Review: THE FLASH #800
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Colours: Matt Herms, Ivan Plascencia, Luis Guerrero, Trish Mulvihill
Letters: Rob Leigh, Hassan Otsmane Elhaou
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Flash #800: An oversize anniversary issue concludes writer Jeremy Adams’s acclaimed tenure, with special guests Mark Waid, Joshua Williamson, and Geoff Johns joining the celebration! As the Adams run races to the finish line, get a prelude to the new Dawn of DC chapter of the Fastest Man Alive’s adventures from the dream team of Simon Spurrier and Mike Deodato Jr.!
While the most recent anniversary issue of The Flash (#750) was a celebration of all the Flashes and the extended Flash Family, The Flash #800 focuses primarily on the current star of the title, Wally West. And in general, this anniversary issue is more focused. It features less stories, but they are some of the most notable creators that have produced Wally’s modern adventures as the Flash.
Fittingly, the issue opens with a story by Jeremy Adams, the outgoing writer and concludes with a story from the title’s new writer, Simon Spurrier. But it also includes a story from Mark Waid, who brought Wally through a fantastic coming-of-age story that brought Wally out from under Barry Allen’s shadow. It also features a story by Geoff Johns who wrote several issues of Wally’s previous title, as well as Joshua Williamson, who wrote the first hundred of the title’s current incarnation.
The popular opinion would that Gotham City or perhaps Metropolis would be the worst target for a supervillain to stage a crime spree. But Adams’ story shows us a group of minor supervillains discussing why Central City is the very worst. They tell tales of various villains seeing the Flash’s home city as an easy target, but quickly regretting it. From minor villains like Condiment King to major threats like the Joker, the Flash Family makes quick work of them all.
And that points to something that many writers have to gloss over to give us more varied Flash stories. The simple fact is that a speedster character is almost certainly going to defeat any non-speedster. Adams pokes a bit of fun at the inconvenient truth that writers have to make it plausible for non-speedsters to have a fighting chance against the Flash. Otherwise the only villains that would appear in the series would be other speedsters.
Adams’ story is a nice little coda to his run on the title. Adams’ run has returned a lot of fun and lightheartedness to The Flash. And so instead of trying to recap the events of his run, he encapsulates that feeling of fun into a single, short story. It’s this sense of fun that I will miss most now that he’s moving on to other projects.
Mark Waid’s story features Impulse, who has to rescue Wally and Max Mercury, who are trapped in a mirror dimension by Mirror Master. Given that this story features Bart and Max, and that the One-Second War storyline showed them setting off into the future, I have to wonder if DC has an Impusle/Max Mercury project in the works. Both characters have been somewhat underused in recent years – especially Max. So, it would be great to see them headlining a new mini or ongoing title.
Joshua Williamson’s story features Barry and Iris, as Wally narrates what they mean to him, and what they have taught him about the meaning of family. This is rather fitting, considering that Williamson’s run featured Barry as the star. It’s also great to see that Williamson’s story focuses on how happy Barry and Iris lives are right now.
Barry spent most of Williamson’s hundred-issue run trying to become the hopeful and optimistic hero he had previously been. And this story assures us that Barry has achieved this. And it goes further to show how Wally and his family also share in Barry and Iris’ happiness.
Geoff Johns’ contribution to The Flash #800 focuses on Hunter Zolomon, a.k.a. Zoom. Johns story is mostly a recap of Zoom’s origin and a teaser for his possible return. I wonder if this hints at a possible confrontation with Wally for Si Spurrier to recount in these pages. Or could it be that Johns will write the story himself in an upcoming miniseries. Either way, my curiosity is piqued and I look forward to reading that story when it surfaces.
Finally, The Flash concludes with Si Spurrier’s inaugural Flash story. During this story, Wally faces off against Mirror Master. But we see that an unknown being has enhanced the villain’s tech. Wally doesn’t have much difficulty escaping Mirror Master’s trap. But he finds that it’s awoken a new power in Wally, which he describes as “stepping sideways through overlapping layers of existence”.
This raises a number of intriguing questions that Spurrier will undoubtedly tackle in the months ahead. Who is this mysterious being? And what does it want with Wally? And how is Wally’s new power different from his existing abilities to travel through different dimensions and parallel Earths. It’s a fascinating starting point for a new direction for the title.
I also have to add that while I think DC does tend to go way overboard with variants, The Flash #800 was somewhat a more restrained cash-grab than #750 was. That issue had 10 variants of a $10 book book (not counting the more expensive ratio variants), while this issue had 8 variants of a $5.00 book (and two ratio variants). Still a bit expensive for completionist collectors, but nowhere as extreme as the earlier anniversary.
Which brings us to the major drawback. Now matter how intriguing, a new direction wasn’t needed. Jeremy Adams run on The Flash has been utter magic, and he has stated that he still had further stories planned. While I’m sure that Spurrier’s run will prove excellent, I can’t help feeling that DC throwing a fantastic opportunity away by pushing Adams out in favour of Spurrier.
What DC should have done instead is to have let Adams continue on this title chronicling Wally’s adventures and created a second title featuring Barry for Spurrier to write. From what we know of his plans, it sounds like a story better suited to Barry than Wally, anyway.
I just hope that the change of writers does not prove as disastrous as when DC kicked Peter J. Tomasi and Dan Jurgens off the Superman titles and gave them to Brian Michael Bendis. Judging by Spurrier’s other work, it shouldn’t be quite that bad, thankfully. But, I will try to keep an open mind as Spurrier’s story unfolds. And as much trepidation as this gives me, it doesn’t diminish from the high quality of this issue.
The issue ends with a blurb stating, “Join Wally and the Flash Family in a new #1, this September…”. The brief hiatus is due to the Knight Terrors crossover event. However, I don’t like the implication that DC is dropping the recently restored legacy numbering and rebooting back to #1.
But it wouldn’t be so bad if DC were to adopt the system they just started using with Batman. DC has started dual-numbering that title with Batman #135 also bearing the legacy numbering as #900. I would be okay with DC bringing out the next issue of this title out as The Flash #1/#801.
But the dropping of the legacy numbering is a problem that potentially belongs to the next issue. For the moment, The Flash #800 still bears the legacy numbering.
While I still worry that DC was unwise to take Adams off this title, I will keep an open mind to Spurrier’s new direction. However, that doesn’t detract from the high quality of this issue. I look forward to seeing where Spurrier’s story will take us. But Spurrier does have some big shoes to fill and I hope he’s up to the task.
Review: THE FLASH #800 [Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers] Writers: Jeremy Adams, Mark Waid, Joshua…
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