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‘The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive’ #1 sets the pace for a solid pre-movie story

Comic Books

‘The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive’ #1 sets the pace for a solid pre-movie story

For fans of romantic superheroes and kid-friendly hijinks.

Movie tie-ins are nothing new to comics. Heck, there’s been a bunch around Black Adam over the last few months, and they’ve already got the Dwayne Johnson press machine.

But few have ever had perhaps as unenviable a task as The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive.

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Yes, the creative team — writer Kyler Porter, artist Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, colorist Romulo Fajardo, Jr., and letterer Steve Wands  — aren’t the least bit connected to or even remotely responsible for the actions of the film’s star, Ezra Miller, whose deeds range from the creepy and weird to the downright criminal. But that doesn’t mean they’re not still somehow, even tangentially, involved, and this three-part series will inevitably help shape perceptions when the film does finally debut in mid-2023. So, does this offering somehow help the film’s extra sticky situation, or can we finally say the Flash film franchise is truly cursed?

And the answer is… things are OK if a pretty good comics story is enough to do anything.

DC Preview: The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1

Courtesy of DC Comics.

This first issue, which centers around a story called “Stronger than Steel,” sets a likely tone for the other two tales to come. Here, a Miller-esque Barry Allen has to contend with the mighty metal behemoth Girder. When he finds he can’t run his way out of this dilemma, Allen seeks out Batman (looking like an extra salt-and-pepper-y Ben Affleck — mostly) to help him train. Cue a mostly heartwarming tale where Barry learns to step up as a hero and trust in his role as the savior of Central City.

Was it a little hokey? Sure, it was a lot like a slightly lengthier tale you’d find in a typical DC Annuals issue, or a less cheesy episode of the actual Flash CW show. But I think this speed works, and even if some of the humor felt a little ugh-worthy (like a part about Barry breaking his ribs), it seems like the sort of tone and aesthetic that might work in getting fans excited about and feeling invested in the character — perhaps even for the first time.

‘The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive’ #1 sets the pace for a solid pre-movie story

Courtesy of DC Comics.

Obviously, it won’t feel or play out exactly like the Flash film, but I think something that skirts mainstream DCU canon and tries to paint a Barry that casual fans are familiar with is a generally good idea. Again, it’s not about trying to recreate the Flash movie property as we know it (so far) but trying to kind of bridge the gap a bit and maybe even soothe an misgivings or general disconnect some folks might be experiencing.

It’s a sense that’s continued into the art across the whole story. The book’s core style felt a little cutesy, like someone drew anime from memory. But again, that specific aesthetic not only fits with the larger goals of this title (which is, “Hey, kids, it’s your new favorite hero!”), it also does a lot to make some of the cheesier moments feel more impactful. Whether it’s the exaggerated design of Girder, Batman’s armor (not to mention his choice of training attire), the new Flash suit that debuts, or the gritty-meets-futuristic vibes of Central City, the art really helped nail down a lot of the personality that this title needed to feel truly necessarily and successful. I think it had just enough heft to it, while balancing that slightly cartoonish sensibilities, to feel like a perfect choice for engaging a greater cross-segment of audiences.

DC Preview: The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1

Courtesy of DC Comics.

That’s not to say I didn’t have some criticisms of the story. For one, while I appreciate that they tried to humanize Girder (by giving him an ailing dad), I don’t think it was done well enough to make a large enough impact form a storyline angle. Or, how Batman just felt like an afterthought, and we didn’t really get to see enough done to play the two heroes against one another for some much needed tension and development.

At the same time, though, I think the story’s mostly “immune” to these still-valid criticisms: it’s meant to be like the hero himself, a bright and shiny blur that makes folks feel good and gets them excited about the DCU itself. Did it always do that so swell? Mostly, even if it also felt a little deliberate and overly committed to the gag sometimes. (And that the main lesson was, ultimately, “Barry use your super punch and mind your dang surroundings.”) But that’s enough for so many readers, and there should be space for comics like these — quick hits of fun and general emotional poignancy— to just land as they may.

I’m certainly looking forward to the other two issues, especially as #2 is supposed to feature a story about Tar Pit and art from the always great Juan Ferreyra. I imagine it’ll likely be the same sort of tale, and the very same will likely hold true for issue #3. And with any luck, they’ll be just as light and sugary and fun to make us all further appreciate The Flash. And hopefully that feeling holds till the movie drops — unless you-know-who pulls anything else, of course.

‘The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive’ #1 sets the pace for a solid pre-movie story
‘The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive’ #1 sets the pace for a solid pre-movie story
The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1
With a new film (sort of) looming, now seems the perfect time to launch a most entertaining, canon-free tale of the Scarlet Speedster.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
The story does engage a wide enough audience, even those outside of the Flash fandom.
The art feels perfectly suited for the joyous, somewhat heartwarming tale of true superhero goodness.
The story leans more toward DC's film universe, for better and worse.
Don't expect anything more profound beyond your standard DC annual-level stories.
6.5
Good
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