Future State: The Flash #1 review – a disappointingly familiar speedster story death in the family

January 6, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Comics
2

Summary

Future State: The Flash #1 doesn’t exactly feel of a piece with DC’s other new offerings, and the easy crutch of killing off characters is used to a desperate-feeling effect.

2

Summary

Future State: The Flash #1 doesn’t exactly feel of a piece with DC’s other new offerings, and the easy crutch of killing off characters is used to a desperate-feeling effect.

For DC, Future State is supposed to represent a new – albeit temporary – era of possibility and change, a free-for-all of storytelling potential untethered from the current continuity. That’s why Future State: The Flash #1 feels like such a disappointment compared to something like Wonder Woman #1 – it’s a familiar-feeling speedster story that relies on the crutch of killing off major characters to feel “new”. But without the time or space to make the deaths resonate, and a bit too much going on to get readers up to speed with the new storyline, the overall effect is of having been dropped right in the middle of a story that’s close to its end, rather than just gearing up.

Written by Brandon Vietti, with art from Dale Eaglesham and colors by Mike Atiyeh, the issue finds the Flash family on the hunt for Wally West, corrupted by a mysterious consuming force known as the Famine and fresh from all manner of atrocities, including attacking the Teen Titans a few years prior. Driven to desperation by the loss of Wally and his continuing acts of hyper-fast terror, the rest of the Flash family have taken to putting science to the task of finding and restoring him.

In a first-few-panel encounter with the Thinker after breaking into Checkmate, Impulse is killed while escaping with some thinking caps, which Barry re-engineers to allow the four remaining speedsters to use their combined knowledge and willpower to conference call into Wally’s Speed Force frequency, allowing them to commune with him. But the Famine quickly takes control and is able to drain the psychic apparitions of the speedsters of their power. When Iris arrives to yank the thinking caps from their heads, thus saving them, the speedsters discover that Jay’s heart gave out as a result of the experience. This is too much guilt for Barry to handle, and at the end of the issue he resolves to use the weaponry of his rogue’s gallery to kill Wally, who he has determined is beyond saving at this point.

It’s hard to overlook all the deaths in this book, even if none of them land with any real impact. In functional story terms, the objective is obviously to show how dangerous Wally and the Famine are, but killing off characters – and implying the killing of more in the past – is a pretty cheap way of doing it. Here, it feels like Future State: The Flash #1 is banking on this continuity having no repercussions to simply raise stakes artificially and corrupt, in the form of Barry, one of DC’s longstanding do-gooder heroes. But beyond that trigger-happy willingness to do away with the speedsters, there’s little in the actual trappings of the tale that feel new or improved for taking place in Future State.

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