By: Scott Kolins (writer), Joel Gomez (artist), Brian Buccellato (colorist)
The Story: No, no, Reverse Flash—don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel.
The Review: After the shudder-inducing debut issue that was Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1, I had but one hope: to not have to read another Kolins-penned title for a good long time, at least until after he’d gotten to hone his writing chops some more. So much for wishful thinking. Before we’ve had enough time to recover comes yet another Flashpoint tie-in written by Kolins, right on the heels of the last.
Immediately red flags pop up from the opening pages. Kolins has a very direct, almost simple-minded approach to character work and writing in general, and it shows in the very title for this story: “My Revenge”, which suggests Hitler’s Mein Kampf, but without the sociopathic ingenuity. Reverse Flash is simply a disturbed sociopath, and Kolins makes no effort to portray him with any more depth than that.
Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Lisa does a science experiment proving her hamster learns faster than Bart? There’s a scene where he tries to touch an electrically-noded cupcake and repeatedly, even determinedly, shocks himself. Reverse Flash channels much the same attitude, trying again and again to exact pain on the Flash (often using the same tactic multiple times in a row) and consistently failing. It’s the most perversely fascinating example of AA’s definition of insanity.
Even more problematic with the sheer repetitiveness of all this is the fact that it’s also all redundant. Kolins essentially briefs you on the most significant Reverse Flash storylines ever written, but he does so with little to no craft. With the Flashpoint stamp all over the issue, you’d think Kolins would spend some time giving light to what Reverse Flash’s role in the overall plot will be, but you get none of that. A waste, to say the least.
For those of you curious as to what specifically makes Kolins’ writing so unpalatable, I can say with much confidence that his flair for melodrama seems to choke the pace and naturalness of everything he writes. But don’t take my word for it. This is a mere sample of how the entire issue goes: “Barry Allen, the destroyer. His narrow worldview…and his petty jealousy…took my future away. Locked in a cell. It was time I took the Flash’s future from him. It was time I killed my hero.” And so on. I think it’s best to leave it at that.
You can’t even feel a sense of relief from the fact Kolins gets put off art duties, because Gomez’s style is quite nearly as stilted and limited as the writer’s. About the only thing that recommends Gomez above Kolins is he gives some extra sharpness to the characters, making them look a little more distinct from the backgrounds. But you still find plenty of sloppy moments in the action, which make you feel the artistic efforts are halfhearted at best.
Conclusion: Almost the only redeeming point about this issue is that it’s a one-shot, not the first of a three-part series as the cover indicates. It’s also not the least worthy offering from Kolins; we already had that two weeks ago.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Speaking of the misnumbering on the cover, that’s a fairly large mistake on the part of DC’s editorial, don’t you think? Unless they had originally intended to make it a three-part, but realized after Citizen Cold #1 that another mini by Kolins was in fact not the best of ideas.