Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reinventing The Wheel Fairly Average, The Flash: Move Along!

The Good: Moments of character, Interesting science
The Bad: Artwork, Dull episodic portions of the plot, Not hugely character-driven
The Basics: The Flash: Move Along opens the New-52 version of The Flash in a way that expands the character, though not in a terribly impressive way.

It is no secret to my regular readers that I am not a huge fan – in general terms – of the DC Comics reinvention of the DC Universe known as the New 52. I thought it was an arrogance concept (especially in the middle of a recession) and that doing a wholesale reboot of the DC Universe following Flashpoint (reviewed here!) was a mistake. Figuring out what came before that gels with the new universe and what doesn’t is weird and it is a jerkaround to loyal readers who have been invested in those characters for decades. In the case of The Flash, the reboot is pretty extensive and it begins in The Flash: Move Along.

The Flash: Move Along provides a pretty dramatic overhaul to the Flash character. Returning the focus of the book to Barry Allen, The Flash: Move Along creatively presents a Flash who is learning his full range of skills and combating classic Flash villains (who seem to have memories of going up against the Flash before) and a new adversary. The reboot has a noticeable lack of Wally West, who was my favorite version of The Flash. But this incarnation of The Flash is new and while it works hard to push Barry Allen in a new direction (with a serious scientific bent), the story feels remarkably like a Superman book with the way Barry Allen and the Flash interact with reporter Iris West.

While Barry Allen is dating Patty Spivot, Barry’s old friend Manuel ends up dead. But soon, circumstances take a turn for the strange when it appears that Manuel is alive and there are more versions of him . . . hunting him. As the villain Mob Rule, the alternate versions of Manuel are hunting down Manuel and the people who made Manuel into the duplicates. With Dr. Elias trying to explain to the Flash how his powers might be pushed in different directions, Mob Rule fights to survive as the duplicates begin to expire and try to get a solution from Manuel that will save their lives.

Following that, Captain Cold resurfaces. When Dr. Elias realizes that the Flash is creating micro-wormholes whenever he approaches a certain speed, Captain Cold freezes the local river and in rescuing the victims, the Flash inadvertently sends Iris into another dimension. Entering the Speed Force, the Flash discovers a new truth about himself and his powers. Negotiating with Turbine, a pilot trapped within the Speed Force, the Flash begins to realize the full depth of consequences that come with his powers.

The Flash: Move Along is very plot-heavy after the Manuel chapters. The introduction of Leonard Snart is a welcome one and his fundamental characterization is compelling, which has been one of the primary marks of the interesting Flash villains. After Manuel is dealt with, The Flash: Move Along spends a lot of time exploring what the power of the new incarnation of the Flash are. The New 52 version of the Flash explores more the character’s relationship with time and alternate realities, which is a big change from the prior versions of the Flash. The change in tone is all right, but it seems to explain the science of the Flash, but not truly advance his character. Learning about his new abilities and fighting the new villain does little to change his character. The insertion of Manuel into Barry Allen’s backstory helps to relaunch the character, though it does not fundamentally alter the character of change his outlook on life.

The artwork in The Flash: Move Along is unfortunately erratic. There is a washed out quality to most of the panels and the coloring looks much less refined than many of the other Flash books. The interactions between Barry Allen and Patty Spivot are interesting, but given that Iris West is still in the picture, it is hard to read the book and feel like the book is not just moving toward Barry and Iris getting together. This story has erratic pacing, but illustrates some potential for the character. After Flashpoint, Move Along is an interesting, but not exceptional reboot.

For other Flash graphic novels, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Flash Archives, Volume 1
The Flash Vs. The Rogues
The Trial Of The Flash
Born To Run
The Return Of Barry Allen
Terminal Velocity
Dead Heat
Race Against Time
Emergency Stop
The Human Race
Blood Will Run
The Secret Of Barry Allen
Rogue War
Full Throttle
Lightning In A Bottle
Flash: Rebirth
The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues
The Road To Flashpoint
The Life Story Of The Flash


For other book reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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