The concept of The Flash is a criminally underrated one. I think that the concept of a speedster is so simple that people underestimate their powers and don't really think about what being able to move that fast means. If you are one of these people, you need to read The Flash #2. This issue doesn't spend a lot of time explaining the speed force(thought we do learn a little), or feature big, epic fight scenes (though there is some nice action). What it does do is demonstrate how awesome The Flash can be in simple, subtle ways. Manapul has always been great at showcasing speed, but here, he does something a little different and lets the reader see the way The Flash can see the world when he's standing still. The look of pure joy on Barry's face when he puts everything together in his head and realizes what he can do is wonderful, and I was smiling right along with him.
This issue also continues the story of many Manuels. There's nothing wrong with this plot, and if it was in another comic, I might've been really involved in it, but right now, I think it's getting overshadowed by the sheer visual spectacle of this comic. When I reached the very cool cliffhanger ending, my first thought wasn't about what people are trying to keep Barry from finding, but about how great the panel looked. The story in Flash is a perfectly good one, but I think it's always going to be overpowered by the impressiveness of the book's art. Batwoman managed to get to a place where the storyline does as much to draw readers in as its jawdropping art does, and over time, I hope The Flash will get there too.
The characters, however, are something I'm really invested in. I want to see how the charismatic Manuel Barry knew in his youth wound up the way he did. I want to see Barry keep experimenting with his powers Love triangles frequently annoy me, but I'm actually really enjoying the one here. I think that's largely because both Iris and Patty are likable and have good chemistry with Barry, and there are no silly misunderstandings or people getting screwed over. Normally, I dislike undoing relationships, but it really weeks for me here. I don't think Barry and Iris ever had much of a courtship in comics, and they were married back in the 60's. With Barry dead for decades, modern readers haven't gotten to see much of the two of them together, and I didn't particularly care about the couple when Barry came back. I'm pretty certain that a Barry/Iris pairing is still the endgame, and I'm glad I now have a chance to enjoy the build-up.
There were a few lines from Barry that felt overly explanatory, but the back and forth between characters is another one of the issue's strong points. The dialogue feels natural, but there's also an interesting sort of rhythm to it that makes it very readable. I like these characters enough that I occasionally wish we'd heard a little more from them, but at the same time, I appreciate that Manapul and Buccellato held back a little and sometimes just let the panels speak for themselves. No one here talks just for the sake of talking, and I admire the restraint of any writing team that can resist going for goofy jokes when they have a superhero standing in the mud alongside pigs.
Somehow, Manapul's art is even more beautiful than it was the month before. The visual storyline here is practically peerless, and I don't think there's ever been a better feature for Manapul's style than the little boxes he uses to illustrate "Flash sigh" to readers. I keep picking up the book and looking at the pages over and over- there's way too much to appreciate here to read this comic only once. Manapul's watercolor heavy technique is really unusual, and it's a testament to Brian Buccellato's talent that his colors work with it so well. Manapul's uncolored pages are gorgeous, and I think it takes some real skill to alter them without taking away from any of their beauty. The two of them are a brilliant team in every respect, and I hope they keep on working together for a long time.
I've seen a lot of lamenting about the lack of titles to give younger readers, so I really want to take the time to suggest this book to anyone who's trying to find a good comic to give a kid. The Flash is a light, fun title that should be appropriate for kids old enough to have outgrown Tiny Titans. One of the most important things a story can do is encourage children to use their own imaginations, and I think The Flash does that in spades. I'm pretty far removed from my own childhood, and as I put down this book I couldn't stop trying to picture the world the way The Flash does. It's a great introduction to one of DC's greatest superheroes, and giving it to kids while they're young will assure the next generation never doubts the awesomeness of a speedster.