Flash — The Fastest Man Alive: Lightning in a Bottle

Lightning in a Bottle
Lightning in a Bottle

By Danny Bilson, Paul DeMeo, Ken Lashley & various (DC Comics)
ISBN13: 978-1-4012-1229-2

In the slow build up to Final Crisis and by way of all those other “end-of-everything” multi-part mega-sagas, the grandson of the Silver Age Flash finally acceded to the mantle. Bart Allen had been introduced as the impetuous boy hero Impulse and had matured through a career as the second Kid Flash to finally become the third hero to wear the costume after the death of Barry Allen and the mysterious disappearance of Wally West. If you’re counting or caring he’s technically the fourth Flash since Jay Garrick was the first heroic speedster to use the name, albeit in a different outfit.

As this slim book (collecting issues #1-6 of the monthly comic-book) begins, Bart Allen is making a life for himself as an ordinary mortal. It’s One Year Later and the world has acclimatised to the aftermath of the Infinite Crisis. Jay Garrick is once again the hyper-speed guardian of the twin cities of Keystone and Central and Bart is a young blue-collar worker, stripped of his connection to the extra-dimensional Speed Force which enables super-fast metahumans to achieve Sub-Light velocities.

But when a disgruntled worker bombs the factory, that connection is explosively re-established. Unfortunately Bart’s best friend Griffin Gray is caught in the blast, and in tried and true comics tradition gets superpowers in the process. When Griffin decides to become a costumed crime-fighter, however, his tactics and motivations leave a lot be desired…

As troubled Bart reluctantly becomes a hero once more, he realises he will never be fast enough to outrun his responsibilities – or destiny. And in the wings a new love and old foe are both waiting for the perfect moment…

Slick and effective, this take on the Fastest Man Alive is very palatable, if a little insubstantial. Writers Bilson and DeMeo have a light touch, and the assembled artistic hordes of Ken Lashley, KWL Studio, Norm Rapmund, Marlo Alquiza, Jay Leisten, Walden Wong, Art Thibert, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe, Sal Velluto, Ron Adrian, Alex Lei, Rob Lea and Andy Smith are surprisingly effective. As reboots go this version could have gone far… (and isn’t that a foreboding note to end on?)

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