WELCOME TO THE FUTURE! At some point in the not-too-distant future, a malevolent presence within the Speed Force has corrupted Wally West! The rest of the Flash Family wants to help, but what can they do with their own connections to the Speed Force severed?
Future State is here, but reading Future State – The Flash #1, you’d be hard-pressed to know it’s anything other than the present. The characters involved are all the same age as they would be in any other modern comic; there’s nothing particularly futuristic about the world they’re inhabiting. So, why is “Death Race” considered part of Future State…? This is but the tip of the iceberg of questions readers will undoubtedly be pondering while reading this comic.
The story, beginning in medias res, starts with Barry Allen, Jay Garrick, Max Mercury, Impulse, and Avery Ho as they break into Checkmate – using Rogues’ weapons instead of super-speed – to liberate the Thinker’s thinking hat. Through a series of clunky expositional dialogue exchanges (used to make up for the fact that readers are getting dropped into the middle of the story with no context), readers learn that Wally West has been corrupted by some evil entity in the Speed Force, which has caused him to go on a killing spree and steal everyone else’s speed (hence the use of the Rogues’ weaponry). Barry firmly believes that Wally is still trapped somewhere within his own mind, and that he can be freed.
There’s a lot that could be picked apart about this comic, but the bottom line is that the story just doesn’t work all that well. DC has been kicking Wally while he’s down ever since the abysmal Heroes in Crisis, and that precedent seems to be continuing here. Considering he was on the cusp of a fresh start thanks to the events of Death Metal, seeing him so quickly reverted back to being a punching bag isn’t just disheartening, but smacks of a lack of ideas regarding what to do with Wally.
Author Brandon Vietti – a veteran writer and producer of superhero animation, including The Batman and Young Justice – clearly has a passion for Flash lore and continuity and all the wonderful supporting cast such as Max Mercury or Avery or Impulse. But instead of leaning into that love, he’s instead crafted a story that has a lot of parts that simply don’t add up to a whole. When the eventual revelation comes as to what turned Wally evil, it’s so out of left field that readers will be scratching their heads out of confusion, because there’s zero context for it. But even if there was, it’s hard to feel invested in what’s going on because there isn’t enough being done to engage readers beyond the surface conflicts, which could be boiled down to, “Wally has done bad things but he can still be saved!” This information could have been conveyed in 1-2 pages, and then the rest of the comic could have been used to explore the world and its inhabitants in deeper ways than, “Isn’t it crazy how the Flash Family is using Rogue weapons?!” superficiality.
Thank goodness Dale Eaglesham draws the living hell out of this comic, because that saves it from being a total wash. He brings his trademark “soft edge” pencils to every page, using dynamic and creative layouts to make every sequence pop with originality. Eaglesham inks his own work; Mike Atiyeh does a wonderful job coloring to provide an out-and-out gorgeous comic. Brandon Peterson’s cover is equally eye-grabbing, too! Veteran Flash letterer Steve Wands brings his usual level of skill to the fore, making sure that readers can effectively read the flow of dialogue, and that his balloons enhance the entirety of the visual experience by working with the art instead of obscuring it. The entire art team is pure fire on Future State – The Flash #1. It’s a shame they didn’t get a story to match their skill.
Despite incredible art, Future State - The Flash #1 is a messy comic storywise. Overreliance on expositional dialogue and a lack of exploring the world it's set in leaves a comic readers will be struggling to remember. Additionally, for a comic that's supposed to be set in the future, there's nothing to actually make it feel as though it's anything other than the present.
Future State – The Flash #1: Fast Forward!
Writing - 4/104/10
Storyline - 4/104/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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