Flash: Emergency Stop

By Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Paul Ryan & John Nyberg, (DC Comics)
ISBN13: 978-1-84856-148-9

Here’s a good old fashioned Fights and Tights romp given a bit of post-modern gloss as Caledonian wizards Morrison and Millar turn their considerable talents to the third incarnation of the Fastest Man Alive. Reprinting issues #130-135 of the monthly comic, we find Wally West living with his one true love Linda Park, whilst enjoying a celebrity life as the Scarlet Speedster.

The eponymous lead tale begins when a disembodied uniform attacks old villains, absorbing their powers – and eventually their lives – as it undertakes a sinister master-plan. Whether ghost, pre-programmed super-technology or something else, The Suit proves more than a match for Keystone’s peace officers and even her superhuman guardians. Max Mercury, Jay Garrick (the original Flash) and Impulse are not enough to save West from crippling injuries, and it takes a quantum leap in his abilities before Wally can save everybody from certain death…

Following this superb thriller the lads get a chance to show American writers how it’s pronounced as Scottish villain Mirror Master attacks the recuperating hero and his lady in ‘Flash Through the Looking Glass’. As ever the understated excellence of Ryan and Nyberg act as the perfect vehicle for all those high speed thrills, never better than when Jay Garrick takes centre-stage for the moving ‘Still-Life in the Fast Lane’, a poignant parable that shows how even the swiftest men can’t outrun old age and death…

The volume ends on what could have been a desperately annoying note, but is rescued by the sheer writing skill of the scripters. ‘Death at the Top of the World’ is the third and final part of a company crossover that began in Green Lantern #96 and continued in Green Arrow #130, dealing with the assault on an Arctic cruise ship by super-villains Sonar, Heat Wave and Hatchet, and culminating in an attack by the world-class menace Dr. Polaris.

At any other time I would trenchantly bemoan the inconsiderate planning that deemed truncating such an extended tale, but here the concluding part, played as a classic courtroom drama, really does work as a stand-alone story (though who knows how the equivalent GL or GA trade paperbacks would work?) and tops off this thoroughly readable tome in fine style.

Be warned though: the last two pages are a prologue/cliffhanger for the next collection: At least I can be Mister Grumpy about that…

© 1997, 1998, 2008 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

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