“Ignition Part VI: Up To Speed”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Alberto Dose, Howard Porter
“There are heroes out there who are ashamed to be heroes, then hide in the shadows or are embarrassed to be seen in uniform. Not me.” …not Wally West—The Flash—who wraps up the “Ignition” story-arc with a return to high super-heroics and with the new, more vibrant art of Howard Porter. In “Ignition Part VI: Up to Speed” by Geoff Johns and artists Alberto Dose and Porter, the serial cop-killer gets iced, Wally reveals his superhero identity to his wife, and The Flash is again proud to be the fastest man alive.
The “Ignition” story-arc focuses on the rebirth of Wally West’s hero spirit. After his unborn twins are killed by super-villain, Zoom, in issue 200, West abandons his superhero identity, even going so far as to have his memories of being The Flash erased from his and the entire world’s mind. But in the course of this story-arc, Wally rediscovers his speed powers. At first hesitant to leave his newfound life as a mechanic, Wally’s return to costume is slow, until—with the help of Batman—he remembers the responsibility and joy he had always enjoyed while protecting his world. And although Wally’s road to regained heroism sometimes seemed overly stretched and potholed, it is with a sense of victory that “Ignition” finally ends. The Flash has a teeth-busting battle with the cop-killer, Wally gleefully embraces his superhero identity, Keystone City celebrates the return of their hero, and even Linda West seems to again accept that her husband is The Flash.
However, with Linda West the issue falters. A strong and sometimes more intriguing sub-plot in “Ignition” was the anticipation of Linda’s reaction upon learning that her husband is really the superhero that she blames for her children’s deaths. In this issue, as Wally prepares to finally reveal his secret to Linda, his anxiety is almost palpable. Johns’ skill as a writer, capable of capturing the essence of dread, is remarkable here. Yet, abruptly, the writing falls flat. Too hastily paced are Linda’s reactions—much like a bad soap opera scene that hits an outrageous multitude of emotions, none of which feel sincere because of their brevity. So, the long-awaited scene is shallow, disappointing. However, Linda’s reactions are not yet over—as hinted by the far more touching Epilogue—and perhaps the drama between the couple will improve in upcoming issues.
More to anticipate is Porter’s art. Most of “Ignition” focused on a life without superheroes. Fittingly, Dose’s art was bleak and gritty with a claustrophobic atmosphere. Yet with the plot transition that occurs in this issue—as The Flash fully reemerges—there is also a striking transition in art. Towards the end of the issue, West steps outside his apartment building and, for the first time in so long, feels good about himself. Here, as his walk accelerates into a run, Porter steps in as the new FLASH artist. The pages spark with a vivacity and freshness that perfectly parallel Wally’s regained spirit. Wally’s features are more alive, sharper. His posture is straighter, his carriage more buoyant. And, Keystone City is more spacious, friendlier. Porter’s art seems to mark a new era for The Flash, as Dose departs after leaving readers with one more final impressive fight scene.
FLASH 206 closes with a lingering excitement for Wally West’s costumed future. Johns and Porter have complete control of their story, and ignition has definitely been achieved.
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