Review : Flash Forward #1 (2019)

The story8.5
The characterisation 10
The writing10
The art10
The color9
The covers10

If there is one point where every Wally West aficionados will agree, it might be the simple fact that the last few months, if not the last years, have been really exhausting. While we were promised hope, ideals and, more importantly, entertaining stories, unfortunately, the DC Universe took a dark turn and all we got, week after week, was about death, sorrow, more death, despair, pain and death again. Many readers walked away from this path and it was like everything DC stood for was gone forever, without any chance of redemption. Worst of all, it undermined one of the greatest chapter in the comic book history, which was DC Universe : Rebirth.

And yet, it seems some of the complaints were heard by DC and there's still hope for our favorite character.

Coming right from the pages of Heroes in Crisis, Flash Forward is a mini-series written by Scott Lobdell and illustrated by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund, which has the huge task to appease the uproar of the readership and save a beloved hero from what we can call « an accident ». Were they up to the challenge ? Well, when everything seems to be going against them, Flash Forward #1 is a great start and our heroes deliver an amazing adventure through the Multiverse and what could be a heartbreaking journey to redemption.

This brand new chapter had a lot of elements to reintroduce in the first place, like bringing back Tempus Fuginaut, a difficult exercice I imagine, since he is a blank slate and he's definitely not the easiest character to write. He is like a deity, a guardian who watchs the Multiverse and beyond his role in Sideways, we don't know much about him or really care about such an inhuman figure. Then, Lobdell also had to remind the readership of the Dark Multiverse's infection while most of us believed it ended with the Metal storyline. If you are not reading The Batman Who Laughs or the new Batman/Superman titles, these pages are a necessary step to keep up with what's going on in the DCU or what will happen in the near future and Lobdell has well summarized everything you need to know while insufflating an epic breath to story.

Back to Earth Prime, Wally West is in prison, mourning his fallen comrades and reflecting on what happened at the Sanctuary. Which is the perfect occasion for our team to introduce a first RetCon, showing Wally and the greatest archer of the DCU, Roy Harper, interacting and messing around. While it's incoherent, let's be honest, I'm pretty sure nobody will mind if Lobdell makes a few adjustments to Heroes in Crisis. One the contrary, the scene portrayed by Brett Booth is absolutely fantastic and this is exactly what we expect and crave to see on a DC book. Although, I have to admit I am really concerned by Wally's obsession for the pizza-fish … What kind of monster would eat that ?! Sure it requires some kind of therapy ...

In all seriousness, this episode was a nice gift to the readers and a gift much needed because the rest of the story is far from being joyful. What is truly interesting here is the way Lobdell and Booth depicted how Wally's past is constantly coming back to beat him. Litteraly. It was a great move to bring back Geoff Johns' Rogues, which is right now the only part of Wally's legacy that's still present in the DCU. Depressing, isn't it ? That being said, hat off to our creative team, because they did a fantastic job with the characters and Murmur must be the one who has the coolest scene of the book. Brett Booth's fights are amazing and it was a good way to show Wally's combativity. Yes, he's at his worst, he wants to give up, he is ready to let criminals deliver the final blow but in the end, he's still one of the bravest hero, and he will always fight back despite what he is going through.

The appearance of Linda was also much appreciated. Once again, while that's the reunion we desperately wanted to see, it's another reminder of Wally's past haunting him. And yet, the page is beautiful, it echoes perfectly the confessional panels of Heroes in Crisis and it's enough to spark hope for a future with the Flash Family back together, where Linda Park is finally fighting side by side with Wally, like things used to be. Unfortunately, it's not going to happen in this issue and this first reunion ends up with a panel focusing on Wally's empty chair, which is a brilliant transition for the interlude.

The interlude might be one of the biggest surprise of the book. When DC relaunched their universe with Rebirth, most of the plotlines of the New 52/DCYou era were forgotten or sidelined, just like the ending of Darkseid War and what happened to the Mobius Chair. We don't know what it means for our Flash, and let's hope the fastest man alive in the Multiverse won't have to sit down forever on a chair, but the mystery of the Mobius Chair and how it ties to Wally's journey is fascinating and more than welcomed. Anyway, it's always great to see a writer playing with the continuity and adding these storylines to the background of his characters.

Finally, the story really kick-off when the Tempus Fuginaut appears in Blackgate and asks for Wally's help. After a brief reference to The Flash #189, Wally is back in his Rebirth suit but you can see there's something different : the Speed Force on his lightning bolt is darker than usual as if it were some kind of infection caused by the Dark Multiverse. It's way too early to speculate on these dark lightnings but if it's really something of importance and if Wally's link to the Speed Force is indeed corrupted by the Dark Multiverse, it could explain the explosion at the Sanctuary, and it could also mean our Flash might be able to prove his innocence at the end of the story. But for the time being, we will enjoy the ride through the Multiverse and wait another month to learn more about the Dark Multiverse's infection.

Like stated above, Flash Forward #1 is a fantastic first step in the right direction and, more than that, it's definitely an interesting journey across the darker corners of the DC Universe. With fragments from Darkseid War, Rebirth, Metal, Sideways and Multiversity, Scott Lobdell is writing a tale as profound as generous, and Brett Booth's gorgious art only makes it better. It's not the story we expected when Wally came back from oblivion, but it's still a story that deserves to be supported as much as possible.

Don't forget to thank Doc Shaner and Inhyuk Lee for creating each month iconic covers !

Buy Flash Forward #1 on ComiXology.




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