Issue: The Flash #9: “Case Two: The Road To Flashpoint”
Release Date: February 9, 2011
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Francis Manapul
Colors: Brian Buccellatto
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover A: Francis Manapul (Colors: Brian Buccellatto)
Cover B: Tyler Kirkham, Batt, and Nei Ruffino
Publisher: DC Comics
With the release of the first issue of the new The Flash ongoing series in April of last year, DC Comics gave us our first glimpse of this year’s big summer event, Flashpoint. Details were pretty thin on the ground, as there were two pages, the first of which consisting mainly of some prophetic text overlaid on widescreen images that showed the main members of the Flash Family in seemingly troubled situations and the second page being a splash page of Andy Kubert art showing Barry Allen-Flash running, surrounded by Speed Force lightning. Some of the Speed Force lightning appears to be coalescing in the form of angel wings behind Barry. But around Barry, there are images of a world (or worlds) that we don’t know, showing interpretations of Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman and Green Lantern that we’ve not seen before. And oh yeah, Paris seems to be under water.
And that was all we got, no more than that. Unlike the build up to last year’s Blackest Night event, information surrounding Flashpoint has been hard to come by. But that was then and this is now.
Flashpoint is almost upon us now and DC Comics has started working in earnest towards getting us interested. They’ve started a “Flashpoint Friday” section on their “Source” blogsite where fans can post questions that will (possibly) be answered by Geoff Johns or someone connected to the series. Teaser advertisements have started popping up on the website and in the comics themselves asking questions that I assume the series will answer. The teasers tell us / ask us “The spaceship never crashed.” “He spends his days running Wayne Casinos.” “Where is his ring?” “They experimented on him for years.” And maybe the most curious one of all: “Their Marriage was arranged to prevent war.” When you combine the teasers with the image from April of last year, the solutions seem to be somewhat obvious. But I don’t think that Johns would give us answers that easily, certainly not before the event has even started. But start it will, and pretty damn soon too.
The February 2011 issue of The Flash is the start of the book’s second storyline. Playing into the fact that Barry Allen is once again working as a Police Scientist, it’s “Case Two: The Road To Flashpoint.”
Issue 9 starts off outside a Central City biker bar called Speed Demons where some late-night revelers are surprised by lighting and a displaced voice, followed by a man on a motor bike with lightning-flames coming from the wheels. Though this character isn’t named in the issue, we know from previews in other comics that his name is “Hot Pursuit.” And through the ago-old device of exposition that’s not directed at any particular character, we know that he needs fuel (of what kind?) and that he needs to find Barry Allen.
While Hot Pursuit is in… hot pursuit of Barry, Barry is hard at work investigating the death of an old man in a costume that very closely resembles the costume of Ralph Dibney. It turns out the the old man-corpse is actually that of a low-level teenage superhero named “Elongated Kid,” but apart from the issue of the fact that the old man-corpse ain’t a teenage-corpse, Barry is also a bit puzzled by the fact that he has no memory or knowledge of the Elongated Kid. The reason for this may be one of the roads to Flashpoint.
For the first time in this new series, we finally see Wally West. He’s at a picnic with the rest of The Flash Family, but Barry hasn’t shown up, as he’s busy at work. Barry calls his wife at the picnic to tell her that he can’t face being there due to his guilt about the death of his mother at the hands of Professor Zoom, The Reverse Flash. We’re reminded during the course of this conversation that Zoom has gone back in time to mess with the history of Barry Allen, and indeed, in a recent issue we’ve seen Zoom go back in time to tamper with his own personal timeline. I don’t think that this is just an effort by Johns to give us some character background; I think that this is Johns waving a big huge flag in front of our faces to tell us that this timeline-tampering is going to be what leads in to Flashpoint, and the fact that Barry specifically can’t remember the Elongated Kid might, just might, be the first indicator that he’s the only person who can tell when something in the timeline changes and can remember how it used to be. Maybe Barry Allen is really Al Calavicci?
After leaving the crime scene, Barry is back in police headquarters, trying to get in touch with an old colleague who has left the hectic, bloody life in Central City for a quieter life in Blue Valley. When the power suddenly goes out in the building, Barry goes to the window of his office (he’s clearly not an electrician) and he sees Hot Pursuit pass by the window. Does the power loss have something to do with the “fuel” that was mentioned at the start of the issue?
Naturally enough, Barry chases after Hot Pursuit and shouts a demand at him, but due to the laws of physics, the demand isn’t heard by Hot Pursuit. Because they are moving faster than the speed of sound, Flash’s words never catch up with Hot Pursuit. This is a fact that he seems to take some pleasure in telling Flash. Flash, none too happy about being schooled by this new speedster remarks that Hot Pursuit has some of the hallmarks of law enforcement about him to which Hot Pursuit agrees and tells Flash that they are indeed on the same side before unmasking and revealing that he too is Barry Allen and that he’s here to avert the greatest time anomaly that has ever happened, or presumably will ever happen.
So here’s where I go public with some of my assumptions and guesses.
The Hot Pursuit version of Barry Allen seems to be a slightly different version of Barry. And judging from the fact that he’s drawn with Barry’s spirit-level-straight haircut, the fact that he rides a bike instead of running and the fact that he has no problem schooling Flash-Barry in what seems to be some pretty basics speed-physics, I’m betting that this version of Barry has no powers but has more knowledge of The Speed Force than Flash-Barry does.
I was glad to see Wally West (however briefly) in this issue and I hope that he has a big part to play in Flashpoint. For a while after Barry Allen returned, I was half sure that DC had killed off Wally and had just forgotten to tell anyone about it. Under the cares of Mark Waid, Wally was one of the best characters in the DC Universe and it’s a shame that he’s been swept under the carpet now that Barry is back.
So now that Flashpoint is almost here, it’s time to start speculating. You’ve seen my thoughts and my musings. What are yours? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree with me? Let us know, and stick with us during the summer as Flashpoint unfolds.