In four stories, Jeremy Adams and a quartet of great artists showcases the evil Fraction empire that’s currently invading Earth, and how various members of the Flash Family face them in the past, present, and future – with a few surprises along the way in The Flash: One Minute War Special!
The Flash: One Minute War Special – The Story
Taking advantage of the red-hot sales and excitement greeting his One Minute War concept, Jeremy Adams delivers the third book for Flash fans in the month of January with The Flash: One Minute War Special. Now, I’ve given Adams a bit of grief on Twitter about the title, since for the past three years, DC has been putting out oversized anthology books like this for its major storylines/events/crossovers. Starting with The Joker War Zone spearheaded by James Tynion IV, then writer Josh Williamson deployed the idea first in Shadow War Zone, then Dark Crisis: War Zone (which even included a Flash Family story featuring Iris and Linda by Adams himself!) But when Adams created an event with “War” in the title, he forgot to name his anthology “One Minute War Zone”! Ooops! Ah, well, it’s not a huge loss, since of the four War-themed event anthology books, this is undoubtedly the best (though the others all had excellent pieces).
Part of the reason this book is the best not-War-Zone collection begins with the fact that Adams writes all four pieces, leading to a sense of unity of place and theme. Though undoubtedly some editors can corral writers in an anthology to make it have a unity of tone, theme, and event, there’s something about having the same creative voice that really ties things together. Not that Adams writes any of the four stories anywhere close to the same way!
Past, with art by main series artist Fernando Pasarin features the backstory of the mysterious Fraction empire, narrated by the terrifying Admiral commanding their invasion fleet, the first of the alien race to access the Speed Force through technology. Similar to Earth’s Deathstroke, this military man turned superpowered soldier leverages his mind and body in the service of his government, the veiled Empress, and eventually, when ordered to conquer a thousand worlds to sustain his exhausted homeworld (shades of Warhammer 40k), demands his Empress’s hand in marriage if he succeeds. This dark backstory gives a lot of motivation to the Fraction that we see in our present day story. It really helps to lift the veil (though not on the Empress) on what our heroes the Flash Family are facing. A hyper efficient Malthusian civilization stretching through the universe, justifying itself all the way. Fun stuff, and thankfully not quite as hamfisted as similar antagonists such as those of the Avatar series (blue people, not the Airbenders).
Present, full art by Serg Acuna of the cover and the Flash Annual last year, spins a delightful tale of Avery Ho, Flash of China, facing the evil villain Dark Wu, when they are interrupted by a team of Fraction soldiers, who freeze Avery’s foe, giving her a chance to recover and save herself (and the villain) from their clutches. Adams and Acuna really make Avery a likable problem solver, a classic wartime type short adventure with a plucky protagonist. Hopefully Avery shows up in the main story, though it’ll be interesting if without the full speed advantage of a Flash she can make it all the way from China to Central City.
Continuing at the same time but in a VERY different mode, Present Part Two, art by Argentinian penciller Lisandro Estherren, shows the Fraction unit Theta Squad investigating a frozen fancy dress party…and getting slaughtered one by one, horror movie style, by Flash villain Godspeed. Like the Avery Ho story, it’ll be quite interesting if this short story plays into the finale. The pairing of artists with story type in both of these Present stories perfectly captures the emotions Adams writes – lighthearted adventure for Avery, and dark horror for Godspeed.
Last and best, Chapter Four: Future presents Jai West, hero name Surge, illustrated brilliantly with wild cartoony and distinctively stylistic energy by George Kambadais, who’s provided several brilliant variant covers for this run of The Flash. As an adult, Jai and his family are searching throughout time and space for his younger brother (presumably the baby currently in his mother Linda’s womb, giving her speed powers) – Irey as The Flash heading through Hypertime and giving us a fun look at several alternate universes, particularly the recently concluded Jurassic League. Jai finds the Fraction, the kidnappers, and takes them on with his super speed and super strength powers – but the villains overwhelm him with numbers until the frenetic but brilliant Gold Beetle arrives (with much fanfare from her robot/ship Beets). Adams seeds a story through this future tale, hinting that Gold Beetle and Jai will meet sometime soon in the present timeline, and delightfully sets up their romance (already hinted at in the first arc of his run when Wally met his adult daughter in his ricochets through time). Though the tale ends without the rescue of the brother (to prevent us learning TOO much about the forthcoming West baby, like his name or powers!), with the Flash Family plus Gold Beetle, the future looks quite bright.
Final Note on the Cover
Serg Acuna, artist for the Flash Annual last year, draws a very cool cover image used both for the main cover and in a textless foil incentive variant usually sold for about $25. Acuna features Wally, Barry, Ace, and Bart in his composition, even though none of these characters are really featured in the comic itself – but Acuna’s composition is still quite exciting!