Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Flash Annual #4 Review

Written by: Van Jensen
Art by: Bong Dazo, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: July 29, 2015

Time After Time

It's the fifth week of July and we all know what fifth weeks mean, right kids?  Yep, it's Annual time and while I have a bunch of Annuals to read and review (ugh!), The Flash was on the top of my pile and for good reason...I love it!  I am a huge fan of Robert Venditti, Van Jensen and Brett Booth's run on the Flash and while others haven't been too keen on the Professor Zoom arc going on right now, I have enjoyed the hell out of it so far.  Annuals can be tricky, however, and you never know what you're going to get.  It could be a one-shot out-of-continuity story, a direct continuation of the current arc or a side story that expands the book itself.  This Annual is kind of a combination of all of those, focusing on Professor Zoom and his timeless hate for The Flash.  Is it any good?  Let's find out.

If you are reading the current arc of The Flash, I don't have to tell you that Professor Zoom is a bad man.  While we are only a few issues in, he's shown that he doesn't mind taking his time bringing down Barry Allen and will fight him to the pain.  He wants to leave him in anguish, wallowing in freakish get the point.  What we haven't seen is more of Zoom's awesome team from the Sneak Peek a couple months ago.  Until now, that is.  Van Jensen not only gives us the origin of Team Zoom, but makes Thawne more of a bad guy in the process.

I love time travel stories and that's just what we get.  Van Jensen shows Zoom taking advantage of situations throughout time to convince other people connected to the Speed Force to join his fight against the greatest villain the world will ever know...The Flash.  We start in 1520 Mexico, head to 1883 South Africa, travel to 1957 Australia and stop off in 1982 Oklahoma before ending in the present.  Along the way, Thawne adds another piece to his puzzle and Jensen adds another unique member to the Speed Force Mythos.

This team isn't a bunch of guys who run real fast, though.  We get a woman who can control aging, a man who can fold through space, a woman who can slow her atoms down until she is impervious and immovable and a boy who can spin like a hurricane (or a certain devil from Tasmania).  Each of them has been touched by the Speed Force and treated like a freak...and that's exactly what Thawne takes advantage of.  While it is reminiscent of Magneto and that other company's mutant book I'm not allowed to mention on our all DC Comics site, Van Jensen takes it a big, bad step further.

Professor Zoom is not a man who leaves things to chance and after you think the story has ended, Jensen does a little time traveling himself and takes us back through every thing we've just read, but at a slightly different angle.  If you thought that Thawne was just a misguided soul with Flash envy at the beginning of this Annual, you will leave knowing that he is a cold hearted snake with no soul.

As a fan of the current arc, I loved this issue.  It ties in with the Sneak Peek and sets up the book for some crazy fun.  I can't wait to see Team Zoom go against Flash and pray that they see the true Thawne before it's too late.  If you aren't reading the regular run, I think this issue will just leave you confused so I can't recommend it. If your in that boat, I do recommend going back to the beginning of the New 52 and catch up by reading every issue that leads up to this Annual.  You can thank me later.

I am a huge Brett Booth fan so when I didn't see his name on the cover, I was a bit bummed.  I'm not bummed anymore.  Bong Dazo's art is almost as good as his name...and that means it's awesome.  I was an instant fan and will certainly look for more of his work.  It also helps that series regulars Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse are on inks and colors respectively.  They always make the Flash look great and this issue is no exception.

Bits and Pieces:

Van Jensen does a great job of using this Annual to expand the villain roster of the current Flash run as well as the Speed Force mythos to boot.  While Professor Zoom has shown his evil ways already, Jensen shows to what extent he will go to destroy Barry Allen.  The art by Bong Dazo is great and while new readers will probably be confused, it is a must read for fans of the current story arc.  I'm one of those, so I had a great time.


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