The Good: Decent overall story, Good primer for the character
The Bad: Glosses over virtually everything, Does not actually provide what the book is supposed to be (in universe), Average-at-best artwork
The Basics: The graphic novel that is supposed to be Iris Allen’s biography of Barry Allen, The Life Story Of The Flash is not all that it is in the regular story of the Flash, but it is a decent primer for those looking to get into the character.
As many of my loyal readers know, this is my Flash Year. I am working my way, as best I can, through the library of Flash graphic novels. I have discovered, by and large, I am a fan of the Wally West version of the Flash. In reading the many books that possess West, I have encountered the whole Speedster family and the reclusive Iris Allen, Wally’s aunt. Iris Allen went to the distant future and wrote a biography of her husband, entitled The Life Story Of The Flash. The Life Story Of The Flash is now available as a free-standing graphic novel.
Unfortunately, The Life Story Of The Flash is not all that it is cracked up to be. In-universe, The Life Story Of The Flash becomes a tool used by a few different villains to try to destroy Wally West and it becomes so dangerous that the copy that made it back through the timeline has to be destroyed. The Life Story Of The Flash does not contain anything that could be used to actually help any of the villains!
Written by Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, but credited to Iris Allen, The Life Story Of The Flash is a simple, direct biography of Barry Allen, with minimal additional artwork. Over seventeen chapters, Iris Allen uses a first-person narrative to explain the life of Barry Allen. From his boyhood obsession with the Jay Garrick version of the Flash to the time that Barry and Iris spent living together in the future, the broad strokes of Barry Allen are painted. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Life Story Of The Flash is one of the few stories I did not know about before reading the biography.
Apparently, at some point, Iris Allen is “killed” by Professor Zoom. The Reverse Flash is a favorite villain of mine and that his murder of Iris is what led to the trial of Barry Allen was very interesting. Of course, in The Life Story Of The Flash the story is glossed over in five pages and that is one of the weaknesses of The Life Story Of The Flash. This book is just a series of Flash vignettes that mention the character, but never find the character’s voice. Instead, Iris Allen tells the story of Barry Allen without Barry Allen ever actually having a richness of his own. Sure, he is a superhero, but in The Life Story Of The Flash, it is a bland form of superheroism.
The Life Story Of The Flash mentions the big events in the Barry Allen storyline: how he became the Flash, how he met Iris, how he took on the Rogues, how he and Iris went to the future, and how the Flash gave his life to stop the Anti-Monitor. The Life Story Of The Flash hits all of the major events, including how Barry Allen and Jay Garrick met.
The artwork in The Life Story Of The Flash is minimal and not terribly impressive. Much of the book is prose and “Iris Allen” tells the story in a very straightforward way. What panels of artwork there are tend to be used to simply illustrate the key events of the book, without ever truly trying to get the full depth and flavor of the moments. Even at its best, the artwork in The Life Story Of The Flash does not have a great sense of movement, especially between panels.
The Life Story Of The Flash is, at best, a primer for those looking to read The Flash graphic novels. But outside generating enthusiasm for the further reading, there is not truly enough to The Life Story Of The Flash to enthusiastically recommend it.
For other Flash graphic novels, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Born To Run
The Return Of Barry Allen
Race Against Time
The Human Race
Blood Will Run
The Secret Of Barry Allen
For other graphic novels, be sure to check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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