THIS WEEK: The Flash #8 has the DC Universe start heading towards the Absolute Power event as the Speed Force continues to erode.

Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.

Flash Number 8 cover by Ramon Perez
Art by Ramon Perez/Courtesy of DC Comics

The Flash #8

Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Ramon Perez and Vasco Georgiev
Colors: Sofie Dodgson and Matt Herms
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover artists: Ramon Perez, Leirix, Matt Taylor, Ramon Perez

Over the last seven issues, Si Spurrier and Mike Deodato have turned the normally sunny Flash into a comic that’s more… mysterious. The world of a super fast superhero became stranger. Villains like Gorilla Grodd and Mirror Master still showed up, but new concepts like The Stillness and Arc Angles were introduced. Wally West has new abilities he doesn’t understand while Barry Allen seems preoccupied with something. Mysteries, like Wally’s mysterious new powers and issues with the Speed Force, slowly unfolded in the previous seven issues.

Issue #8, “Pioneers,” starts the various issues people currently have with the Speed Force towards a finish line. With Wally West trapped elsewhere, Barry Allen returns to being The Flash. Various disasters plague Earth and Barry spreads himself thin trying to coordinate various speedsters to save the day. Except no one’s powers work properly, which makes rescues more difficult.

Art from Flash Number 8 by Ramon Perez
Art by Ramon Perez/Courtesy of DC Comics

Barry Allen spreading himself all over the place is a good metaphor for Si Spurrier’s writing in this issue. A lot happens in this issue and it’s all over the place. There are the disasters, Amanda Waller raids TerrificTech, and Iris West-Allen goes on a podcast. Even when Spurrier ties it all together at the end, it still never really connects. 

What ties everything together is Amanda Waller coming down on the speedsters. This development is something that comes out of nowhere for this series. Absolute Power, DC’s event for the summer, starts in two months and this seems like a set-up for it. It’s frustrating because Spurrier has gotten to keep The Flash isolated from larger DC events. Now it’s getting forced to be part of them while trying to wrap up its own storylines.

Art from Flash Number 8 by Ramon Perez
Art by Ramon Perez/Courtesy of DC Comics

TerrificTech studying the Speed Force and its disintegration due to the speedsters has been a subplot throughout this series. Over the course of this run, Spurrier turned the Speed Force from a semi-mystical fountain of limitless energy into a scientific field people explore. To know of something’s existence does not necessarily mean you fully understand it. Exploring something, rather than defining it, can lead to new questions. And yes, Waller would absolutely use this new knowledge to shift public perception of heroes.

Art from Flash Number 8 by Ramon Perez
Art by Ramon Perez/Courtesy of DC Comics

However, this sudden interest in TerrifcTech’s studies comes out of nowhere. There’s been no buildup in The Flash that Waller would even know about this or plot to use this to poison public perception of superheroes. But when Waller reveals this on the livestream that Iris West-Allen has co-hosted throughout the issue, the reveal falls flat. Readers have to just accept that Waller would have her hands in everything. There’s no drama in Waller being a bad guy at this pivotal moment they’ve been inserted into.

Mike Deodato drew and Trish Mulvihill colored the first six issues of this series in a style that evoked the Stephen Bissette and John Totleben collaboration on Saga of the Swamp Thing. Their collaboration created a strange, moody quality that suited the new direction of the series. This issue, like the previous one, is drawn by Ramon Perez (with an assist by Vasco Georgiev) and colors are by Sofie Dodgson and Matt Herms. The visuals in this issue are a little livelier than those of Deodato and Mulvihill. The figures that Perez and Georgiev draw in this issue constantly move aided by Dodgson and Herms more fluorescent colors. And this issue needs that sense of movement with Barry going all over the place.

Art from Flash Number 8 by Ramon Perez
Art by Ramon Perez/Courtesy of DC Comics

Still, the shift in focus from the high strangeness from the previous issues to the tie to the larger DC universe is glaring. This issue probably gets the ball rolling with the Absolute Power event. Anyone gearing up for that should probably read this issue. Unfortunately, it does so at the cost of the series’ subplots and characters. So anyone who reads this book on a regular basis will likely be disappointed.

Verdict: Browse

Round Up

Cover to Batman: Dark Age number 2 by Mike Allred
Art by Mike Allred/Courtesy of DC Comics

Power Girl #8

The theme of DC books this month seems to be “tie into other DC events”. This issue of Power Girl ties into the larger House of Brainiac which if you’re not reading the other Superman books is probably very confusing. The issue opens with Power Girl learning to roller skate which is a lot of fun. Then everyone starts disappearing and Power Girl has to figure out how to protect an entire series. Writer Leah Williams does what she can here. It’s clear that the Power Girl roller skating disaster is more fun for her and penciler Eduardo Panisca. When all of the Czarinans show up, it just becomes a big free-for-all. This probably makes a lot more sense for anyone reading House of Brainiac but anyone coming in cold do what the editor’s notes tell you and read Action Comics #1064 first.

Batman: Dark Age #2

Mark Russell and Mike Allred continue their story of rich boy Bruce Wayne learning to become Batman in the 1960s. Last issue ended with Wayne in prison and this issue sees him shipped off to Vietnam to commute his sentence. The main story of this issue should be familiar to anyone who has seen Batman Begins. Still, it’s fun seeing how Russell modifies the familiar beats of Bruce Wayne training to become the Dark Knight. Mike Allred indulges in his love of the time period to bring that era to life. He seems more at home when Bruce Wayne is in Gotham than the jungles of Vietnam. Still, he’s great at the action sequences with the assault on Wayne Manor at the end a highlight. The story here might be familiar but it’s a fun take on it. 

Harley Quinn #39

Something should be said about a book that does a good job catching you up to speed on its current premise. If you haven’t read writer Tini Howard’s current run on Harley Quinn, you won’t be lost reading this issue. Howard trusts that their audience is smart enough to catch up on her take on the character. Harley Quinn has now begun a crusade to become a super villain therapist. This issue sees her try to work with Maxie Zeus as he is currently in a bit of a slump. She also teaches community college courses on psychology (presumably). This is an extremely fun take on the character acknowledging that the character’s background as a psychologist and working that into their career as a supervillain. This is all aided by the expressive and gorgeous art of Natacha Bustos and Nick Filardi. It’s just a perfect fit for the story being told. Also, there’s a fun Flash Gordon-inspired back up by Erica Henderson. Just a package that is nothing but fun. 

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