Jeremy Adams slams into the new year with a story that immediately pulverizes several city blocks and puts the Flash family in one of the deadliest situations they’ve faced in Flash #790!
Flash #790 – The Story
In Flash #790, writer Jeremy Adams has been selling this arc on twitter and in interviews for months, both as a test for his desired twice a month release pace, and as a way to highlight a truly Flash Family epic using their unique shared powers as both their greatest strength and greatest weakness in a war that lasts only 60 seconds of non-Speed Force time. This first issue starts out like a classic television show arc – a cold open of the villains, called the Fraction, led by a scary looking Admiral and Empress, slamming their giant invasion craft into Central City, just as Wally, Iris, Jai, and Irey host a barbeque with Wally’s boss Mr. Terrific and the West family friends, Animal Man, his wife and daughter, Animal Girl. Though absolutely bog-standard in superhero/sci-fi/fantasy adventure TV writing, it’s nice seeing it so efficiently deployed here, really getting you into the stakes of the arc, and giving a bit of warmth before the extremely violent storm to come. Adams also sets up where Max Mercury, performing dangerous experiments with the Speed Force, Jesse Quick (and her husband Rick the Hourman), Ace (Kid Flash) and Impulse, Jay Garrick the first Flash, and most tragically, Barry and Iris, caught in the main blast of the invasion craft impact, with Iris apparently dead or grievously injured (as also hinted at on the final main cover of the arc) just after proposing to Barry. In addition to writing all of these Flash Family members with strong emotional hooks for readers, even those who don’t know them well, Adams and artist Roger Cruz make the invasion ship feel like a billion-dollar movie, with great visualizations of its tech, especially the deployment of The Wall. All in all, though of course the real-time events of the book are just a few seconds, the first 15 minutes or so of a film or TV production zip past while providing large amounts of warmth, excitement, humor, and drama – even perhaps some tragedy! The problem has arrived, and our heroes must assemble to solve it!
Adams has been working with several different artists throughout this Flash run, probably indicating the low priority of the book. Most frequent recently has been Spanish artist Fernando Pasarin, who does consistent, detailed and intricate work, with odd poses and very recognizable, often unappealing facial work – but still manages to get the art done and not look at all halfhearted. This arc, showing dedication by both Adams and editorial, is solicited as entirely drawn by Roger Cruz, most recently the second lead artist of Joshua Williamson’s excellent Robin run featuring Damian Wayne (and Flatline!).
While Cruz’s work is much blockier in composition and cartoony in style than Pasarin’s, it does tend to be a bit more appealing, and his energy and appeal definitely fits with the writing style and concept for the book as a family adventure superhero book. Though obviously other artists will have to come in after these six issues are done, hopefully Cruz will become a fixture on the Flash this year, as this is quite a strong showing in the first episode. Inker Wellington Dias provides strong but not overwhelming linework to complete Cruz’s pencils, and colorist Luis Guerrero’s hues are sunny and bright, once again a great fit with the book’s concept and style. All in all, the art on the book, while it’s not going to set the comics world on fire, never detracts from the book’s appeal, unlike sadly several other books DC is putting out – and it doesn’t even provide a narrower, indie-style audience, instead fitting completely comfortably into the DC house style and hitting base hit after base hit, nary a strike to be seen.
And Then Some…
The covers are the first things most readers see, whether in solicitations or on the shelves, so I want to spend a little time detailing what each of the covers in Flash #790 is, why you might want to get each cover, and which cover I think is best. Taurin Clark, who’s been providing the main covers for the last arc or so after Brandon Peterson finished up his run of main covers, paints the main covers for all six issues of One Minute War (not counting the Special). Clark’s style is very well composed, and tends to have really nice bright coloring, so this first cover, featuring Bart in the lead as Wally and Jay are carried by the explosion of the Fraction ship’s weapons, proves no exception. The highlight of seeing three generations of Flashes really plays into the Flash Family feeling of this event, and the Fraction ship, explosions, and hints of devastation in the top background highlight the War element. Clark’s one main weakness, a tendency towards muddy feeling figures/faces, don’t show up in this very action packed and full body long shot composition – playing well to his strengths.
Daniel Bayliss draws the cardstock variant B cover for a dollar more, showing Flash running through a lightning shaped clock white shape as roughly 1980s style military vehicles (tanks, choppers, and planes) mass behind him against an orange sky. Not quite as literal a representation of the interior contents, but a nice play on the One Minute War idea symbolically for sure. Bayliss is providing 4 of the 6 cardstock variants, but not always the cover B.
Ibrahim Moustafa’s cardstock variant C shows Flash in darkness, lit by the lightning on his chest, settling his boots up as he kneels in anticipation for running – a somewhat generic Flash image, but a very well executed one. Moustafa is only providing one cover for this arc. Main cover artist Clark also provides the 1 in 25 incentive variant, featuring an image similarly generic to Moustafa – and it could be said that what I’m calling “generic” other collectors might call “classic” – this one features Flash running towards the reader, the lightning symbol on his chest in the center of the frame – very dynamic and appealing. Lastly, to boost the sales/excitement for this arc, DC has provided an additional 1 in 50 foil incentive cover for all six issues of this series, using the main covers by Clark, but highlighted in cool reflective foil.
Though I really despair at DC’s reliance on incentive variants to boost sales artificially (it has nothing to do with people liking the content of the book and having loyalty and enjoyment of the story and characters, and everything to do with forced scarcity and speculation for later resale), it is nice that they’re trying to put a premium on this title, one of their most consistently enjoyable books on the shelves every month – and now, twice a month (and three times in January!) Collector’s note – if you want all of your covers to match, with nicely designed trade dress featuring the “Part” of the story and a four-digit time clock imitation, the main covers are the way to go.
The Daniel Bayliss covers are quite fun and clever, if you want a series that lasts most of this arc, though not all of it – and Bayliss’s style does have some similarities to variant artist George Kambadais, who’s been providing variants for a few months now, and does one for issue #764, as well as an interior section of the One Minute War Special this month. The other two unique art covers are pretty generic or classic Flash images, depending on your perspective, and either would be a nice addition to a collection, though not really representative of the comic itself and don’t have a strong serial collecting set component.
All in all, One Minute War is off to a fantastic start with Flash #790, and I can’t wait to read the next issue! This gets my strong recommendation to add it to your collection!