The Flash: Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato, Ian Herring, Wes Abbott
I have to say how much I continue to be impressed with this book. Every time we’re given a good, character-driven story, and the Zero Issue is no exception. We learn, in this issue, the story of Barry’s parents, and how their actions have affected Barry’s life…how they’ve shaped him into the man he is, superspeed included.
We begin with Barry visiting his father in prison, where he’s incarcerated for the murder of his wife, Nora - Barry’s mother. They’re discussing the case, of course. It seems Barry looks at the files, the evidence, the sequence of events every year on the anniversary of the day it happened. Frustratingly, it always comes up the same. But Barry’s hopeful, because technology advances leaps and bounds every year, and they’re bound to come up with something that’ll help Barry’s dad’s innocence shine through.
Barry’s dad, Henry, though…admits his guilt. He admits to killing Nora Allen. We see, at the same time, Barry working in the lab when he’s struck by lightning and doused in chemicals…the accident that spawns his superspeed powers. It’s a great scene with incredible artwork. What I love most about it, though, is that this isn’t it. This isn’t right when Barry discovers his superspeed. He doesn’t get up, dust himself off, and start running. No, he’s just been struck by lightning. He’s laid up in the hospital with serious burns.
There’s a flashback to Barry’s childhood as he prepares for a spelling bee - an event in which he typically does very well - and we learn the genesis of the famous Barry Allen bow tie. His mom affixes it to his shirt as he’s about to leave for the competition. For some reason, that was the saddest part of the entire issue for me…. That this symbol, this small thing - with a boost of confidence from Nora - stuck with Barry throughout his life. He continued to wear bowties, not neckties, from that day forward.
The story continues on to show how Barry discovered his speed and became the Flash, developed the plating that he uses to shield himself and others from the friction his powers create, and how he stopped his first crime as the Scarlet Speedster. It’s pretty epic. Barry then tells his father that, no matter what, he’s going to continue to look at the evidence in his mother’s case and figure out who really killed her. It doesn’t matter what his father says.
Manapul’s art is really great here, as usual, but I especially like how he made young Barry look. I’ve always been impressed with how accurately Manapul ages Barry, making him definitely look like the same character. Not everyone gets that. There are a couple of really great scenes in this issue, like the lightning strike, Barry running to a halt after waking from his coma, Flash jump-kicking through the car window, and the page of panels where he’s assembling his costume. Just really love the imagery in this ish. Everything is really vibrant in this issue as well…the colors with the speed force and motion lines, and the scene in the park. I like how the flashbacks are subdued as well.
The Flash #0, the verdict: Another excellent issue, and a really outstanding approach to Barry’s origin. I loved reading it, and I loved reading it again. It’s tragedy is very present and leaves a strong impact on the reader. I really felt for Barry in both the sadness of finding his mother murdered, and in his resolve for proving his father innocent. I like that I’m finding myself rooting for Barry to find his father innocent, while at the same time I’m looking at Henry like he’s the murderer, and hating him for it. That’s such an interesting dynamic. Very well done.
(Photo Source: DC Comics)