The Vanier Report: Week 23
At the climax of Flashpoint in 2011, Professor Zoom died, stabbed through the chest with a sword by Thomas Wayne, the Flashpoint Batman. Since that moment, all throughout the rebooted continuity of the post-Flashpoint era, we have yet to see Eobard Thawne. In fact, readers of Flash were given an all new Reverse-Flash in the form of Daniel West. But the 25th-Century archenemy of Barry Allen finally made his return this week in Flash #41.
Robert Venditti and Van Jensen set the stage for this return at the end of their “Future Flash” arc, when Professor Zoom appeared within the Speed Force to recruit members for his Flash kill squad. In Flash #41, he engages the Flash for the first time, just as Barry begins to investigate the new lead in his mother’s murder.
This issue should be more exciting than it is. But unfortunately Venditti and Jensen’s script falls flat, wasting valuable pages of the book repeating the exact same scene – in which Professor Zoom first comes face to face with the Flash – over again. And while Flash stories often involve time travel (as is certainly the case with Professor Zoom), in the context of this story repeating the scene adds nothing to the narrative. We only tenuously see the scene from a different perspective the second time around, but it doesn’t add anything substantial to the experience.
I do, however, love the first version of the scene, where Professor Zoom speeds between the Flash and an armoured assailant, monologuing about his hatred for Barry in between nanoseconds of the fight, disappearing before Flash can even recognize that he has been there. Andrew Dalhousie’s colours do a wonderful job of illustrating Thawne’s terrifying speed; as time slows down for Professor Zoom, the colour fades from the world which both indicates how dull it must be to move so quickly in a world that moves so slowly, but also demonstrates that Zoom is exponentially faster than the Flash. He is a real threat, able to kill Flash whenever he pleases. Flash is living on borrowed time from that moment on, which is why it is disappointing to have to move backwards in time and watch the scene unfold again.
The subplot of the issue involves Henry Allen who, upon hearing Barry mention the name Thawne, immediately demands that Barry drop the case and plots with fellow Iron Heights inmates to break out and take on Professor Zoom themselves. This is an incredible twist, with Venditti and Jensen perhaps banking on recent TV memories of Henry Allen to throw us off the scent. Here, Henry knows who Thawne is, he knows what he has done, and he knows the danger into which Barry is unknowingly running.
But despite those two particularly strong elements, in general the issue feels poorly paced. By the time we repeat the same opening scene from Barry’s perspective, the issue runs out of pages when it barely feels like it started. Between Thawne, his team of assassins, Barry’s investigation, and Henry’s jailbreak, there are a lot of moving parts in this arc, but Flash #41 does little more than glimpse at all these different angles. Nothing feels concrete, yet, leaving the issue feeling stuck, as if it’s merely a placeholder until Flash Annual #4, which may actually be the case.
It was a brief introduction, but Venditti and Jensen have got my attention, if nothing else. Eobard Thawne is a major iconic Flash villain and I hope to see much more depth into his relationship to both Barry and Henry as the arc continues. The irony of Professor Zoom’s return to comics is how clearly it has gotten off on the wrong foot.
Feature Written By: Reid Vanier
“Reid is a comic book fan masquerading as a theatre artist. His love of comics (specifically DC) was inherited by his father’s collections of Flash, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Justice League of America. Reid is now the Editor and Lead Writer of Modern Mythologies.”