The Flash #71
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
I’m a sucker for a good origin story. There’s just something about seeing a promising character transition into who they’re meant to be that fills me with joy. My favorite origin story is probably Batman: Year One and ever since that comic, many DC characters have had their own “Year One” story. Now, Barry Allen has his own revamped origin story with The Flash: Year One and it continues with chapter 2 in The Flash 71.
Picking up right where things left off, Barry unknowingly used his newfound speed abilities to travel into a far, dystopian future overrun by henchmen for a Z-list villain known as The Turtle. It wouldn’t be a Flash story without time-travel, as they’re practically one and the same. The difference is with this one, young Barry is freaking out about it.
No need to fear though, because an older, wiser Barry is there to accompany his younger self and also to assure him that the future awaiting Barry is an awesome one. He informs him that one day, he will become a superhero known as The Flash and go on countless adventures and not only save the world many times but the universe. Of course, the young, pessimistic introvert Barry can’t really figure out how he becomes a superhero when he doesn’t even want to leave his lab.
The story-telling trope of traveling into the far, screwed up future where you’re greeted by your future self has been done so many times that it’s really hard to keep it fresh these days. Now, it’s not done badly in this issue, but if anything it does fall a little flat.
Now, this isn’t time travel just for the sake of it. This cliche is here to serve a purpose. That purpose being that Barry gets a glimpse at the man he has yet to become. The man he should aspire to be. Yes, that is yet another cliche, but it helps to move the story foreword. It just, unfortunately, doesn’t feel all like a big, special moment that Joshua Williamson was aiming for.
It’s not bad, at all. It’s just lacking impact. I didn’t feel like I was reading anything super significant or pivotal. It didn’t feel special to me, but it wasn’t awful in any way.
I have sort of felt that way about the majority of Williamson’s Flash run. I never felt overwhelmed, but not exactly underwhelmed. Just… whelmed? Does that make sense? His work to me has been pretty average, but the artists he’s had that worked with him have done a very great job of capturing the high-octane action a Flash comic deserves. With Year One, Howard Porter is doing some of his best work since JLA with Grant Morrison. Porter’s change in style over the years hasn’t really done anything for me, but on Flash, I think he’s a near-perfect match.
The Flash (2016-) #71
The Flash: Year One's second chapter isn't anything that'll blow your mind, but it is an enjoyable read and probably the easiest time traveling story to digest.