Full disclosure: I was not looking forward to reading Flash Forward #1. At all. Partly because it’s a spin-off from Heroes In Crisis (which, those of you who read my reviews on a regular basis might recall, I wasn’t fond of) and because it was written by Scott Lobdell, whose writing I have come to dread ever since he made the New 52 Teen Titans book into an incomprehensible, contradictory mess.
Throw in the fact that one of my favorite characters – the Wally West version of The Flash – was to be turned into a depressive anti-hero seeking redemption (a look that doesn’t suit the idealistic and optimistic Wally West I know at all) and this book was coming up to the plate with two strikes and one hand tied behind its back.
So did I choose to review this book just so I could slag on it and vent my spleen regarding how awful it is?
Quite the opposite. Because to my shock and dismay, this book wasn’t terrible and I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong.
Flash Forward #1 opens with ponderous narration by Tempus Fuginaut – one of the many cosmic beings in the DC Universe tasked with making sure the trains run on time, metaphorically speaking. It is Tempus’ task to stop people from ripping holes in reality while traveling between universes and preventing the Dark Multiverse (a multiverse made up of dead and dying worlds where the heroes lost) from infecting the main Multiverse. The problem is that thanks to recent events (as seen in Dark Nights: Metal, Justice League and The Batman Who Laughs), Tempus is becoming overwhelmed trying to hold back the toxic influence of the Dark Multiverse and he needs help.
This leads to Tempus recruiting Wally West – currently in Blackgate Prison awaiting trial on multiple charges of murder, following the events of Heroes In Crisis – to act as his champion and seek out the anomaly that is causing the Dark Multiverse to surge out of control. The problem is that Wally has no interest in playing the hero any more, after all the deaths he caused in a moment of weakness when he lost control of his powers. Yet Tempus insists that it is Wally’s destiny to save all of reality and that the speeds he ran as The Flash are nothing compared to what he can accomplish now.
As you can see, there’s a LOT of exposition to unpack from multiple comics in setting up this story and I’ve left a fair bit out in summarizing it. Yet somehow, Lobdell manages to get everything out in a smooth and unclunky manner, apart from the opening in which Tempus is apparently talking to himself or breaking the fourth wall to talk to the audience. All par for the course for cosmic beings in comics, but still a bit weird to think of in the context of the rest of the issue. More importantly, Lobdell has a solid grasp on Wally’s character and the parts of the comic devoted to Wally mulling over recent events and how his marriage and children have been erased from reality are truly heart-wrenching, adding some heart to the otherwise otherworldly proceedings.
The artwork is similarly surprising. I was familiar with Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund’s work together on the Rebirth Titans series and they would be my first choice to draw a Wally West Flash story given their experience with the character. Yet I was still surprised by the quality of their work here. Booth’s pencils are an acquired taste but I feel he’s progressed tremendously as an artist despite his style having a quality that seems to have come from a 1990s Image comic. This means lots of overly-detailed line-work and as many panels fit into one page as possible, but in the case of Flash Forward, it works. There’s also some fantastic color art by Luis Guerrero.
While I still can’t say I’m happy about the circumstances of how this comic was created and how, ironically, it takes its time getting moving, I can say that Flash Forward #1 was far better than I expected. If you’re a fan of the Wally West Flash or have a vested interest in keeping up on the accelerating decay of DC Comics’ multiverse, you will definitely want to pick this up.
Flash Forward #1 releases on September 18th, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.