Villain’s Month continues in the pages of The Flash, this time revealing the origin of Reverse Flash! Check out the DCN Review!
Writers Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul give us a Reverse Flash story that satisfies the mandate of a Villains’ Month issue while continuing their “Reverse” story. Manapul takes a breather from art duties this time, as the more than capable Scott Hepburn, known for his work at Dark Horse, steps in while Buccellato once again provides colors.
Buccellato and Manapul give Daniel West a clichéd villain origin story, but do so in a manner that is unapologetic that makes for an enjoyable read. Right away, in the second panel no less, they straight up acknowledge how this origin story is going to unfold. From there, we work backwards through the life of Daniel West. From the moment he develops his powers, back to his last moment of true happiness as a child, we learn what his motivations are.
West is not driven by a desire to bring pain to the Flash like Eobard Thawne, nor does he see it his duty to make sure that the Flash is at the top of his game a la Hunter Zolomon. Motivated by his love for his older sister, Iris, Buccellato and Manapul have planted the seeds of emotional depth that the Reverse Flash mantle has been long overdue for. Also, the brief appearance by the Rogues is sure to bring smiles to longtime fans.
Without Francis Manapul’s sublime penciling, I feared that this issue would suffer from a sharp drop in art quality. Luckily, Scott Hepburn’s artwork is very good and proves to be a worthy substitute. His style is similar enough to Manapul’s to not be jarring for regular readers, yet it remains wholly his own. The layouts are complex and experimental as we’ve come to expect from The Flash, and still easy to follow. He also keeps in the title’s tradition of imaginative title sequences with a gorgeous final page. Most importantly for this title, Hepburn does a fantastic job conveying speed to the reader.
As much as I enjoyed the origin of the new Reverse Flash, it is still somewhat unimaginative. Also, it was disappointing to see this Reverse Flash following in the footsteps of his predecessors by using time travel. Considering how muddled the Flash’s history was prior to the relaunch thanks to time-travel and selective retcons, I worry for its effect on the new Flash continuity.
Hepburn’s art is very good for the most part, but there are moments near in the final pages when it appears rushed. In other instances, faces look off, particularly the portrayal Daniel and Iris as children. It is also difficult to make out what certain details are supposed to be.
Villain’s Month continues to be a success for fans of the Scarlet Speedster, with quality books published in consecutive weeks. While there is one more installment to go with next week’s Rogues-centric issue, Buccellato and Manapul make a strong push towards the end of “Reverse” by pulling back the curtain on one of the biggest mysteries of the New 52. The Flash #23.2 does not disappoint.