The Flash #18 Review
Barry Allen was covered in a chemical bath that was struck by lightning and became The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. Barry Allen was pronounced dead, fought Grodd in the Speed Force, returned from the dead, and told his girlfriend about his secret life as The Flash.
This issue is a jumping on point for new readers with the Grodd and the Speed Force stories both concluded in the last issue. Barry is dealing with everything the best way he knows how: by looking forward. We start off with the clean up from the last story arc, and Barry is adjusting to getting his life back again after his "officially declared dead" status was reversed last issue. Barry reports to work at the Keystone Saloon, where the Trickster is arrested for murder. The Trickster claims to be innocent of the charges. Barry believes him and decides it’s time to slip into his other uniform as the Flash. We’re introduced to two new groups in this issue, one a super hero duo and the other a political movement militia. The issue ends with an “Uh oh” moment.
Francis Manapul is taking a few months off of writing and art chores, and the team of Brian Buccellato (who usually co-writes with Manapul) and Marcio Takara fill-in for him. The story itself is an OK story, but it's nothing spectacular. Nothing that will bring in a new reader and make them want to pick up the next issue. The story potential is there, but the pacing is so fast that Buccellato is missing some of the beats along the way. The story is there but it’s too much to tell in the couple of issues that Buccellato has on his own. He is taking on the Grodd aftermath, new heroes, a militia, and the main story of the Trickster being framed. I believe if he had a few more issues Buccellato could tell a better paced story. The “Uh oh” ending even falls sort of flat because the story continues in Dial H, which takes the suspense from it. What I did enjoy was how Buccellato showcased Barry’s voice in this issue. Manapul got into a groove with Barry as a character and leveled off. Buccellato added another level that made Barry pop a little more in this issue.
While I do miss Francis Manapul’s writing I think I miss his art even more in this issue. Marcio Takara's art has the “sketchy” style to it, where the pages don’t look finished, details are lacking and it slows down the pace of the book which doesn’t work in a book about the Fastest Man Alive. Manapul’s art has a quality to it that Marcio’s doesn’t. When Manapul’s art loses details it’s to draw focus to the main subject, which pops out and draws you into them more. Marcio’s art isn’t bad, but it’s just not a good fit for this title, or this character.
If you’re a new fan of The Flash or have just been waiting for a jumping on point to give the book a try, I recommend you wait until this arc is over and Manapul returns. That is my opinion on this issue. Let us know what you think about The Flash #18 in the comments.