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Best Reads of 2018

It’s that time of year again! Here we’ve compiled our list of the ten best books we’ve read in 2018, and their consequent reviews, in no particular order. Enjoy!

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DC Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash

Sorry for the delay from my usual Monday post, but I’ve been sick! And since this is a pretty hefty book, I needed to take some bed rest for the extra time required to finish it ;D

Barry Allen is finally on the road back to happiness. He wakes up the morning of his wedding to Fiona Webb, at last feeling like he can put the past behind him for good. However, just as he’s getting into his tux, one of the Guardians of Oa appears to him. His arch nemesis, the Reverse Flash, has escaped from the galactic prison that Barry sealed him in. Rage takes over Barry – the last time they dueled, it ended in the murder of Barry’s first wife, Iris West. Reverse Flash is determined to make history repeat itself by killing Fiona as well. Warning the Guardians to stay out of his fight, Barry takes off to stop the Reverse Flash, leaving his family, friends, and his bride-to-be at the altar.

At the end of their struggle, the Reverse Flash is dead. Fiona, hurt and humiliated from being left at the altar, and shocked at how close she came to death, suffers a mental breakdown. To the general public, Barry Allen is missing, but to those who know him best, he has gone into hiding in plain sight as the Flash. Barry himself is reeling from the events of that fateful day. Half of Central City maintains that the Reverse Flash’s death was an accident, but the other half paints the Flash as a murderer. Barry is not sure himself whether he meant to kill his rival or not. His fate rests in the hands of twelve jurors. Is the Flash a murderer? Should he be held accountable for his actions, just like any other man? Or do his heroic feats earn him a “get out of jail free” card?

This run was originally published over several years in the mid 1980’s, and the writing reflects the best of both the Silver Age and the more modern storylines. There is great time spent on Barry’s inner struggle, and the struggle of the public at large, to reconcile the heroic ideal and the very human tendency to protect those we love at any cost. But, there are also wacky subplots and moments that only older comics can provide. The thing I love best about older comics like these is, they don’t take themselves too seriously, even though the subject matter may hardly be a laughing matter.

There is much more to the story than the bare bones I have laid above, with many subplots featuring Flash’s rogues gallery, his lawyer, and the Justice League, that all fit together magnificently in the end, in ways you wouldn’t expect. After finishing it, I am simply awestruck at the creative energy that went into a story several years in the making. This is easily up for my best 2018 reads list.

My only nitpick with this volume was, while the art was great, the DC Showcase volume it’s contained in only printed it in black and white. I was disappointed at first, but got used to it as I read. It did become hard to distinguish some characters from one another, especially the Rogues Gallery who, apart from Captain Cold (with his signature fluffy hood), seem to all be wearing the same thing. I’m sure their costumes are colored differently from one another, but it was all lost here.

I haven’t read much Flash, but this is obviously a definitive story for the character. Enough backstory is explained to where I would give it to a new Flash fan; there are also enough recognizable characters to a fan of the show who hasn’t yet started the comics. For those who may be daunted by the length – don’t be. Devouring this one in bite-sized chunks over several days made me forget I was sick for a little while 😉

– Kathleen

Bates, Cary, Carmine Infantino, et al. DC Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash. 2011.

The Flash (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Lightning Strikes Twice

Barry Allen became the Flash when he was struck by lightning and gained access to the Speedforce. For a long time, he was the only one. But now, all over Central City, a whole bunch of citizens have been struck by lightning and have gained the same powers Barry has. Some, like Barry’s friend August Heart, love their newfound abilities; others are scared and want to go back to a normal life. Dr. Meena Dhawan, a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs, has been inviting those who’ve been affected to train with her, to learn to control their abilities. The Speedforce granted her the ability to sense the Speedforce in others. Together, Barry, August, and Meena are helping the new speedsters and protecting them from a new threat. A speedster called Godspeed is targeting these new recruits and stealing their speed. Barry feels responsible, but he’s not alone anymore and thus doesn’t have to shoulder the burden on his own. When the identity of Godspeed is revealed, he thinks it may just be better to go it alone…

This one had a lot packed in it. The first issue had to do a lot with the Batman/The Flash: The Button (2017), which I hadn’t read, so I felt a little lost. I’ve heard it’s good, so I’ll have to pick it up =P After that, it dropped off, and the story picks up by itself. There was a lot going on in the story here, but everything ties together nicely. By the end I wanted to go back and see what I’d missed! The art is serviceable. The figures are very angular, every edge and corner sharp. It works great in the action scenes with all the lightning, but just looks plain odd in slower scenes. This is one of the better Rebirth titles I’ve picked up, and will be reading more!

– Kathleen

Williamson, Joshua, Carmine di Giandomenico, and Ivan Plascencia. The Flash (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Lightning Strikes Twice. 2017.

The Flash: Rebirth (2010)

Barry Allen sacrificed himself during the Crisis on Infinite Earths to restore balance to the Multiverse. He’s escaped the Speedforce and was brought back to life, a feat that no other Speedster has been able to accomplish. Everyone – the League, the citizens of Central City, and his family – are overjoyed to have him back. In fact, the only person who’s not happy about it is Barry himself. He feels a strange urgency, like time is running out. But for what, he’s not sure. The world is telling him to slow down, but Barry feels he needs to go faster than ever. He’s not entirely convinced he escaped the Speedforce on his own – he may have been set free. But by who, and for what purpose? Could he have been brought back to life just to die again?

As big a fan as I am of the show, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to actually pick up a Flash comic. I absolutely loved it! The artwork was dynamic and crackling with power and emotion. You know anything Geoff Johns writes is going to be good, but this story was just phenomenal. The emotional pull of Barry’s dilemma and his family willing to do anything to help is what makes this story special. The story is just as fast-paced as you’d expect a Flash comic to be, but the love that was obviously infused into the story and characters carries a lot of weight. I will definitely be looking for more.

– Kathleen

Johns, Geoff, and Ethan Van Sciver. The Flash: Rebirth. 2010.

Last JL Trailer!

YEEEEEEEE

Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince are rounding up more metahumans – superheroes – to save the world. Someone’s got to, now that Superman is gone, right? The world needs a hero like him… but why have one, when you can have five? =P

The thing I liked most was we finally got to see some more Cyborg. Most of his costume was likely done in post-production, so we haven’t seen much of him until this trailer. I like what I see!!! I do hope he plays a bigger role in the movie than has been shown in the trailers so far =D

Speaking of liking what I see… Jason Momoa as Aquaman… perfect casting, in my humble opinion ;D

Bruce’s face at 2:48 tho… being so done with Ezra Miller Barry… I feel you, Bruce. I feel you.

Justice League hits theaters November 17th! My fiance and I have the whole weekend blocked off for it and making Bob’s Burgers >:D

Yes, you read that right… my boyfriend is now my fiance! He proposed while we were in Amsterdam, after the concert. I was waiting to post to all social media until we were able to tell and celebrate with our families in person. We are so happy and excited to be entering a new chapter of our lives together ❤

– Kathleen

Flash: Season 2

the-flash-season-2-premiere-review

***There are spoilers for the end of Flash S1 ahead***

Oooh boy. Hold on to your hats, kids. This season of Flash was just wild.

The singularity that opened when Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, was defeated, has been closed. It came at a terrible cost. Ronnie and Dr. Stien fused into Firestorm to help Barry close it, and Ronnie died in the attempt. Barry now works alone, in an effort to keep more of his friends from dying. Team Flash has scattered: Cisco now works with Joe in the metahuman task force at the police department, and Caitlin is at Mercury Labs.

But then a brand new metahuman shows up, saying he was sent to kill the Flash by a person called Zoom. And another. And then another. Cisco and Caitlin, along with Joe and Iris, beg Barry to rethink his whole lone vigilante thing and let them back on the team. Barry eventually caves, and Team Flash is reunited.

Someone else shows up at STAR Labs, too. He introduces himself as Jay Garrick, the Flash from another earth – Earth-2. He says that the singularity Barry just closed led to his Earth, and he was sucked into it while fighting Zoom and has lost his powers. He warns them of Zoom’s terrible speed, and his awful hunger for more. He offers to help Barry get faster, to learn more about his powers, in order to defeat the monster.

More and more people from Team Flash’s life start to reappear. Francine, Joe’s ex-wife, wants to reconnect with her family. She bears some terrible secrets from being gone for so long. The Earth-2 doppelganger of Harrison Wells travels through the breach, scaring the hell out of everyone. He came in order to help Barry defeat the metas from his Earth that Zoom is sending to kill him. Some of those metas are doppelgangers of Team Flash’s friends, family, even themselves…

Meanwhile, Zoom is always one step ahead of Team Flash, taunting them, promising to steal Barry’s speed. He’s much faster than Barry, much faster than the Reverse Flash ever was. How can they hope to defeat him before he takes away everyone they love?

The big draw this season was the introduction of the multi-verse. Though we only dealt with one other Earth this season, at the end, it was heavily hinted that there will be more in future seasons, which is so exciting!!! I’m eager for season 3 to wrap up already and come out on DVD so my boyfriend and I can marathon it 8D

The writing, as ever, was superb. The “return” of Harrison Wells was met with the appropriate shock and outrage by everyone on the team, especially Barry. The incorporation of the multiverse was excellently explained. Everyone on Team Flash really went through the ringer this season with their own tragedies and heartaches, even the unsympathetic characters. Still, you can’t help but root for them.

My one bone to pick this season was the romance. They introduce Patty Spivot, a crime lab assistant in the comics, as Joe’s new partner and member of the metahuman task force. Barry inevitably starts dating her. My boyfriend and I spent every episode of their too-long romance rolling our eyes. I know they do it to draw people in and keep them watching, but anyone who’s been paying attention knows that Barry and Iris ultimately will end up together. When? Who knows??? But it’s been hinted at enough that they can’t put it off forever. So they may as well just cut out the middleman and make them a thing already. Spare us this unnecessary secondhand embarrassment.

I think Flash is by far my favorite DC TV show. It’s got humor. It’s got heart. It’s got kickass characters, plenty of action, and now, it’s got the multiverse. There was plenty to feast on this season and now we have some things to chew over for the next few.

– Kathleen

The Flash – Season 1

FlashS1<3

I’m kinda late to this game… I’m kinda late to catch up on all my shows actually. Dat grad school life has got me able to only follow one show consistently, and I chose Supergirl. Mostly because I don’t have anything going on Monday nights, and mostly because I knew as a fledgling show, it needed my view more. What I do is, since I work in a library, I wait for the DVD sets to come out and put holds on them so my boyfriend and I can binge-watch them. He did buy me the first season of Flash for Christmas, and we just finished it this weekend. And holy COW.

Barry Allen is a forensic scientist in the Central City Police Department. He’s excited for a gigantic scientific breakthrough happening in the city: Dr. Harrison Wells has built a particle accelerator at S.T.A.R. Labs. He is in his lab, watching it turn on on TV, when it explodes. The resulting storm creates a lightning bolt that strikes him and puts him in a coma for nine months. When he wakes up, he’s at S.T.A.R. Labs. Dr. Wells, Caitlyn Snow, and Cisco Ramone (two S.T.A.R. Labs employees) explain to Barry that they took him from the hospital in order to stabilize him, because the doctors at the hospital couldn’t figure out why he kept flatlining. It wasn’t that he kept dying – it was because Barry’s heart was beating too fast for the machines to keep up. The lightning strike left Barry with supernatural speed.

This leaves Barry excited – and scared. When he was eleven years old, he witnessed his mother’s murder, and his father was convicted and sent to prison. No one believed Barry when he said that his dad didn’t do it – it was the man in the lightning. Joe West, lead detective on the case, takes Barry in and raises him alongside Iris, Barry’s best friend. For his entire life, Barry has investigated cold cases and paranormal events, looking for any scrap of a clue that could lead to solving his mom’s murder and freeing his dad from prison. Now, he is paranormal. And he is dedicated to using his powers to help people and to find out who killed his mother.

The world is a little different, though, as he remembers it before the coma. The failure and explosion of the particle accelerator has left the reputation of Dr. Wells and S.T.A.R. Labs tarnished. His best friend, Iris, is dating Eddie Thawne, Detective West’s partner. Barry tries not to let it show how much it hurts, because he secretly loves Iris. And more and more, Barry and the others at S.T.A.R. Labs are finding out that he was not the only one affected by the dark matter the particle accelerator gave off when it exploded. There are others with powers running around Central City, and they’re not all as nice as Barry. Joe finds Barry’s secret out pretty quickly, and makes him promise not to tell Iris, to keep her safe from the metahumans.

Caitlyn, Cisco, and Dr. Wells help Barry learn to use his powers, and become his team to help him stop bad guys and save people. They all grow very close. But more and more it becomes apparent to Detective West that something isn’t right with Dr. Wells. Joe, convinced now that Barry was telling the truth about the night his mother was killed, starts investigating Dr. Wells. There are things about his story that don’t add up, and Joe is determined to find the truth and reveal it to Barry – no matter the cost.

My boyfriend and I really enjoyed it. When stuff gets real, it gets really real, but it never loses its fun or humanity. Flash doesn’t take itself as seriously as Arrow does. Even the crossover episodes were more fun because of the contrast between the feel of Arrow in Flash’s territory. Everyone feels real and goes through a lot of growth: Barry of course, but Caitlyn, Iris, Detective West, and even Dr. Wells, too. I adored that Barry was never afraid to admit when he was scared or to show his feelings. He cries when he is stressed, scared, or missing his mom. While I used to like my men dark and broody, I find that there is a real strength in showing your feelings and being vulnerable (speaking from experience). I loved that Barry did it too, and showed that it was okay. There are tons of villains and other characters from the comics that show up, and even more are hinted at.

After that doozy of a cliffhanger, we seriously can’t wait to watch Season 2. We have one tiny little bit of it figured out already just from me watching the crossover episode on Supergirl the other week. But there is so much more we can’t wait to see! Curse you, grad school life!!! After I graduate I will be able to watch shows actually on TV (or at least DVR them) and not wait an eternity for the DVD’s to come out!

– Kathleen

P.S. Please no spoilers in the comments! Thank you =D

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