Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crisis on Earth-Blog: The Flash (v.2) #66

Some threats are too big for one hero to handle. Some crises encompass more than one world in the multiverse. Certain epic adventures call for a crossover!

Today, for the first time, Crimson Lightning is teaming up with the Aquaman Shrine for a comic blog crossover! Both Rob Kelly and I will be reviewing the same book, The Flash (v.2) #66, and each of our reviews will inevitably examine this twist-filled tale featuring the Flash and Aquaman from a unique fan perspective. Once you've finished reading the Crimson Lightning commentary, race on over to the Aquaman Shrine for another in-depth review. This may provide the launching point for a new feature reviewing the crimson comet's comic book appearances, and I certainly hope that it will prove to be the first in a long line of celebratory comic blog crossovers. In any case, Rob and I hope that you enjoy what we're calling "Crisis on Earth-Blog!"

The Flash (v.2) #66

Title: "Fish Story"
Cover Blurb: "The Race You Demanded! Flash vs. Aquaman. Warning! This Scene Does Not Appear in This Issue!"
Cover Price: $1.25
Date: July 1992

Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Michael Collins
Inker: Roy Richardson
Letterer: Ken Holewczynski
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Cover: Michael Collins & José Marzan Jr.

Synopsis: A vacation shared by Wally West and Linda Park turns into a nightmare when their cruise ship is unexpectedly forced onto the reefs surrounding a mysterious island by a pod of sperm whales! A villainess calling herself the Marine Marauder has been using her ability to command sea life to prompt shipwrecks so that she may enslave the castaways. Her goal is the unearthing of a legendary Babylonian artifact known as the Crown of Enlil. Concerned only with the safety of the enslaved men and women around him, the Flash agrees to help the Marauder recover the crown and learns that Aquaman has been brainwashed into compliance as well! Working underwater with the king of the seven seas, the fastest man alive soon discovers a vast palace concealed beneath the island. The secrets contained therein were better left hidden, however. Both the Flash and the Marine Marauder are forced to contend with an ancient evil of unimaginable power when it becomes apparent that the Crown of Enlil has taken possession of Aquaman!

Commentary: There's nothing better than discovering a comic book in which your two favorite characters join forces. Ask any kid, they'll tell you. As my all-time favorite superheroes have always been the Flash and Aquaman, it's a joy to see any story featuring both characters in the roll call, let alone a proper team-up. In "Fish Story," written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Michael Collins, and inked by Roy Richardson, the scarlet speedster finds himself fighting both with and against the sea king in a self-contained story that's fast-paced and filled with plot twists. As a team-up tale, this issue is downright frustrating and ultimately disappointing, primarily because Arthur spends the entire story possessed by the malevolent spirit of Enlil, an ancient, vengeful god! It isn't until the issue's final page, in fact, that we're able to see Aquaman acting in character. There is some consolation to be found in the fact that the story repeatedly emphasizes his raw power as a superhero. When the Crown of Enlil takes possession of the King of Atlantis on a mysterious tropical island, even though he's being manipulated, there's a sense of tension and terror that accompanies the invoked understanding that this aquatic hero is one of the DC Universe's most uniquely empowered characters. With Arthur acting as a possessed puppet, there's never a moment in which the Flash shares the heroic spotlight. This serves to compliment the construction of Wally West, who was at this time an outright self-absorbed superhero. As always, the Mark Waid-penned narrative entertainingly explores the Flash's personality and provides him with a distinctive voice. Sadly, there are also missed opportunities aplenty in this tale. The story's villain is the Marine Marauder--a substandard supervillainess who first appeared in the pages of Adventures of the Outsiders--despite the fact that the script just screams for the presence of a more recognizable and formidable foe, perhaps the Ocean Master or Black Manta. As Wally comments snarkily, the Marine Marauder comes across "about as threatening as a Valley girl." She is capable of controlling sea life in the same manner as Aquaman, though, and this leads to a number of exciting sequences involving our finny friends. As in all of the sea king's many illustrious adventures, it's a delight to see undersea life--legions of sperm whales, swordfish, sharks, and octopi--taking part in the action. The issue's artwork is at times beautifully detailed, especially in the underwater scenes, and nicely represents our two iconic heroes. This cover has long been a favorite of mine, in part because it is easily the funniest cover of The Flash's second volume. There's some remarkable use of coloring in the issue as well, specifically in those tense moments during which Aquaman is possessed by the angry Enlil and his costume's traditional orange and green color-scheme is replaced with darker, more threatening browns and blues. Ultimately, this issue's stand-out highlights are those brief, atmospheric scenes in which we're able to watch the Flash modify his costume with scuba gear, find his sea legs, and join Aquaman in his watery realm, that beautiful but dangerous world that lies beneath the ocean waves. It's not often that the fastest man alive and the king of the seven seas are able to team-up and it's undeniably exciting to see them dive into the depths side-by-side.

High-Speed Highlight: Aboard the cruise ship S.S. Metropolis Spirit, Wally West tries to instruct the lovely Linda Park on the tennis court but is quickly caught-up in his own show of bravado, playing a fast-paced round of tennis against himself at superspeed!

Quotable: "We were a shipwreck waiting to happen... I started to black out, but not before catching a glimpse of the guy responsible for this catastrophe--as I was about to tell Linda, the only man I know who's fluent in whalespeak." --The Flash discovers that the one and only Aquaman may be involved in the shipwrecks surrounding a mysterious island

Comic Blog Crossover: On the occassion of our first comic blog crossover, special thanks go out to our good friend Rob Kelly. I've long been waiting for the chance to join forces with Rob and his blog. To read more about this uncommon team-up between two of the DC Universe's greatest heroes, don't forget to visit the Aquaman Shrine!


Anonymous said...

I remember this issue. It was nice to see the crossover, and I like the way it was handled. Still, I love Barry's old races with Superman as my favorite Flash team-ups.

ryan said...

Love that cover, completely hilarious in a good way.

It's a fun issue. I enjoyed it.

Great idea with the blog cross-over!

Dixon said...

Part of the fun to be derived from any Flash team-up, really, is the invoked memory of all those classic competitions with Superman. It's also why this issue's cover is so amusing. Thanks for the comments, guys! I'm glad you enjoyed the blog crossover. We'll have to set-up another one real soon.