Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Life on the Line
Credits: Len Strazewski (writer), Mike Parobeck (penciler), Mike Machlan (inker), Bob Pinaha (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary: The modern-day Flash attempts to rescue Wildcat, Atom, and Dr. Midnight, but finds himself a captive of the Ultra-Humanite as well. Dr. Midnight uses one of his devices to free his teammates while Ultra-Humanite is preoccupied by Flash, then rescues Flash from the Ultra-Humanite’s genetically modified trap. Meanwhile, Johnny Quick sends information to his daughter on Ultra-Humanite’s connection to Ultragen. She contacts the JSA and travels with them to rescue the heroes.

Irrelevant Continuity: Ultra-Humanite is now in a genetically modified body of his own creation. After burning out of his ape form, he possessed a number of humans and founded Ultragen as a front for his genetic research. The first issue’s villains, the New Order, were test subjects that turned on Ultra-Humanite.

Total N00B: The current Flash wishes he could vibrate through walls like he used to do with his predecessor (Barry Allen). He wonders if the original Flash can show him how to do it. Why exactly has he forgotten?

Review: Okay, I’m not sure how the ‘90s Flash got involved with this, but Parobeck certainly draws a nice rendition of Wally West. Strazewski moves the story along by revealing the origin of Ultra-Humanite’s new body (but not his stutter), and his connection to Ultragen. This brings us to another wild coincidence: the X-parody characters from the first issue also have connections to Ultra-Humanite/Ultragen. By a colossal twist of fate, Flash and Green Lantern just happened to be watching TV in a diner when a news report of their terrorist attack on a nuclear plant aired. So, virtually every event in the series so far goes back to Ultra-Humanite’s plot, even though the JSA have kept stumbling on to his schemes through sheer luck. I personally find these plot conveniences grating, but I guess it’s something the reader has to accept by this point.

Ignoring the master plot, we do have numerous action sequences that are masterfully handled by Parobeck, so there’s still plenty to enjoy. Parobeck’s also drawing a few more of the modern DC characters this issue, allowing his Byrne influence to become more noticeable. This might sound like an odd match for his style, but he makes it work.


Anonymous said...

Wally West Flash lost the ability to vibrate through solid objects after the Crisis. He was hit by an energy blast that also lowered his top speed but altered his body chemistry, curing certain health problems tied into his superspeed. He later regained the power to vibrate through objects, but any object he passed through would explode.

Chris K said...

When Wally West became the Flash at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths he was depowered to "mere" supersonic speed, down from the speed-of-light that he and Barry Allen had always had. This also stripped away most of the traditional super-speed tricks associated with Flash. This was the status quo for the first several years of Wally's book until Mark Waid repowered him in the Return of Barry Allen arc (not long after this JSA issue, I believe...)

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