In which the Flash punches Adolph Hitler in the jaw. Really, what more do you need to know?
The Flash, and in a larger sense, DC Comics in general, will always have roots in the World War II era. Not only because that’s when Jay Garrick first debuted as the Fastest Man Alive, but National Comics itself was founded in the ’30s. Many, many of DC’s earliest stable of heroes debuted in that era, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, obviously; second-tier characters such as Hawkman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman, and more; and a whole heaping helping of characters who never quite made it to A-list status and would form the nucleus of the Justice Society of America.
Subsequent generations of writers and artists reinforced those World War II ties throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, codifying the idea that these heroes were inextricably linked to that particular time and era – and by extension, DC’s universe as a whole. And after all, why not? World War II is that rare moment in history where the battle lines between good and evil are very clearly drawn. It’s easy to mythologize, and any participant on the side of the Allies immediately gains a certain historic cache and becomes bigger than life. These soldiers fought against pure, undiluted evil, and came out on top. That’s like catnip for writers, and that’s why DC likes to keep going back to that era time and again.
So, naturally, it makes perfect – almost too obvious – sense for Wally West to bounce back to World War II and inhabit Jay Garrick’s body as he bops around the timestream at the mercy of the Speed Force. But, let me tell you – this is a bit of an odd WWII outing for a DC comic.
For one, none of Garrick’s typical JSA allies are present. Instead, writer Jeremy Adams chooses to pair Garrick up with the Ray (usually found alongside the Freedom Fighters). That means none of the familiar rhythms or camaraderie one might normally seen from WWII-set DC comics are present, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – just an unfamiliar one. The Flash and the Ray don’t really have much history together, so Ray’s inclusion feels extremely random, especially when there are so many other more noteworthy JSA characters Adams could have chosen from. Is the Ray, or possibly the Freedom Fighters, being primed for a comeback? Is his inclusion in this story a backdoor pilot for a new series later this year? Or does Adams really just like the Ray? The story itself doesn’t really offer any hints or answers to any of these questions.
Instead – and this is the second most odd thing in the issue – Adams uses the unusual Flash/Ray dyad to pivot into a theist versus atheist debate, with Flash in the former role and Ray in the latter. Garrick is presented as an extremely religious man, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – especially given the time in history the story is set, where mainstream religion was much of a given than it is now. But it’s a curious choice in that Jay has never really been portrayed as particularly religious or spiritual one way or another, so the choice to use him as a vehicle for this debate feels more like Adams had the idea for the story beat and wedged it onto the characters regardless of whether or not it made sense character-wise. As for the Ray being an atheist – I seriously doubt any thought has ever been given to his religious convictions, so him being an atheist really doesn’t come off as strange or questionable. Jay, though, has always been a man of science, so presenting him as a highly spiritual man, although not necessarily contradictory, seems like spurious and circumstantial characterization at best.
But, having said all that: this is still a pretty fun comic.
Jay Garrick’s appearances have been so sporadic over the last decade, that any chance to see him is to be relished. It definitely looks like DC is planning to re-establish the JSA as 2021 plays out, but it’s looked like that during Scott Snyder’s Justice League run and Doomsday Clock as well, and although fan service was certainly paid both times, nothing tangible or ongoing came from either. To say JSA fans are getting used to feeling disappointed by DC perpetually keeping the team on the backburner would be an understatement.
As for the rest – the plot is relatively straightforward, and involves Hitler getting his grubby hands on that hoary old JSA MacGuffin, the Spear of Destiny, and using it to – you guessed it – rule the world. It’s definitely not the first time this plot has been used, but Adams’ utilization here gives it a feeling of comfort food, not necessarily a lack of trying or ideas. There is something to be said about giving readers something that just makes them feel good, and not for nothing, there’s a whole generation of readers now who
are almost certainly maybe definitely might be experiencing a Spear of Destiny JSA story for the first time. (Kids! I love ya.)
The general plot of Flash #770 doesn’t exactly move the needle forward on “Blink of an Eye,” though. As a comic in and of itself, it stands well on its own merits, but as the third chapter off a longer story, comes across a bit like filler. Readers’ feelings on that will no doubt stem from their reception of this comic as either a work unto itself or as a chapter of a larger whole – from my humble perspective, one issue like this is fine, but multiple would become a problem.
The art on Flash continues to impress. It’s obvious that DC has put a vested interest in making sure there are no subpar-looking books in the Infinite Frontier era and Flash is no exception. Brandon Peterson continues to take the lead, bookending the story, with Jack Herbert filling out most of the rest. Their styles mesh extremely well, bolstered by Mike Atiyeh’s ever-impressive colors and Steve Wands’ journeyman lettering. As for Kevin Maguire – well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say next issue is gonna be super, friends. The Flash renaissance and the return of Wally West to the spotlight continues nimbly along. Don’t get left behind.
The Flash #770 makes a couple of odd story choices, but is still a very fun and satisfying read. Don't miss out on the return of Wally West to the spotlight!
Flash #770: Star-Spangled War Story
- Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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