The Flash #74 // Review
The Flash #74, written by Joshua Williamson, with pencils and inks by Howard Porter, and colors by Hi-Fi, continues the Year One story, but could easily have been called “The Turtle: Year One”...and maybe it should have been? Previously, Barry Allen was struck by lightning and gained the amazing power of super speed. He almost immediately, and hilariously, accidentally ran into the future. Realizing that Central City had been taken over by a villain called “the Turtle.” Who has the ability to steal speed and momentum from anyone, or anything. Flash and his older, superhero-self barely survived a confrontation with him. Barry managed to escape back to the present and ended up having another run-in with the Turtle--this time, the present version. The Flash finally got a victory, sending the current Turtle to jail, only to have the future Turtle travel to the present with an army, and the older Barry in tow. Now, the rookie Flash must find a way to stop a villain that can negate his powers at will, and has already beaten the most experienced version of himself.
No one can say this isn’t a fun story. It is. Indisputably. The only problem is that it didn’t need to be disguised as an origin story for the Flash. That story has been told so many times. There’s not much new that Williamson can really add to it, except his angle of reintroducing the Turtle as an actual threat. Again, though, if the only thing new you’re adding to a retold story is a cool new take on an old, lame villain. Then just do the cool, new take on the old, lame villain. The time travel still could have been involved. The flashbacks to Barry’s first confrontation with the Turtle still could have been there. And everything great about this story would still be intact. Instead, the readers are being treated to half a great story that is bogged down by an attempted fresh take on Barry origin.
Now, for the praise that Williamson deserves. What he is doing with the Turtle makes for, not only, the greatest take on the character that’s ever existed. But one of the most entertaining, and fun Flash villains to come along in years. The Turtle has long been a joke among the Flash Rogues, because...well, with a name like “the Turtle,” who could take him seriously? Williamson, though, has breathed new life into him, springboarding off the connection to the Still Force that Snyder established in Justice League. While really playing up the fact that his power set is a natural Flash deterrent. Yes, Williamson has taken some unexplained liberties to up Turtle’s threat level. Like how can he use his energy stealing power to create Green Lantern-like constructs to blast Barry or knock down a building?). But hopefully, all will be explained by the end of the story.
As usual, Howard Porter brings his A-game to the art of this book. He’s a veteran of DC comics, making a name for himself on the now-classic Grant Morrison “JLA” run, so he’s no stranger to drawing the Flash. Add to his art the always-quality colors of Hi-Fi, and you have a match made in heaven. This team is welcome in the art department for The Flash, any time.
Overall, this story’s conception is flawed because the fans weren’t clamoring for an update on Barry Allen’s origin. But the added bonus of Williamson reinventing the Turtle makes it more than worth a read. Hopefully, the newly-revamped villain will be carried forward to future stories in this book. It would be an awful waste to throw him away after Year One. Especially as he seems to tie into the four Forces Williamson has been building up lately.