The war against the Fraction begins in earnest in Flash #791, part 2 of One Minute War, with the Flash family gaining a few victorious skirmishes, but also some serious setbacks.
Flash #791 – The Story
In Flash #791, One Minute War finishes its first third out with some brilliantly executed skirmishes between the Flash family, Earth’s only defenders against the aliens who are powered by the Speed Force, and a regrouping and mourning at the West house. The issue closes with the reveal of what appears to be the mid-level boss of the Fraction, Miss Murder, a character designed similarly to the Mouth of Sauron and the horrible Batman Who Laughs. It’ll be quite interesting to see what this villain and her dogs do against the Flashes – I expect a multi-issue battle or series of battles, but the ultimate villain is likely either the Admiral or the Empress, both revealed a little bit more in this issue as ruthless, brutally conquering commanders/rulers.
The way the Flashes meet the Fraction is very exciting – there’s a distinct quality of Star Wars: A New Hope in the way that Ace and Bart try to sneak in and around the Fraction’s invasion spire, continuing Adams and Cruz’s expert deployment of huge action adventure movie storytelling techniques. As they meet up, the Flashes also demonstrate their personalities and warm relationships with each other, from Jay Garrick’s affection for all of the young people around him, to Max Mercury’s struggle between his care for the family and yearning to find his purpose in other realities. And of course the shock of Iris’s apparent death hits home at the end of the issue – though I am curious how one tells that someone who is frozen due to the speed force is dead or alive.
My View of Things
Some readers criticized the first issue for “nothing happening”. However, that criticism falls extremely flat when you look at the fact that the Fractions devastates the city, Iris possibly dies (after proposing marriage to Barry), and they set up all of the Flash family’s status quo in one issue. Additionally, it’s really nice seeing little moments of Wally and Linda being good parents, caring about the emotional safety of their children at the prospect of a beloved relative’s death. The rock solid foundation of the West family as the heart and primary emotional engagement for the reader reminds me that some writers are still providing what Marvel, in their infinite foolishness, threw away with Peter and MJ’s marriage in One More Day/One Moment In Time.
And the use of the kids to provide a youthful, adventurous, reckless side of the family, not to mention Ace and Bart’s double act as very different kinds of nephew/younger brother figures means that you don’t have to give up the young hero aspect. Hopefully other comic writers will take note of how Adams does it, and we see more of this kind of wholesome, not too idealized, but still aspirational family content in superhero books.
Adams also works hard to provide context in case some readers didn’t catch the first issue – at my store, all of the issues sold out immediately, unusually for the title, so that’s a very real possibility! This issue’s half-page catch-up is perfect for this situation, though hopefully a second printing or something similar will fill that demand and help boost future orders for the series! Adams and Cruz both continue to bring their A-game of polished dialogue, strong structure and character strands, and very appealing and consistent artwork telling the story of this One Minute War so well you wish there was an epic and emotional soundtrack playing as you read it!
After my exhaustive look at the covers for issue 1, my recommendation for cover buying after Flash #791 remains the main covers by Taurin Clark, as he’s drawing all six of the main covers, providing a nicely unified look, plus cleverly designed trade dress for this arc. The Daniel Bayliss cardstock covers provide the second best bet for “set” collectors, as he’s drawing several for the arc, this one being a stop-motion style Flash running pose, hinting that Flash is lapping himself in a clever speedster joke.
Marco D’Alfonso’s “Flash eats many foods while running around the world” has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at all, but is quite funny and visually creative (and D’Alfonso is providing 4 covers for this arc, so another potential set for collectors). Kim Jacinto’s 1:25 incentive variant highlights Jacinto’s extremely recognizable jagged, almost abstract style, suited well to Flash and his lightning bolts, though this image also has nothing to do with the interior story. Lastly, for those willing to shell out close to $50, the 1:50 incentive variant in shiny foil of Taurin Clark’s main cover is a nice set that you can probably burn about 300 dollars to collect for this arc alone.
All in all, this title remains at the top of my “buy this comic” recommendation list! You don’t want to miss having this story of family, heroism, and adventure in your collection, with its strong writing and art filling out the complete package.