REVIEW: ‘The Flash 2021 Annual,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Flash 2021 Annual #1 - But Why Tho

The Flash 2021 Annual #1 is published by DC Comics. The writer is Jeremy Adams, with art by Brandon Peterson and Fernando Pasarin. Colours are from Hi-Fi and Michael Atiyeh. Letters by Steve Wands. This annual is the conclusion to the ‘Blink of an Eye’ arc. Wally West had been sucked into the Speed Force, sent through time and space. Every time he has been released, Wally has been put into the body of a speedster. Oliver Queen, Barry Allen, and Mister Terrific in the present are trying to bring their friend back. After his latest adventure, Wally is brought back into his own body, but in the worst possible time.

Wally finds himself at the exact moment he emerged in Heroes In Crisis, which resulted in the death of multiple heroes. This includes his best friend Roy Harper. Stuck in a moment of time, the speedster is aided by an old ally. But Wally soon sees someone else emerging from the Speed Force. An incredibly powerful enemy, one who poses a threat to those in the past and present.

Using an annual to finish this arc results in an enormous, climactic issue. The pace and structure of The Flash 2021 Annual #1 are fast-paced and full of action. The reveal of the final boss adds a level of excitement and peril that had not been present in this arc yet. Many of the criticisms regarding the plot in previous issues are resolved within the issue. The primary problem was that the trio in the present wasn’t having much of an impact on the story. This is not the case in this comic, where both time periods are heavily involved. The final historical period being Heroes in Crisis is fantastic storytelling by Adams as it is a recent emotional gut-punch to characters and readers alike.

The comic is full of action and fights, with characters teaming up for the first time in a very long time. But the pace also slows down to allow for some beautifully poignant pieces of dialogue and emotional scenes. It is a blend that gives this arc a depth that has been needed since the start.

Wally West’s constant moving and the different story every issue meant that his personality was struggling to break through, but this annual helps him find his identity again. The Heroes in Crisis moment left him wracked with intense guilt and making him relive it brings everything back. Especially when faced with someone he considered family. This issue wraps up not just one story arc, but part of Wally’s journey as well.

The antagonist of the annual is a perfect choice by Adams. Unbelievably powerful and with ties to the Speed Force, it will take more than just the Flash to defeat him. In addition to the villain, Green Arrow is another powerhouse inside this issue, which was not expected at all. He is faced with someone from his past, and Adams’ dialogue is superb in this situation. 

There are brief cameos of two superheroes inside this comic when backup is needed. One of the characters involved does nothing or doesn’t speak. He doesn’t really need to be in this comic, as just one of the heroes would be necessary.  

The art shines for much of the issue, with the first page particularly impressive. Pasarin replicates the 9-panel grid pages that Clay Mann used for the confessional parts of Heroes In Crisis. The artist’s style even looks similar to Mann’s. This is an incredibly clever idea, as it serves as a wonderful homage. The readers make the connection with not just the story, but the actual comic itself. Pasarin covers the past whilst Peterson illustrates the present-day team. Both artists are fantastic at revealing emotions, the horrified facials expressions when the heroes are faced with difficult decisions are depicted with precision. 

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for when the Speed Force is presented. The lightning looks fantastic, but there are too many overlapping lines and it can be difficult to process what is happening. This is surely intentional at times but too often it makes the panel feel cluttered. Peterson’s artwork also leads to some figures having strange proportions. 

The colours are brilliant. Like with the pencil art, the scene in Sanctuary has very similar colours to how it looked in the actual comic. This places Wally right in that situation, fitting in instead of looking out of place. There is a richness to the colours from both artists, vibrant and bright on every panel. Whether the battle is taking place in a cornfield or a high-tech lab, the lighting and shades are consistent.

The letters have a great design. There is a lot of dialogue within The Flash 2021 Annual #1, but Wands places the word balloons where they can be easily absorbed and not obstructing the art. The only text that has a different font is used for the villain’s speeches, but legibility has not been compromised.

The Flash 2021 Annual #1 ends this arc with an energetic and emotional finale. Adams latches on to an existing tragedy to fuel his own story, with tremendous results. It does not feel like King’s work is being trampled on, simply tributed. Whilst there are a few issues with the art, the fight scenes are phenomenal and the comic is filled with heart. A large part of Wally’s life comes full circle in this annual, which should allow him to keep running forwards. And the readers will be with him every step of the way.

The Flash 2021 Annual #1 is available where comics are sold.

The Flash 2021 Annual #1
3.5

TL;DR

The Flash 2021 Annual #1 ends this arc with an energetic and emotional finale. Adams latches on to an existing tragedy to fuel his own story, with tremendous results. It does not feel like King’s work is being trampled on, simply tributed. Whilst there are a few issues with the art, the fight scenes are phenomenal and the comic is filled with heart.