By: Sterling Gates (writer), Oliver Nome (penciller), Trevor Scott (inker), Brian Buccellato (colorist)

The Story: You ever get the feeling you just don’t belong to this world…and era…and reality?

The Review: Dealing with an altered reality and all the taken-for-granted conventions it entails (subtle or not) can get pretty mind-boggling to begin with.  And by now we all know anything to do with time-traveling comes packaged with paradoxes and quantum leaps and all sorts of other nonsense guaranteed to give you a considerable headache.  Now, mix the two together and you’ve got a whopper of a migraine just waiting to happen.

And so it is with Kid Flash, a character out of time to begin with, and now skipping along the time stream in a strange universe.  But you can shelve your aspirin for now; Gates sticks the issue to mostly one setting: the Flashpoint world of 3011, conquest of Brainiac.  His eternal quest for knowledge apparently involved watching The Matrix, as everywhere is covered with techno-organic structures bearing humans trapped in glassy cocoons (head attachments included).

Bart actually makes a veiled reference to the film when he finds himself trapped, Speed Force-less, in this dystopia, which thankfully saves the plot from looking like one giant cliché (not to mention unashamed plagiarism).  In fact, his casual use of pop culture for problem-solving is a kind of relic of his Impulse days, and tempered with the good sense and focus he’s gained as Kid Flash, Gates offers the most balanced portrayal of Bart we’ve gotten in a while (especially compared to emo Bart in the last few issues of Geoff Johns’ The Flash).

Plot-wise, we still have a lot of questions left up in the air: how Bart got dragged into the time stream in the first place, how Brainiac managed to “fish” him out, and what role he’ll have in the grand scheme of Flashpoint.  Gates gives some hints as to how all these issues will tie together when Brainiac claims he’ll “find a way to pull the chronal energy from your cells…”  It wouldn’t be surprising if this winds up playing an integral part of solving the whole Flashpoint mess, continuing DC’s tradition of giving young heroes central roles in these “crisis” stories.

Less impressive is the way Patty Spivot (futile love interest to Barry Allen) gets dragged into this story.  She explains her decision to take up Hot Pursuit’s outfit and equipment as, “…I decided to do something bigger with my life”, which sounds thoroughly unconvincing considering this is a woman who resisted getting involved with forensics again, even at Barry’s pleading request, because the pace of the work got too much for her.  It’s safe to assume the only reason Gates has her around is to give Bart a convenient way to escape the crazy world he’s wound up in.

Nome offers a rounded, curvaceous style that makes for some plain, unappealing faces.  The limitations of their features give them all the same, perpetually blank expression, making the most dramatic lines sound lifeless (“Oh, my God.”).  On the other hand, Nome draws some convincing superspeed, making you look forward to when Bart gets his powers back.  Buccellato offers unremarkable coloring, though it’s worth noting that since he chooses to give all the human-cocoons a pinkish cast, The Matrix parallels are even more apparent.

Conclusion: It’s a pity Gates hasn’t gotten to write a Kid Flash ongoing as he wanted, because in spite of writing the character well, there’s not all that much going on where the plot is concerned.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – We don’t know too much about how the Teen Titans spend their free time together, but we can safely assume a lot of it includes watching some fairly terrible movies.