The texture of what constitutes the end of the world on a grand scale or for a character can take on many forms. Plausibility is a big factor but motivation also takes on an inherent importance as well. Within the context of “The Flash Vol 8: Flash War” [Joshua Williamson/DC/160pgs], the battle is for a sense of loss primarily between Barry Allen and his ward per se: Wally West. Both have endured hardships and loss but the it is the extrusion of alternate timelines that can be affected by their speed aka Speed Force which opens up a diametric element of conflicting elements. The 25th Century comes off a bit “Bill & Ted” while the essence of other superheroes and really their inability to affect any change is related to a secondary structure. The essence of family is strong but also the motivation of different characters to do “what is right”. Wally has lost his children per se in a world that now believes they never existed. However this is all motivated by unrealistic expectations in a slightly unreal world. Ultimately it leads to the unraveling of space time and a villain whose initial motivations were a ruse and the fairly superficial, even in plot, machinations. The resolution is ultimately satisfying, if not undone simplistically despite some great art and tension when a race is on that no other human being can stop but The Flash.
By Tim Wassberg
Like “Infinity War” but in a less existential way “Justice League – No Justice” [Scott Snyder & Joshua Williamson/DC/144pgs] uses the elements of life within a structure of the four Titans Of The Universe: Entropy, Wisdom, Wonder & Mystery. They are used as a texture for the blending of different approaches and thought processes: heroes and villains alike. During previous adventures (like “The Terrifics Vol. 1“), the universe begins breaking down from the cracks created by the Justice League. In trying to help, they created a bigger problem, not through a sense of ignorance but likely of coincidence and conscience. The story is placed into motion by Braniac who seems to have a perception of these ancient Titans being the key to the unraveling of the universe. While this is not quite directly explained in terms of the structure of the multiverse, it does create a basis for the fights which allow different heroes and villains to make headway. Those heroes and villains who are not in play simply go into stasis. What is encouraging is that the main characters like Superman, Flash and Batman don’t hog the scenery. Smaller characters like Beast Boy, Lobo, Martian Manhunter, Lex Luthor, Starfire and Starro are allowed to shine. One image in particular of Beast Boy when Lobo finally encourages him to embrace his rage is a telling moment because it shows the thin line between the villains and the heroes. Similar points happen when Manhunter calms Sinestro’s mind and when Green Arrow faces off against US Government Agent Waller [on Earth] whose psychics destroy something that unbalances the universe. “Justice League: No Justice” has many moving parts but like say “Transformers: Optimus Prime – Vol. 4”, it doesn’t feel the need to over analyze its mythology but simply to give you the basis of its focus. It is the characters and their shortcomings and also compassion as well as failings that make the story work.
By Tim Wassberg
“Deathbed” [Joshua Williamson/Vertigo/152pgs] is the kind of story that Baron Munchausen would be proud of. It is ludicrous in the best possible way because it examines the notion of self in a completely self-indulgent way with a protagonist that is just out of control in the most interestingly possible ways. Antonio Luna has a perception of his life story that is permeated on what he believes is truth and not necessarily the experiences of the people his path has crossed with. The gestation of the story is based on Luna bringing in a slightly washed up writer (Valentine) with one great book to her name to write his story. It ends up being just a ruse to bring his enemies back into the open and have a last big hurrah. The situations that Luna brings himself to including a lost lover, a cult he founded and even the aspect of truth pools guarded by murderous women and jellyfish are just part of the shenanigans, The art is florid and fast paced but also definitely R rated in its perceptions. As a balance, Lobo, another DC stalwart, would be proud. Luna is an accessible character because you see all his failings even as you are along for the ride. Valentime, the writer, in her own special way, is a foil that is not a romantic interest, simply more of a wary chorus to Luna’s Hamlet (which is more spot on than you might think) heading down his path. The resolution also paints to that sense of self in an existential way that gives the piece a definite sting and pertinence. It is a fun ride.
By Tim Wassberg