Friday, March 30, 2012

A Good Story Paired With Less Thrilling Ones, The Flash: Emergency Stop Is An Uneven Anthology!

The Good: Decent primary story, Interesting-enough villain, Cool solution/artwork
The Bad: Last two chapters are wildly erratic, Does not include the full story.
The Basics: The Flash: Emergency Stop has a decent story paired with two vignettes that are alternately not about Wally West and incomplete.

As my Flash Year continues, I am excited that I continue to manage to get in new Flash books to read in time to enjoy them and keep them more or less in the proper order that they were written. It looks like I am coming out of the Mark Waid period of The Flash and entering the Grant Morrison era. Grant Morrison, unfortunately, is not my favorite graphic novel writer. His Batman R.I.P. (reviewed here!) was a disappointing cop-out that did not live up to the book’s title and despite how everyone else claims that Final Crisis (reviewed here!) is a masterpiece, if you actually read the graphic novel by Morrison, it is missing huge chunks of the story, making it virtually unreadable.

So, when I got in The Flash: Emergency Stop and saw that it was written by Grant Morrison, I did not exactly jump up and down for joy. Instead, I waited until I should read a Flash graphic novel in my review rotation, then sat down to read and consider the book at hand. Sadly, Morrison does not exactly get a pass with me on The Flash: Emergency Stop. The main story, the multi-chapter “Emergency Stop” storyline, is good and it works pretty well. But, alas, the trade paperback anthology The Flash: Emergency Stop is not just that one story. Instead, it is “Emergency Stop” and two other stories. As I do not care at all about the Jay Garrick version of the Flash and I had not read the two other parts to the crossover event “Death At The Top Of The World,” the latter parts of The Flash: Emergency Stop were a wash for me.

When Wally West's dead body is found in Keystone City with a note declaring that the murder will occur in an hour, Max Mercury, Jay Garrick and Bart Allen are alarmed. Wally is pulled out of a date with Linda Park and returns to Keystone City to deal with the situation. As the deadline looms, an old villain resurfaces. The Suit is quickly determined to be the villain responsible for Wally’s death and in attempting to stop him, Wally purposely creates the time loop needed to put his apparently dead body back in time. The Suit, as it turns out, has absorbed the abilities of a villain with limited time travel capabilities.

When the Suit advances upon the Keystone prison, Wally West in unable to intervene as his legs have been entirely shattered by the villain. As Jay, Max, and Impulse try to thwart the Suit, by keeping him off balance (mentally), Wally works desperately to speed up his healing. Instead, Wally taps directly into the Speed Force and makes a physical embodiment of it as his new suit. When Max is absorbed by the Suit, Wally must try to thwart the adversary while saving his old friend’s life!

While Wally remains laid up following his encounter with the Suit, Jay Garrick takes over as the Flash in Keystone City. In the process, he finds himself trying to save the life of an old supervillain called the Thinker. While he celebrates his fiftieth anniversary with his wife, Joan, Jay tries to find a way to stop a giant tumor from killing his former adversary and now friend. This puts Jay in contact with many of his old superhero associates while searching for the Thinker’s helmet and gives Jay a new perspective on life and death.

Finally, there is third act of story that was a crossover with Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Apparently, Wally, Kyle Rayner and the Green Arrow all went on a cruise up to the north pole. There, the villains Heatwave, Sonar, and Hatchet resurrected their leader, Polaris and sank the cruise ship. Forty-two people died and the villains were put on trial, with the testimony from the heroes and the verdict being presented in the chapter that is contained in The Flash: Emergency Stop. This is roughly like watching The Matrix: Revolutions (reviewed here!) without any of the other movies in the series; it is hard to tell what is going on and even harder to care.

The Flash: Emergency Stop is good, but erratic. The last two stories in the book bring the rating down significantly. Unfortunately, as a trade paperback anthology, The Flash: Emergency Stop makes way for stories that are incomplete or of less interest to fans of Wally West. With that being my main criticism of the entire volume, the rest of the review will just focus on the “Emergency Stop” section of the book.

I’m discovering I am a fan of Wally West, even if none of the artists seem to be able to agree upon what he looks like outside his costume. The Flash: Emergency Stop has him making a character leap after he is crippled. Forced to endure a wheelchair, Wally West essentially turns into a Green Lantern (not literally) when he uses his force of will to tap directly into the Speed Force. His new costume for a portion of the book (why doesn’t it stay that way?!) is bright and gold and allows him to move superfast, despite the fact that his legs are still shattered. That is pretty cool and it does beg the question at what point do the Green Lanterns get bumped because someone else has greater willpower than themselves?

The Flash: Emergency Stop is a pretty straightforward “thwart the villain” type story. I enjoyed the fact that there is some debate over whether the Suit is organic, technological or supernatural. When the answer is given, it is satisfying enough and the resolution to the Suit conflict is a decent one. Beyond the new villain, though, The Flash: Emergency Stop is very typical and once more, Wally West is part of a team effort, as opposed to standing on his own as a hero in his own right.

The artwork in The Flash: Emergency Stop is universally good, so the book holds up well, despite the coloring being a little more monotonal than current standards. In the end, The Flash: Emergency Stop is worth reading, but a tough sell for purchasing.

For other Flash graphic novels, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Born To Run
The Return Of Barry Allen
Terminal Velocity
Dead Heat
The Secret Of Barry Allen
Flash: Rebirth


For other book reviews, please be sure to visit my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the book reviews I have written!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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