Review: The Flash Annual #2 By Brian Buccellato and Sami Basri

Flash_annual2

The Flash Annual #2

The Quick and the Green

Written by Brian Buccellato

Art by Sami Basri and Stellar Labs

Details

Written by Nicole Dubuc

Art by Cully Hamner and Matthew Wilson

 

The short of it:

With Hal Jordan preparing to move to Oa in order to truly become the leader of the Green Lantern Corps, he still has a few pieces of unfinished business on Earth….like spending time with his best friend, Barry Allen. Barry takes Hal to a jazz club, Hal gets bored and wants for more, but hey, be careful what you wish for because they get abducted by aliens from Arena World! What’s Arena World, you ask, well, it’s the location of their first team up in the new canon! Several years ago Barry Allen was investigating the disappearance of multiple children without much of an obvious pattern save for the day of the abduction, and he eventually cracked it and headed for Coast City to stop the child abductors. Thing is, Barry wasn’t investigating it alone, and Green Lantern shows up thinking he’s the bad guy! Barry identifies himself as a Central City police officer, and then identifies GL as Superman, but before they can get too into it there’s a big flash of light and GL flies into action and tells Barry to stay put. Really? No dice, The Flash races in and they wind up teleported into space!

Now, GL immediately hears Flash’s voice and knows it’s the cop he was speaking to all of thirty seconds earlier, and it leads to a great back and forth. They beat up the aliens, rescue the kids, and get back to the team up. GL makes it awkward, refusing to call Flash anything but Barry, and Barry freaking out because the mask is important! It’s so important that Hal takes his off and says “I’m Hal Jordan”. Barry is not pleased, but whatever, there are kids to save! And Barry’s powers are acting strange! And Hal’s ring is running low on juice! Eventually the people in charge of this particular Arena team show up, and Hal strikes a deal with them while Barry takes the kids home, and what’s where we are now. Hal signed them up to fight for the House Verus in exchange for those kids and figured since it had been so long that they’d forgotten.

Whoops.

See, debts get called in. Always. And this one? Well, Barry and Hal are going to be fighting for the House Verus. The setup is a pro-wrestling style battle royal with the winner fighting their champion. To the death. Now, the battle royal is a couple of cool fight scenes drawn up with Hal and Barry being the last men standing, and the people in charge being pissy that they didn’t kill each other. The House Priscus eliminates Hal from the fight as Barry’s powers begins to fade. He fights as well as he can, but with his powers weakened and no real weapons….Hal throws the Hail Mary. Rewriting the rules of his ring and willing it onto Barry’s hand. Flash channels the Speed Force through his mind, letting him see all the ways this could play out and figuring out how to use the ring, which promptly finds the beasts weakness. One shot later and he’s done, and our heroes are ready to head home. Barry with a newfound respect for just how hard it is for Hal to work the ring, and Hal understanding that Barry may be on to something with his insistence to always think about his actions before making them. Of course, Hal is still making him fly around in a tiny sidecar and taking him to a bar, but that’s what friends are for.

Now, as for Details, it’s a pretty different sort of story. It takes place two years ago and starts with Barry running around doing what he can. Giving a homeless man extra cans to recycle, helping a woman make her bus, saving a dog from a car, saving someone from a rip off vending machine…and then a girl from losing her papers when the guy gets startled and bumps her. He’s the Flash, high speed antics and all of that. It’s a co-workers birthday so he goes to pick up a bottle of wine. Flash Fact, wine carried by the Flash at superspeed? Goes super bad super fast. Reports of a fire pop up and Barry runs into action, a man tells him that his wife and daughter are up there and he rushes into save them. Unfortunately, the mother is dead before he can even arrive. The husband is, obviously, distraught.

Now, in the present, Barry and Patty are having breakfast when that same man is seen on TV threatening to blow up a building if Flash doesn’t show up. Barry disables a bomb on the way, and we the reader discover that it was the mans cigarette that started the fire that killed his wife, but he promptly tries to kill himself with cyanide. Barry saves him, and a bomb sniffing dog indicates that everything is all clear.

But the details? The dog Barry saved had puppies, one of which grew into the dog that sniffed out the bombs. The homeless man went to the recycling center and wound up with a job. The man who bumped into the girl, spilling her papers, is now married to her. The woman who missed the bus (I’m assuming) got to see her son play the violin. And the girl whose mother died? She was the first EMT on the scene for her fathers attempted suicide. Barry influences so many lives for the better with just the smallest of actions.

 

What I liked:

  • First and foremost, the secret identity stuff. Barry makes no attempt to disguise his voice and Hal calls him on it instantly. Perfect. Hal refuses to call him Flash because he knows his name is Barry. Also perfect. Then, finally, Hal shows him how little the secret ID matters and is all “I’m Hal Jordan” and Barry almost blows a gasket. So perfect.

  • Reckless cop and Cautious cop. Great combination.

  • When I saw Barry wearing Hal’s ring on the cover I was expecting something cheesey and dumb and, most likely, uber silver agey. When the end result was Hal willed his ring to work for Barry, and Barry had to use his own powers to their fullest to truly use it, I wound up loving it. It was really clever writing.

  • Man, how underrated is Sami Basri? I loved his Power Girl, loved his Voodoo, and loved this. The dude does not get nearly enough work when you consider how great everything looks. His pages look absolutely fantastic here.

  • Seriously, there are some awesome splash pages, top notch character and design work, and some great action. The main story looks fantastic.

  • “Barry…did you…shoot him in the crotch?” “Well, that’s where the ring said his weakness was.” “Nice.”

  • Details was pretty uneventful until the end when we see how Flash influenced so many events over a two year period. Everything from the EMT on scene, to the bomb sniffing dog, and of course, the three lives he improved along the way. It’s so common to see superheroes just punching bad guys and saving the world that it was really refreshing to see the broad strokes handled in an issue.

  • Also, Cully Hamner!

 

What I didn’t like:

  • They never really explain why Barry is low on power. Hal we’re led to believe just runs out of charge on his ring, but Barry doesn’t exactly have a charge with the Speed Force.

  • I can understand going against the mold and taking humans over some stronger species, but children? What kind of a strategy for winning in the arena is that? Throw dozens of kids at the monsters and see if any survive? It just seems like the House Verus was trying to lose.

 

Final thoughts:

If you had told me back in 2005-2006 that I’d be reading a book starring Barry and Hal, and that it wouldn’t be placed in the Silver Age, and that I’d enjoy it? I’d have called you a damn fool. Hell, with Barry in there I wouldn’t have imagined a chance that I would have enjoyed it before Flashpoint and the New 52. I might be a fan of Wally West, but the New 52 has made Barry Allen matter to me. How did DC pull this off? By letting Flash be a damn good book.

The fact that I like, and root for, Patty Spivot still confounds me. My Flash reviews used to be centered around my hate for this character who means nothing for me, and now I think she’s a pretty good girlfriend for Barry. I still miss Iris, but Patty has REALLY grown on me.

I remember when Geoff wrote GL Rebirth he made it clear as to how hard it is to wield a Green Lantern ring, something that was really nice when he brought up the rednecks who made beer and chainsaws back in the early 90’s. Barry Allen I’ve always viewed as filled to the brim with willpower, unlike Oliver Queen who I imagine struggles to spell it, so seeing Barry get his ass kicked trying to use it just emphasizes how special the moment was.

I actually have some nostalgia for the Hal/Barry friendship. There was this mini series I read back in, I want to say middle school, I think was called The Brave and the Bold, but anyway, it was just six issues of Barry and Hal teaming up. Wally showed up a few times, Alan and Jay popped up, and despite being a Kyle fan, I wasn’t bothered by Hal’s presence. It was a fun mini that really has kept me influenced over the years, because, I mean, Barry and Hal are the best of friends.

Then again, so were Kyle and and Wally. I miss Wally. Issues like this make me miss him slightly less, because they’re really solid Barry issues, but I still grew up with Wally on his own. Barry did, after all, die in my birth year.

Full advantage is totally taken of Hal’s new status quo. From calling in the Corps to mop things up, to being able to reprogram his ring on the fly to do whatever he wants. It makes him into a walking plot device without raising my ire.

Man, Brian Buccellato can write!

So can Nicole “I have never in my life heard of you” Dubuc!

We will probably never see or hear about Arena World ever again.

Overall: 8.5/10

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