The Flash #23.1 by Brian Buccellato (Comics Review)

I started reading The Flash thanks to last month’s Annual #2, and then quickly moved on with reading from issues #20, catching up to #23 in short order. While I didn’t enjoy the first three issues of this series when I read them last year, I’ve discovered a new-found love for this series of late. Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul have done great things with the current arc involving the Speed Force killer, whose identity was finally revealed in #23.

With Flash, one of my problems with the character is that I don’t know his villains so well, outside of Justice League: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, so really connecting with the character has been a problem. Thanks to the ongoing Villain’s Month however, that problem is about to be rectified, and I feel that Brian is already off to a great start with #23.1, featuring Grodd of all villains.

The Flash 23.1One thing I really regretted after reading this issue was that I have not read the Gorilla Warfare arc, which features Grodd very prominently as a villain. Brian’s writing is that excellent. He portrays Grodd, a villain I looked on at as a joke at best, so well that I just couldn’t help but be impressed with this issue. Brian’s Grodd is a villain on the level of Lex Luthor and Darkseid and Joker in this issue, full of nuance and such typical villain qualities that you just can’t help but appreciate what brian is doing.

One of the things that this issue has going for it is that this is not an origin issue, but a progression of the larger Forever Evil/Villain’s Month storyline, and also for Gorilla Warfare. Just as Solovar and other representatives of Gorilla City unveil their people’s tribute to Central City and Keystone City (the two Gem Cities) in front of a packed crowd of people, Grodd appears out of nowhere to take charge and establish himself as the big bad. Freed from whatever prison held him by the new global big bads, who we see at the end of Justice League #23.

From then, we see one of the best portrayals of a villain in the New 52. The way I read Grodd here, I’m reminded of how Scott Snyder portrayed the Joker in Batman, Geoff Johns portrayed the Cheetah in Justice League or Black Manta and Ocean Master in Aquaman. After reading this issue, I can no longer see Grodd as comical or a joke, far from it.

Set concurrently to Geoff Johns’ Forever Evil #1, this issue is all about Grodd’s ascendancy and the ruination of everything that Flash and Solovar built before. And this fits with the overall concept of Villain’s Month, that the villains are going to takeover the world while the heroes are gone, presumed dead. And its perfect. Brian has pulled off the entire issue brilliantly, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next. Hopefully the story won’t be limited to this special, and we see more of Grodd alongside Reverse-Flash and The Rogues in the next two The Flash Villain’s Month issues. That would be brilliant.

As for the art. I love what Brian and Francis have built up so far. Still, seeing Chris Batista step up and deliver such a beautiful and expressive issue was a right surprise. He captures Grodd, Solovar, and the other apes of Gorilla City really well, capturing their elation, their surprise, their shock, their rage and their fury as well as Brian does it all through the exposition and the dialogue. Grodd particularly is one nasty Gorilla with a chip on his shoulder, and this shows through in the art again and again. Chris’ art is extremely dynamic and vibrant, and it maintains a surprising consistency with the art we’ve seen in the series prior to this special. And complementing him are Tom Nguyen’s inks, Wes Dzioba’s colours and Wes Abbott’s letters. It is a seamless art team where everyone is in perfect tune with each other and they don’t miss a beat at all.

So far, I have to say that of the 5 Villain’s Month issues I’ve read so far, The Flash #23.1 is undoubtedly the best I’ve read. Originally, I was going to give this issue a 9.5/10, which is a pretty high rating from me, but then, I just couldn’t help myself. I’m giving this issue a full score because of two things: “KNEEL BEFORE GRODD” and “I AM THE MASTER OF ALL I SEE”. Two fantastic bits of dialogue and so bloody natural in the script.

Rating: 10/10

More Flash: Annual #2.

Posted on September 5, 2013, in 2013 Reading Challenge, 2013 Writing Challenge, Challenges, Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

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