Review: The Flash #21 (Spoilers)

The Flash 21 cover
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer/Artist: Francis Manapul
Release Date: 6/26/13

The Flash has been one of the most acclaimed titles in the New 52 relaunch. And with relaunch artist Francis Manapul now confidently both writing and drawing the adventures of the Fastest Man Alive; Barry Allen has never had such fast paced adventures (pun incredibly intended). With several intersecting plot arcs, Flash has already dealt with his Rogues, now enhanced with metahuman powers, Gorilla Grodd, and a nasty scientist who he once thought was his friend. In the adventure that started this recent string of stories,Barry, Iris West and a few others were swept into the Speed Force. When they returned, Barry was faster, and the other Speed Force trapped people, other than Iris, have exhibited Speed Force related abilities. And now they’re all being hunted by the new Reverse Flash. Looking for a connection, Barry seeks out someone with a similar symbol to that of the Speedster Killer, Kid Flash.

This first meeting is not going to go well.

It’s not a Flash get-together without a round-the-world chase; and this is no exception. Starting in media res in Paris, Kid Flash is acting like any teenager chased by a strange adult, he runs. In this case, into the Louvre where he uses masterpieces to slow down The Flash (I have to agree with Barry  teens these days do not respect the classics). Bart seriously doesn’t want to talk to Barry and literally leaves The Flash in the dust in Algeria. While phoning Red Robin for an evac from Bangalore, Kid Flash is finally caught by Flash. But when Barry grabs Bart, he immediately knows Bart is from the future. Readers of Teen Titans know that Bart is steadily getting more aware of that fact. What people might not know is the Speed Force of the future has a different feel than the one in the present (Spacey Wacey Timey Wimey?).  Barry feels sorry for the kid, but Bart doesn’t listen to reason. In their continued chase, Kid Flash reaches escape velocity and its up to the Flash to save him. However Kid Flash is not up for advice, and it makes you wonder what else is in store for Bart Allen as well as his unknowing grandpa (that’s Barry Allen for those not initated to the Flashes, again Spacey Wacey Timey Wimey). As for Iris, her recently paroled brother wants a second chance; but she’s not that willing. And of course, Reverse Flash is still on the prowl.

Manapul writes a fast paced tale, which is needed for the Flash. And as for any great chase story, this one covers most of the globe as the two speedsters chase each other. It’s also interesting to see the two different personalities clash: calm, collected Barry versus hot headed, adventurous Bart. It’s also interesting to see Bart act like a snotnosed punk, but this is at odds with his hyperactive goofy portrayal that we normally know him for before the New 52, Young Justice and in Teen Titans. And that is a tad distracting. However, it’s nice to see the interplay. It’s also kinda sad to see Barry trying to help someone and that person refuse his aid even after he saved them from going into orbit. Manapul however gives us some tiny hints on Bart’s revised origins, as well as making several references to the past incarnations of the characters (including Barry saying that Bart is “impulsive”). Also the idea of the Speed Force of having different feels based on timeline is quite inspired. I hope that Manapul revisits Bart Allen sooner rather than later and bring back more of the goofball we love; as well as further revelations of the time traveling teen speedster. Pacing wise, there is a small bit at the end that could have been cut.

As for art, Manapul once again brings his A-game. With his soft color palate, he still gives us the sensation of speed, as well as different “con-trails” for our two speedsters. He also shows the similarities, as well as differences, between the two speedsters. The two Allens share a certain family resemblance, if not personalities. His locations are just as stunning, be it the Louvre, Bangalore, or just the open sea. His lighting effects, literally bolts of lightning as the Flashes rush past, are done with aplomb.

While somewhat off putting given Kid Flash’s different personalities between this title and Teen Titans, this is still an enjoyable read and I hope Kid Flash comes back soon to team up with his grandpa. Though the eventual revelation might be weird for both. Remember you two Spatial-Temporal travelers…”Spoilers”.


About the author

Daniel Kalban

Daniel is the writer of The Eagle webcomic and aspires to one day join his favorite writers at the Big 2. Until then, he keeps plugging away at various projects, as well as serving as a reporter for Word of the Nerd on various subjects, especially the DC Comics "beat".

Contact him at

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