REVIEW: DC’s The Flash #782

In the normally dour DC Comics universe, one hero stands to bring thrills, spills, and quips aplenty -- and at light speed. The Flash is generally a lighthearted series, which is its charm, especially in contrast to more serious titles and runs currently among the DC Comics canon. Written by Jeremy Adams, with art by Fernando Pasarin and Matt Ryan, colors by Jeromy Cox and Peter Pantazis, and letters by Rob Leigh, The Flash #782 presents Wally West at peak cool/uncool uncle.

In The Flash #782, the title character leads his sarcastic, deadpan nephew and fellow speedster, Kid Flash Wallace "Ace" West in battle. Two Flashes (and Wallace Wests) are better than one as they subdue (and magnetize) one of their rogues, Girder, freshly escaped prison. They return him to prison to receive plenty of praise from warden Gregory Wolfe, but all is not well in the state of Iron Heights prison. Smelling a coverup and a grade-A conspiracy, Uncle Wally leads the way to a prison break of epic proportions and discovers a plot that could affect all of Keystone City. Meanwhile, back at the West-Park home, Wally's wife Julia is busy being a stand-up mother and keeping her burgeoning new superpowers under wraps.

The Flash #782 exemplifies the jovial nature of the hero through the dialogue. Wally and Ace play the classic straight man and wise guy dynamic well, with Wally's motor-mouthed goofiness contrasting nicely with Ace's well-placed and laconic snarking. It's unapologetically silly, cheesy, and dorky and makes for a fun read. The humor goes beyond the presence of the Flashes. Wally's wife and children have their moments as well. Julia especially gets a chance to show off her signature wit, though it's subdued at times by her own nervousness regarding her powers and her secretiveness around Wally.

The prison break scene and its lead-up, alongside the beginning fight scene with Girder, are great examples of the powers of both Flashes. Most interesting is their use of friction to make Girder's iron body magnetic. Potentially the most game-changing event is the introduction of the stealth suits. These plot devices would otherwise make Flash and Kid Flash, who already border on overpowered at times thanks to their ability to evade cameras, move faster than the eye can detect, and vibrate their own molecules through walls and surfaces, making them unstoppable and invulnerable. However, writer Jeremy Adams instead makes the suits flawed, which comes in handy for starting a prison chase scene.

The Flash #782 may not be a super serious issue, but it has its moments of genuine gravity, intrigue, creepiness, and peril. The Flash and Kid Flash are both heroes with a sense of humor, and for all their joking around, they take their missions and enemies seriously. The collusion between Warden Wolfe and the prisoners, mainly the Flash's rogues gallery, and the implication of his involvement in releasing and bribing criminals for his law and order mayoral campaign is juicy stuff. It's serious enough to pose a threat to the two Flashes, especially the reveal of Girder's apparent punishment for his behavior. The side plot involving Juila's powers is also good, though the tension at times is lost or at least dropped too early for the dramatic irony to build. Her interrupted reveal to Wally makes for a good cliffhanger, especially since Ace seems to be the one who will be made privy first, but the necessity of the secrecy isn't well explored here -- a lost opportunity.

The art in The Flash #782, courtesy of Pasarin and Ryan, is bold, slick, and bursting with kinetic energy, perfectly capturing the tone of the series and the characters' powers. There are few stray lines, giving the issue a very clean and almost childlike look, despite the many slightly realistic details throughout, such as the textures of hair and machinery. The composition of the pages, especially during the opening fight scene, is noteworthy -- just chaotic enough to suggest movement but carefully mapped out. The colors are similarly clean, bright, and cheerful, using cool blues for the prison instead of leeching away saturation.

With the right balance of seriousness and levity, wit and unease, The Flash #782 introduces a whole new threat and potential new power for both Flashes and, potentially, Julia to explore.

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