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Off The Rack Comic Review: Flash Forward

March 29, 2020 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Flash Forward
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Off The Rack Comic Review: Flash Forward  

This is a rather unintentional series I have cultivated.

I have previously reviewed DC: Rebirth, Flash War, and Heroes In Crisis in this column. The overarching, Post-New-52 story of those books brings us to the very recently concluded Flash Forward, and here we are.

It was never really intentional. Somehow in my blending together or newer and older books, I just kept coming back to DC and their Rebirth return of Wally West. It makes sense; I REALLY missed Wally.

Regardless, we are here now, so… let’s see how this character arc continues!

TITLE: Flash Forward

Writer and Artist: Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth

Publisher: DC

Protagonists: Wally West, Fuginaut

Antagonists: Dark Matter

Flash Forward is the direct follow-up to the messy, unpopular ending to Tom King’s Heroes In Crisis. That mini-series left beloved legacy hero Wally West broken and guilty of killing many of the other heroes who had relied on Sanctuary to protect and care for them in their darkest hours.

Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn was another Heroes In Crisis fallout book, and I am reminded of how it was a perfectly adequate series, but—in the grand recent DC tradition of making sure we can never, ever just have nice things—had an immense downer of an ending.

Flash Forward starts off with Wally in prison following Heroes In Crisis. Being a superhero, he is obviously not having a great go of it. He quickly fights off an attempt on his life from Tarpit and Girder only to find himself meeting an ages-old cosmic being known as Fuginaut. The stranger arms Wally with a shooty stick, cryptically tells Wally that the latter has become “unmoored”, and send him off into the multiverse to fight the dark energy that is threatening to devour whole worlds.

From there it’s an adventure across newly imagined realities. Flash fights stand-ins for The Avengers and The X-Men! Flash and Arsenal take on the Justice League of Vampires! He battles to stop two other worlds from crashing into each other!

At the end of it all, he finds a last world, one made up entirely of dark energy and home to two people he never he would see again: his children, Jai and Iris West. Everything being cyclical, we find out that Wally’s own fear and guilt created this last world, and it is the source of all the dark energy destroying the rest of the multiverse.

It’s… weird. Sometimes you just have to roll with these things. Wally missed his reality-displaced twins, so entire worlds die. In the real world if your kids die, you go into therapy and talk to a professional. In comics, you get to punch the embodiment of your remorse before it eats time itself. I’ll let you decide which is better.

In the end, Wally claims the Mobius chair, destroys the dark world, and becomes some kind of amalgam of Wally, the Chair, and… Dr. Manhattan? Huh.

Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn ended with an unambiguously unpleasant ending. A fun, light-hearted series for five issues, it devolved into bitter melodrama at the end with DC splitting the charming couple up and reverting Ivy back to a more purely selfish and evil villain.

Flash Forward’s ending is more nuanced. Sure Wally is bound to the Mobius Chair and displaying Dr. Manhattan’s emblem on his forehead (seriously… where is THAT going?), and that isn’t great. But there is a balance to that as Jai and Iris are returned to the “real” world and Linda Park gets her memories back of her husband and kids. It is a delightfully conflicting ending that pulls you in two different directions. I appreciate that it makes me hopeful and foreboding at the same time.

Brett Booth is the artist across Flash Forward, and he is absolutely great. He has some great realistic anatomy and facial work, and he manages to do both light-hearted moments and direly dark ones with equal brilliance. I really enjoyed his pencils on this series, and they only added to Lobdell’s story.

And it’s a good story. Most of the time it is focused towards a singular goal, but admittedly the Mobius Chair stuff felt a little sideways and tacked-on. I’m sure that’s a call from DC executives and they have some plan in mind for, oh let’s call him Dr. Wallius Chairhattan. Lobdell’s base tale of Wally overcoming his regret and his guilt and his fear and returning to the more hopeful and cheerful hero he was prior to the New 52 is solid. You can tell he maybe never knew what to do with the Chair, so that is why it feels extraneous, but everything else works towards a single end.

It feels earned across just six issues, too. There are moments throughout the series where Wally sheds, bit-by-bit, the cocoon he has wrapped himself in, climaxing with the reunion with his children. Heroes in Crisis tore Wally down, and Flash Forward is where he starts climbing out of the pit.

Also, Dan Didio is gone! So maybe DC will treat him properly again after this.

Talking Point: Well, Wally is tied into Doc Manhattan now… somehow. How have you felt about the Rebirth-era combining of the DC Universe proper with the Watchmen universe?

And while you’re thinking on that, if you want to enjoy more comic book related blogs and a weekly podcast, visit Ghosts of the Stratosphere. Our podcast is full of debates, top ten lists, and comic reviews, and we update daily!

You can also follow us on Twitter, @gotstratosphere for updates!

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
The art is great, and I have always been a fan of Scott Lobdell. Here he takes a character who felt destined to be boring and one-note in Fuginaut and made him layered and empathetic. He also erected a story to rebuild Wally West that worked after everything he’d been through, even if it’s just a stop-gap to whatever DC is going to do to him next. Linda and the twins being back together was a perfect note to conclude on, too since so much of Wally’s early Rebirth stories were about her forgetting him. 

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Off the Rack, Rob Stewart