Review: The Flash Vol. 1- Lightning Strikes Twice

Quick Summary

Pros: The story provides an interesting look into what makes The Flash such a great hero. The villain buildup and reveal is really great.

Cons: Some points of the story seem a little rushed and unbelievable.

Overall: This volume of The Flash is the perfect place for any new fan to begin their journey with Barry Allen or for any old fan to start reading again. It goes back to the basics by taking a moment to ask who The Flash really is and why he does what he does. These questions are then answered through the scope of an epic story featuring plenty of action and a gripping mystery. Overall, this makes for an entertaining story which also manages to deliver a thoughtful message.

Story

Keeping with the theme of Rebirth, The Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice is an improvement on the series while also being a great jumping on point for new fans. It reintroduces Barry Allen to everyone without feeling like another boring origin story. Rather, it uses the introduction of a new villain to reintroduce the parts of Barry which make him a hero. All of this together makes a very enjoyable story for new and old fans of The Flash.

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This volume begins with what is essentially a companion piece to DC Universe: Rebirth. Though only a short and relatively unimportant segment, it is nice to see the story being somewhat continued rather than dropped altogether. It will be interesting to watch these plot points develop, especially when it comes to everything happening with Wally.

However, the true highlight of this entire story is the buildup and delivery of the villain, Godspeed. Throughout the collection, Godspeed is shown as a terrifying entity, capable of doing pretty horrible things to anyone he comes in contact with. The amount of character development Joshua Williamson is able to achieve in such a short time is truly impressive, especially since this is a brand new villain. The scene where Godspeed drags a man across the pavement to his death is particularly chilling and shows, in just a few pages, what kind of villain he is.

After an adequate amount of character building, the best part of the book happens: Godspeed’s reveal. While reading, I did not guess that August was going to be Godspeed, yet, looking back, it seems so perfect. Williamson did a great job writing the story in a way that hints at August without ever giving it away or making it too obvious. On a second reading, I almost enjoyed the story even more than before, something I consider to be the mark of a well-planned mystery. All of this makes for an enjoyably puzzling story with a fantastic twist at the end.

However, this villain reveal is not just for the sake of having a neat twist; it also plays well into the book’s theme of explaining Barry Allen. The Flash is not always the most easy hero to write for, how can a hero who can travel faster than most people can think possibly lose? This book postulates that there is more to being The Flash than that, that he is a symbol of hope for the people of Central City because of how he conducts hero business. When Godspeed/August corrupts that vision, readers get a glimpse at why it is so important for both the city and Barry as an individual. It really is a neat examination of The Flash and something which new and old readers can both appreciate.

My only real complaint with this story arc is that it sometimes has to make logical jumps in order to rush the story along. For example, many of the speedsters are in near full control of their powers despite only having them for a short time. It somewhat trivializes the effort that goes into being a speedster. While this is not a huge complaint, it is worth mentioning when talking about the book’s flaws.

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Art

Carmine Di Giandomenico and Ivan Plascencia are together able to pack quite a punch when it comes to the art in this book. The art is detailed, characters and locations look interesting, and Barry’s speed powers are shown in a unique and cool way. Getting the art right in The Flash can sometimes be difficult because of how hard it is to express speed through a static medium, yet Giandomenico makes it look easy.

On top of that, the colors used by Plascencia only serve to further the visuals. Reds, blues, greens, and yellows are not just used to make the pages look nice, they also aid in the storytelling. Panels colored differently to indicate tone shifts and different types of lightning to represent different aspects of the Speed Force are just two ways that this book uses color to tell its story. Together with the penciling, most pages in this book look wonderful.

For the two other artists in this collection, there is a greater range in quality; some pages look nice while others are more messy. Pages where one character or scene is spotlighted look great. They are heavily detailed and drawn in a way that brings out their best aspects. However, in busier pages with more going on, the inverse is true. Details are lost and things do not look nearly as neat. Despite this, these issues still look nice and match the style established by Carmine Di Giandomenico well.

Continuity

This is the first volume of The Flash Rebirth series. Rebirth is not a continuity reset at all; it is more of just a good jumping on point for readers. This means that, although there are stories that come before this, an in depth knowledge of The Flash’s past is not really required to enjoy this series. However, the story does still reference previous stories so we will still be listing them below.

  • The beginning of the story is a direct tie-in to DC Universe: Rebirth.
  • Numerous references are made to the Flashpoint event. This was the event that started the New 52 and is collected in Flashpoint (Review).
  • References are made to the death of Barry Allen’s mother and his father’s incarceration. The story behind this is detailed in The Flash: Rebirth.
  • The fate of Wally West II’s father, Daniel, is mentioned throughout this storyline. The backstory behind this is mostly detailed in The Flash Vol. 4: Reverse.
  • The Flash makes a passing mention to his previous encounter with the Black Racer. This happens in Justice League Vol. 7: Darkseid War Part 1.
  • Near the book’s end, The Flash finds the empty suit of a speedster who is presumed dead. He says that the remains reminded him “of something that happened to me once.” This is almost definitely a reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, since this event is out of the current continuity, it is unclear how he remembers this happening

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