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Back In a Flash

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Comic history is littered with classic creative teams. Teams whose names are forever linked to one another and the title they helped make great. They have a legendary run before breaking up and going on their own way.     

Sometimes these historic teams get the chance to reunite. But, often, it is with mixed results. Marv Wolfman’s and George Perez’s small section of Teen Titans #50 was like a piece of chocolate that made you crave the whole box. However, Chris Claremont and John Byrne getting back together on an arc of JLA paled in comparison to their Uncanny X-Men era (although, to be fair, Claremont only acted as a scripter for the later arc).

The team of Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins might not be quite at the legendary status just yet, but it might be just a matter of time. While their run on DC’s Flash might not be a classic now, they way DC is mishandling the character, it soon will be.

You might think that Geoff Johns started on Flash first, and Kolins joined him later. But, in reality, Kolins’ involvement with the title predates Johns’ by four issues. Kolins provided fill in artwork on issue # 160.

Geoff Johns took over the title with issue #164, and made an impression right off the bat. He almost had to. He was following in the footsteps of a long line of great writers—Mike Baron, William Messner-Loebs, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, and Mark Waid again (teamed with Brian Augustyn). With this group, if you don’t come on strong, you shouldn’t come at all.

When he took over the title, he was far from the superstar we know today. All he had was a couple of miniseries and his job co-writing the JSA series. So his success with Flash was anything but guaranteed. But he clicked with the character. He wrote some of the best stories ever to star the character and his work on the title helped make him a superstar.

Kolins joined Flash as regular penciller seven issues into Johns run, at the start of his second arc. He would stay two and a half years, becoming Johns’ major collaborator on the series.

Kolins has a unique style, kind of a marriage of manga and conventional superhero art. Love it or hate it, his art style was the perfect fit for Flash. It was bright, kinetic, and eye-catching.

The tandem seemed to be the perfect fit. Johns’ writing brought out the best in Kolins’ artwork and vice versa. And both creators made Flash one of the most interesting books on the market.

The team also collaborated on the underrated Thing: Freakshow miniseries for Marvel while working on Flash. Kolins would also do a fill in arc on Johns’ run on Avengers, as well.

Kolins left Flash after issue 200, and Johns left just over two years later. It was thought their contribution to the Flash legacy was finished. But it wasn’t over just yet.

When DC announced it’s spate of tie-in miniseries to its Final Crisis event, the announced creators for its Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge must have put cheer in many a Flash fan’s heart. The creative team for the miniseries was Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins.

Once again, Johns and Kolins will be visiting the Flash Universe. The series stars the Flash Rogues Gallery, who most recently played a part in the Salvation Run series. They are back on Earth and trying to lay low. However, there are some scores to be settled. Payback is a dish best served cold, and it’s about to be served by Captain Cold and his cronies.

Johns and Kolins working on the Flash’s bad guys should be like printing money. One of comic’s greatest creative teams are returning to the concept that they know best. This doesn’t happen often, so fans should enjoy it while it lasts.

Also out this week:

Moon Knight #20:

Back in the 1970s, when Moon Knight was created, there was a lot of ways for a new Marvel character to catch on. They could star in an issue of one of the many anthologies that were around in that day, like Iron Fist and Ghost Rider did. Or, they could rise from the ranks of another hero’s supporting cast, like Ms. Marvel did. They could also get their start as bad guys, fighting the heroes of the day. That was the case with Wolverine, the Punisher, and yes, even Moon Knight.

Moon Knight first appeared in Werewolf By Night #32 as a bounty hunter aiming to capture werewolf Jack Russell for a shadowy secret organization. The character proved popular enough that fans wanted to see more of him. He eventually became one of Marvel’s favorite characters, while Jack Russell faded to semi-obscurity.

Now, the tables are turned. Werewolf By Night guest stars in this issue. Perhaps the spotlight shined on the character will be enough for him to return to the public eye? We’ll see.   

Mike Benson (W), Mike Deodato (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Conan The Cimmerian #1:

In case you missed it, last month, Conan began his return home to Cimmeria. And, as it is with anything to do with Conan, it is never easy. When we return home, there is a lot of  catching up with family and friends, reminiscing about old times, and visiting old haunts. When Conan returns home, there is hacking, slashing, death and dismemberment. And probably the lamentation of women.

The new era of Conan continues its launch with the official first issue of a brand new series. Dark Horse is marking the occasion—and stretching Conan fan’s wallets—with not one, but two different covers for the issue. However, when two of the covers are drawn by Frank Cho and Joe Kubert respectively, that makes the expense a little easier to pay!

Timothy Truman (W), Tomás Giorello (A), Dark Horse Comics, $2.99.  Ongoing Series.

Batgirl #1:

The Cassandra Cain Batgirl is one of the most unique and interesting characters created in the modern era of comics. Raised to be an assassin, she was never taught to speak, read or write. Instead, she was taught to study body language and to predict a target’s movement. She eventually struggled against her upbringing and her disability to become one of Gotham’s most captivating heroes.

That is, until One Year Later came along and turned her into the villainous head of the League of Assassins, a new direction that didn’t sit well with fans whatsoever.

Slowly, Cassandra has begun to return to the side of the angels. This miniseries continues that progression, as Batgirl tries to once again prove herself as a hero.

Adam Beechen (W), Jim Calafiore (A), DC Comics, $3.99.  Six-Issue Miniseries.

Foolkiller: White Angels #1:

Well, somebody must have liked the last Foolkiller miniseries. And I’ll bet it was someone high up at Marvel. It certainly wasn’t the comic buyers. The last series never cracked the 20,000 issue ordered plateau. As a matter of fact, the last issue didn’t even break the 10,000 issue ordered plateau! I’m sure MAX might be like Marvel’s version of Vertigo, where they give it a little more leeway with sales, but still. If you can’t sell 10,000 copies of an issue, then it doesn’t deserve a sequel.

However, amazing but true,  Foolkiller gets a sequel this week. This time, he hits a hate-crime organization operating out of Los Angeles called the White Angels. And solicitations hint that Foolkiller will meet up with the Punisher. That should be good for a sales boost. But, let’s be honest, it would be hard for sales to get much worse.

Gregg Hurwitz (W), Paul Azaceta (A), MAX/Marvel Comics, $3.99. Five-Issue Miniseries.

The Helm #1:

It is a helmet of unimaginable power. It could quite possibly be the most powerful weapon on the face of the Earth. It grants its wearer almost limitless abilities. It has been waiting for centuries to be united with “the Chosen One,” the one man brave enough, strong enough, courageous enough to lead humanity into the Golden Age.

What it gets is Matt Blurdy, a fat, unemployed, girlfriendless loser who lives in his parent’s basement. The helm was looking for a hero, and what it got is a zero. It was looking for a man of action, what it got was a man built for slacking. Worse yet, the helm called Matt to itself. And Matt is not one who likes being led on. The real “Chosen One” might still be out there somewhere. Too bad Matt has no desire to let his new fashion accessory go.

Jim Hardison (W), Bart Sears (A), Dark Horse Comics, $3.50.  Four-Issue Miniseries.

Voltron: A Legend Forged #1:

When I was a kid, I thought Voltron was the coolest thing ever. Five lion robots, manned by five friends that could combine into one big sword wielding robot? That was right up my alley! I remember the Voltron cartoon was appointment television for me when I came home from school and I begged my parents to buy me a Voltron action figure.

I’m sure I am not the only person who had this reaction to Voltron, and lucky for us, this week Voltron returns to comics. Josh Blaylock and Mike Bear give us the true origin of the multi-part robot, and here’s a hint: it dates back centuries. If you want the real story behind one of the best concepts of all time, then you have to pick this series up.

Josh Blaylock (W), Mike Bear (A), Devil’s Due Publishing, $3.50.  Five-Issue Miniseries.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a frequent contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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