Not so much. In the same page, he’ll draw the same character’s face twice, and the guy will look 30 in one panel, and 55 in the next. There’s no continuity, and with the dull colour palette used, they become quite mirky, and hard to distinguish, and at some point I stopped really trying.

I know the art is meant to evoke some sort of seedy stuff, but this felt like a Frank Miller book, and that’s NOT a compliment in this case.

It’s too dark, but feels like a poseur. The subject matter just isn’t enough to wow or really grab me…I’m beginning to think that reading all this IMAGE COMICS stuff is great, because when it’s not up to snuff, it really stands out, but if I were reading stuff that were ho-hum, then the turds wouldn’t stink as much…if that makes sense.

As for the story, COWL is the Chicago Superhero Union. (Organized Worker League) Yup, after WWII, Chicago was run rampant with organized crime, so the returning vets/supes in Chi-town decided to set up this Superhero Union so they could all get dental and 2 weeks paid holiday. At the time there was a bunch of badguys, “The Six”…but this was late 40s-into the 50s.
However, it’s now 1962, and the last link to the Six is taken down by COWL heroes…so with the contract negotiations in place, it lets the Mayor of Chicago tweak his proposal, because they don’t need COWL as much as they did when the first contract was set up.

I shit you not, there’s more than 1 page devoted to the back and forth contract negotiations, and it’s dry as fuck. I mean I get it, I understand, and it’s a mildly interesting “What If?” but not to sustain a whole series…

Of course it also doesn’t help that the main heroes of COWL we meet are a mixture of burnouts, assholes, bullies, and an objectified woman. The closest thing to a ‘good guy’ are the 2 guys without powers; one has a son who thinks he’s a loser because of it, and the other is a former spy who thinks that something fishy is going on within COWL…

Of course, there is, and it’s not too hard to figure it out, and it’s not a spoiler to reveal…(someone inside COWL is trying to prop up the remaining villains so that COWL will still be relevant and can have a better negotiating position with the city…ya.) WOW that’s a blast of exciting reading yes?)

At one point, COWL even goes on Strike…so superheroes are walking the picket line. Those that aren’t are going on vendetta missions against the remaining organized crime figures, which is OK, because they secretly have some powered individuals working for them, one of whom kicked the shit out of the COWL dude with the son…

So it’s all murky, everyone is degrees of grey, and everyone turns on everyone when you think they are actually working together. There’s too many clich├ęs here, including the Uncle Tom #2 in command Black guy who the White boss treats like his lackey.

It was a mildly interesting proposition, but when your intro pages include a map of all the city locations and districts (why?) and the roster of main characters, it just feels like extra info thrown at you so you’ll know/care more? I mean if it’s good, won’t you be able to figure it out on your own? The writer even knew it was hard to follow who’s who at the start, so that’s why you got the handy dandy guide…

This was a misfire that started to circle the drain when it got into union contracts and negotiation techniques…it feels like a fairly boring 80s TV episode from Magnum PI or Murder She Wrote, about a union boss trying to prop up his union and having it all fall apart and be unraveled.

I’d miss this one, because it’s not really all that pleasant, or good. I tried, I really did, but it’s not half as interesting as the premise or cover made it look. I did want to know about some characters, but there were too many of them, and things spread out too much, so we didn’t get enough background or info on any of them (there is a dossier file on each at the end of the volume, if you care to know any more, and that info would have been more interesting to put into the book than strikes and labour unions…).

At the end of the day, it’s not original enough, nor is the art good enough or memorable enough to make it relevant. I don’t need happy sunshine, but I’d rather if it’s going to be dark/grim that it at least be GOOD and well written. These just feel like a bunch of stereotypes thrown together and ruined by some bad decisions. I won’t be following the rest of this series (which has only produced 4 more issues since Sept 2014).


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