Sometimes, you run across a story decision that is simply a misfire. The premise or execution is simply so totally wrongheaded or mishandled that it is easy to deal with by simply pointing out its complete impropriety and shoving it to the side. Other times, you find a story element so completely right, so completely fitting, that you can only smile with joy. That is actually harder to convey in a review, as smiles simply don’t translate well through a keyboard, even with the use of emoticons.
The most complicated situation of all, however, is that which arises in Convergence: Speed Force #2, where the totally fitting and the totally jarring come together in the heart of the same story. When one thinks of Wally West and his long history first as Kid Flash then as the Flash, several qualities come to mind. But perhaps foremost among these are his happiness and his capacity for love, especially love of his family and friends.
Tony Bedard certainly captures the first, using the physical metaphor of Wally’s literal linkage with his children, Iris and Jai, through the mechanism of the Speed Force, as the tool to explore the theme. But the problem is that being linked to a man like Wally is dangerous. It was this relationship that got the children trapped under the dome to start with, and this relationship that gets them into danger now as Wally must face the Amazons of the Flashpoint timeline.
Bedard uses the danger to his children as an occasion for Wally to reflect on angst-ridden questions of pain and responsibility. This is appropriate, but the problem is that Wally West is not a person on whom angst properly sits, at least not for extended periods. Bedard has to strike a careful balance here. He rightly understands that a failure to address this issue would damage the believability of Wally and his relationships, but he perhaps goes too far. The most pain-soaked confession is wrung from the Flash by the Lasso of Truth, so the in-story elements do cohere logically. But the balance remains off, even though Wally’s link with his children, predictably, provides his salvation at the end.
In fact, the greater balance of the entire book is off, as it is essentially just one extended fight, a situation that seems common to many of the books featured in the Convergence event this month. The fight is well-coordinated and presented, but not especially suspenseful or exhilarating. Tom Grummett’s figures are somewhat elongated, combining with Sean Parsons smooth lines and graceful curves to suggest fluid, swift movement. Rain Beredd’s colors are less successful, being subdued rather than the bright hues that both the personalities and the situation requires.
Perhaps a speedster is not meant to be a creature of balance. And Wally West was never known as a creature of calm and serenity. But neither was he a figure of angst and stress, and here the story goes slightly wrong. It is not a fatal misstep, but it is compounded by dominance of the extended battle throughout most of the story. As strange as it might be for a Flash story, what this plot needs is to slow down and breathe.