Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter’s “Year One” story arc in The Flash continues this week, detailing Barry Allen’s first few days living with the Speed Force. It has been an interesting look at a character who has mastered his powers and is hardly in danger, but the early stages were a different story. Can he survive a gunshot wound? That’s where we left off and this issue opens with Barry trying to phase his hand into his body to pull out the bullet. Yikes.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“The Flash Year One” continues! As our hero picks up the pieces from his disastrous defeat at the hands of the Turtle, the rise of the Rogues in Central City gives the Flash renewed resolve. But Barry is still learning to master his abilities, and while an experienced speedster might know how to outrun a gun, this time he may not be so lucky…
Why does this matter?
This story utilizes time travel, Flash’s most enigmatic villain in The Turtle, and even features the beginning of Barry’s relationship with Iris. Witness history in the making as we learn Flash’s Rebirth origin.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I almost prefer a wet-behind-the-ears Flash since something as simple as a bullet can take him out. Typically he’d just phase when bullets come his way, but this is a Barry Allen who hasn’t quite mastered anything. Heck, in this issue he learns he can run on water, which is a fun discovery to witness. The issue opens with Barry attempting not to bleed to death as Iris knocks on his door. It’s a good scene since it juggles Barry dealing with being a hero and that potentially affecting his domestic relationship.
If you’re a fan of origin stories this story arc is great and this issue in particular is fabulous. In it, we learn the Turtle’s full backstory and how he went from college nerd to supervillain. It’s a heartbreaking sort of origin that shows us how anyone can turn bad if they do the wrong thing at the right moment. In a beautiful 16-panel double page splash, Porter outdoes himself by telling Turtle’s story via key flashback moments. Williamson and Porter and doing a great job making the Turtle into a legitimate threat one I’d liken to Doc Ock as they’re both crazy scientists who have gone down the right wrong path.
This issue also mixes in Allen’s parents and how his father was framed, further complicates his relationship with Iris, and ends with a cliffhanger that calls back to the beginning of the arc. It’s exciting and strong superhero comics.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
There’s a tension growing between Iris and Barry that doesn’t quite jive in this issue. Maybe an additional scene or further reflection via captions could make it feel more natural, but the narrative has them happy in bed and then a few scenes (and presumably minutes) later Barry is short and unfair with her. Barry is clearly worked up and upset for a few reasons, but it comes out of left field why he says what he says.
Is it good?
A great third installment in the “Year One” story arc further developing the origins of both Barry Allen and the Turtle. If you like superhero origin stories, do not miss this.