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Comic Book Throwback Review – The Flash #20 (DC Comics)

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The Flash #20

Writer: William Messner-Loebs
Pencils: Greg LaRocque
Inks: Larry Mahlstedt
Colors: Michele Wolfman
Letterer: Steve Haynie
Publisher: DC Comics
Maturity Rating: 12+

Wally West is down on his luck. The fastest man alive is homeless and hungry; without any food, he can’t use his super-speed! How will Wally West survive on the streets?

 

Wally West is Homeless in The Flash #20

Hey, we are back with another Throwback Review. This time we are jumping to 1988 with The Flash #20. In this very special issue, we find Wally West and his mother surprisingly evicted from their apartment and becoming homeless, right after making disparaging remarks about a homeless man inside their apartment building. Well, isn’t that just a coincidence? It looks like Wally West is going to learn a lesson the hard way!

The Flash #20 (DC Comics) cover by Greg LaRocque
The Flash #20 (DC Comics) cover by Greg LaRocque

The cover and description of this issue are what really drew me in to The Flash #20. That cover is great, with Flash looking very disheveled and begging for money. It begs you to pick it up and figure out what happened. Also, the description of Flash losing his powers because he can’t eat is an immediate read for me. Nothing interests me more than superheroes and their calorie intake (especially speedsters). Nothing delights me more than seeing what they have to eat to maintain that much activity!

After School

A bit unfortunately, The Flash #20 reads a bit like an Afterschool Special. After Wally and friends call the cops on a homeless man who just wants a place to sleep, you can see where this is going. Writer William Messner-Loebs gets his point across pretty bluntly. There is no subtlety in The Flash #20.

Wally goes pretty fast (haha) from joking around with his friends to being homeless and begging on the streets. It all happens within a few hours. I know Messner-Loebs wanted to make a point about the plight of the homeless, but I don’t know if making the Flash homeless was the best way to do it. It is a little bit goofy, and that is before the story ends with an alien invasion.

Just Eat It

Let’s get to the other focal point of the story. The Flash does some speed running before he realizes he has no money and can’t get food. Which leads him to losing his powers! I guess it is my fascination with eating, and the fact that a lot of times I work out a lot just so that I can eat a lot, that I love this so much. I mean, with that much running the Flash should be eating on just about every panel and page he is on.

I could read volumes about Flash trying to find food. In fact, really, every superhero should be eating all the time. Maintaining those physiques at such high activity levels isn’t easy. How many calories do you think Batman burns chasing down the Joker? Or when the Avengers fight Thanos? That’s got to be a lot!

Anyway, Wally ends up eating a pretzel off the street and learning a valuable lesson about life.

The Eyebrows

We get some solid artwork in The Flash #20 by Greg LaRocque (pencils), Larry Mahlstedt (inks), Michele Wolfman (colors) and Steve Haynie (letterer). I mean it is not going to knock your socks off or anything, but it is solid artwork. The facial work is great. The characters all have wonderfully descriptive faces and looks.

There are some good action-type panels and pages. LaRocque does a great job of showing movement across the pages. Mahlstedt adds some nice details with his thick ink work.

The coloring isn’t bad but, man, what is up with Wally West’s eyebrows? He has red hair but his eyebrows are a highlighter yellow in The Flash #20. It legitimately looks like somebody went over his eyebrows with a yellow highlighter. It is the most distracting thing.

I am not sure because this is a comic from 1988 whether something messed up with the printing process or the paper, maybe, hopefully? But man, it is bad. In one scene Wally’s hair also changes to blonde and an elder African-American man with white hair’s eyebrows also magically turn blonde in one scene. Every panel I was transfixed by characters’ eyebrows.

Hungry Like the Wolf

So, this was not the best issue of The Flash that I have ever read. The cover really dragged me into an Afterschool Special story. The Flash becomes homeless in a matter of hours and learns that maybe we should not be so quick to judge people. A very important lesson that could have been told in a better manner.

We do, though, get to think and consider about The Flash’s calorie consumption and his need for food. Those are the important thoughts to really ponder on. We may never learn the mystery of Wally’s eyebrows, though. I give The Flash #20 two lightning bolts out of five, mainly for the food for thought.


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