by Geoff Johns (writer), Francis Manapul (art), Brian Buccellato (colors), and Sal Cipriano (letters)

The Story: Captain Boomerang makes a break for it after getting a mysterious upgrade; the Renegades continue their quest to apprehend the Flash.

What’s Good: Atmosphere and tone continue to be the strongest thing going for Johns’ new Flash ongoing.  This remains a warm, honest, and positive book that lives up to the current Brightest Day aesthetic more than any other book in DC’s line-up.  This month, part of this easy-going feel is evidenced by just how fast this issue flies by.  Normally this would be a bad thing for a comic, but for the Flash, it feels natural, appropriate, and a testament to its energy.

I’m also happy to see Johns’ building up of Captain Boomerang.  It’s clear that in Boomerang, Johns is crafting a real nemesis for Barry Allen.  Captain Boomerang comes across as a badass, especially in his willingness to go for the throat, even when outnumbered, injured, and without powers.  It’s a time-tested strategy for garnering respect for a villain:  have him beat down a group of despicable, faceless goons that are even bigger jackasses than he is.  I also liked Captain Boomerang’s power upgrade.  It’s a great way to bring Blackest Night’s legacy into the Flash, without it feeling jarring or unnatural in the series’ positive environment.

Barry and Iris’ relationship continues to be a highlight for me as well.  There’s a loving familiarity and joviality that’s imbued into every last of dialogue shared between them.  They actually feel like a happily married couple in that its clear that they know each other better than anybody.  Their conversations continue to be an absolute pleasure to read.

Manapul’s art continues to be lush and inviting.  I especially liked his work on Iris and Barry’s faces; their expressions make them instantly likable and really convey the intimacy of their relationship more than any dialogue could.  Under Manapul’s hand, Barry and Iris lovable characters.

What’s Not So Good: While this issue progresses the plot, but lacks the iconic moments that the last two issues carried.  Furthermore, I continue to find this plot with the renegades to be the least interesting asset this series has going for it and this issue focused on it more than anything else.  I’ve enjoyed Barry’s workplace politics and his relationship with Iris quite a bit more, and I got less of both this month.  The Renegades plot isn’t bad, it just lacks the vitality that the rest of the series lives by.

I think a good part of this is due to the Renegades themselves, who I’m pretty apathetic towards.  Johns just hasn’t given us a reason to care about them and, what with there being so many of them, it’s pretty much impossible for us to get to know them.  Beyond wearing outfits and having names similar to the Rogues, there’s really nothing connected us to these characters.  That alone is a bit of a drain on the book and my attachment to this plot.

I also felt that Brian Buccellato’s colors were a bit off this off month.  While they still retain that watercolour feel, they seemed a little muddier this month.  It’s almost as though Buccellato’s yellow-gold based palette had a bit too much brown in the mix.

Conclusion: A good issue, but not quite of the same level as last month’s issue.  Apparently even the fastest man alive can suffer from “middle-of-the-arc” syndrome.

Grade: B –

Alex Evans