As part of the first wave of DC’s Future State books, Future State: The Flash #1 flashes forward five years into the future of the Flash family. Written by Brandon Vietti, this debut serves as the Young Justice co-developer’s first foray into the comic landscape. Alongside Vietti is veteran illustrator Dale Eaglesham, who brings his signature talent to the book. While the narrative provides a fun by-the-numbers adventure, it’s the artistic talent behind this debut that truly gives the work its own voice.
The premise catches up with a completely de-powered Flash family in the near future. With their connection to the Speedforce cut off, they have had to adapt their crime fighting methods to rely on the technology of their greatest rivals. However, with a murderous Wally West wreaking havoc on the world, will their technological innovations be enough to save him? While it may not be the most original setup, Vietti’s writing imbues it with enough energy to craft a fun adventure.
A strong suit of the issue is how it harkens back to and embraces the sci-fi zaniness of the original Flash comics. Take the opening battle, for instance. Here, team Flash uses the bizarre technology of the rogues gallery to best the villainous Calculator, who has co-opted the Thinker’s thinking cap. There are ice rays, mirror guns, and prisma-goggles galore. Such a strong opening reminds one of the fun and lightheartedness that characterizes the Flash family.
Alongside this, Vietti tugs on many themes consistent across Flash narratives such as finding hope in the midst of overwhelming odds, as well as the responsibilities of father figures, specifically between Barry and Wally’s relationship. While this thematic resonance carries the work alongside the familiar voice Vietti imbues within the characters, it remains somewhat hindered by the antagonist set up.
Unfortunately, casting Wally West as the main antagonist is neither surprising or fresh. It also seems an odd choice, especially given the lengths other Flash titles have had to work to redeem his character after Heroes in Crisis. Though his villainous motivations can be attributed to outside forces, its core remains repetitive. As Future State is being touted as a “glimpse of wonders yet to come for the DC Universe,” one could expect a fresh take on the characters readers know and love. Yet this narrative seems confined to repeat the same tiresome loop modern Wally has been stuck in for years now.
Despite the narrative issues, the art is where this debut shines. Eaglesham’s linework deftly captures the heroic postures of the various Flash family members. As depicted in the opening scene, we get a glimpse at the whole family working together in superheroic fashion. Aityeh’s colors then come into play and breathe a fresh vision into the scene. Each character’s vibrant costumes immediately strike you and almost make them pop off the page. Then the technicolor electricity blasts from the “weather wand”, the mirror gun, and stun-tops add more depth. This captivating and energetic opening image cues one into the fantastic artistic style Eaglesham and Aityeh add to the rest of the work.
Alongside Eaglesham’s crisp linework is his creative use of paneling. His use of overlapping panels as well as unique layouts delivers the narrative in a fresh way. The layouts particularly shine during moments where actions are happening at superspeed. Since the protagonists have been depowered, the moments of superspeed are few and far between, but Eaglesham knows how to give these sparse moments the room to breathe and lends the sequences a sense of motion.
As a standalone Flash story, this debut works well, especially in the art department. Vietti’s story, while ordinary, captures the characters’ voices and tone. Eaglesham’s art paired with Mike Aityeh’s colors remains the strongest aspect of the issue. They give the book its own pop-sci-fi sensibility that lends itself to the narrative. However, when one places the issue within the broader scope of the DC Universe, it unfortunately falls short.
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