The Flash Omnibus by Geoff Johns: Vol. 1

Geoff Johns really knows how to write a comic.

What’s more, he knows how to write entertaining, engaging story arcs while still keeping them contained to 4-5 issues in length.  He doesn’t need to create a massive year-long epic to craft a well-thought out story.  So many other comics I’ve read will use “filler” issues, leading from one story arc to the next with little to no actual substance. They’re a fun one-off but don’t really add too much to the overall character story.

Not Johns though. His issues flow into one another yet have numerous jumping-on points for new readers, making his the beginning to his run on The Flash eminently readable.

Can you tell I really liked this comic?

Collecting the first portion of Johns’s rather lengthy run on The Flash, there is simply way too much that could be discussed for me to even attempt to summarize everything that happens.  I read so many other comics blogs where writers can go on and on about a single issue, and here I am trying to summarize 10 or more individual issues in one post. It’s damn hard to do, let me tell you.

That being said, if I attempted to write about each issue I’ve been reading, we’d be here forever.

Let’s just focus on a few major bullet points from this trade instead.

  • At some point apparently Wally and Linda got married. A little bummed I missed that issue, but I’ll live.
  • The Rogues play a huge role in Johns’s stories.  At least one of them pops up in just about every issue, with numerous references to them joining forces.
  • Wally has to begrudgingly work with Mirror Master and Captain Cold to stop an even more dangerous foe and return to their home world after being launched into a mirror universe.  I sort of love that he accepts their help but grumbles about them the entire time.
  • Wally’s story progresses while still making numerous references to past events in continuity.  That makes for a happy Jess.

I love the main storylines presented here, but even more exciting are the details.  There are so many asides and little inclusions that add to the sense of drama.

One of the biggest plot points in the story revolved around Julie, one of Wally’s ex-girlfriends, a police officer who was recently murdered and who left behind a baby boy.  The child’s parentage inevitably came into question.

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Small references were made throughout the story suggesting that the boy was Wally’s son, and the reveal to him was handled realistically and with enough weight to give the possibility substance.

Truth be told I really didn’t want Wally to be the father (it felt like an unnecessary wrench to toss into Wally and Linda’s happy lives at this point) so I was pleased to see that it was all a misdirection, with the boy’s real father being revealed as none other than the Weather Wizard.

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Of course, being a wanted super-villain doesn’t exactly make you excellent parent material, so the boy is set to be adopted by his late mother’s former partner.  Had a less-skilled writer included a side-story such as this, it could easily have felt contrived and obnoxiously overdone.  Johns included it with the perfect amount of detail, while still allowing for plenty of action to swirl around the discussion of what would become of this baby.

Johns’s details are wonderfully written, and help create a truly complete Flash universe.  We’re met with the introduction of new supporting characters who all have personalities of their own.  My favorite thus far is Detective Morillo, a young cop who somehow ends up with metahuman healing abilities and has the most lackluster response ever.

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Again, this inclusion isn’t necessary to the bigger plot at hand, but it helps create characters that the reader actually cares about, and gives more credibility to the world Johns is creating.  Besides, you need strong supporting characters to help round out the comic, especially ones who are going to be of some help to the hero. There needs to be a shake-up in the storyline every once in a while, instead of just seeing Flash fighting the same Rogues over and over.

Johns’s villains are believable and scary, while also at times being almost pitiable, such as when one such convict, named Fallout,  is being used to power the prison that houses him.

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It takes a lot to include details like this without slowing down the overall pace of the comic, and Johns pulls this off perfectly.

I really can’t say enough for these stories.  From what I can tell by peeking ahead on “the shelf” I have at least two more trades collecting Johns’s run on The Flash.  The books are somewhat massive in comparison to others around them, and I always get a little leery when a book is many hundreds of pages.  What if I don’t really like it? Will I really have to slog my way through 400+ pages of comics just for the sake of having read it?

Luckily, that fear is completely gone as far as these books are concerned.  I’m actually excited to get to the continuation of this collection just to see what Johns will do with the characters.

If you haven’t already read this, I highly recommend it.  The stories are fast-paced and interesting, and not one issue feels like filler.  Johns’s run on The Flash is pretty legendary, and based on having read these first handful of issues, I can easily see why.

-Jess

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