Gorilla Warfare

March 31, 2003

Flash #192-194: Run Riot

By Avi Green

Important note: As of 2010, this review has been extensively rewritten, with good reason.

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Scott Kolins

Boy, this was really one of the lowliest excuses for a mayhem filled story.

No sooner has the dust cleared on the last supervillain situation in Keystone City than Iron Heights, the prison mostly for metahumans, is invaded by a small army of gorillas from the secret Gorilla City in Congo. Soon enough, they've busted Grodd out of the cell he's being held in, and when Wally West is called in to try and stop them, he finds himself in over his head. The "Rogues" are freed from their cells, and want to exact revenge upon Wally, but Grodd interrupts with his own plans. He in particular is no pushover, but that's beside the point. What's irritating about this story is how it relies upon shock tactics like jarring mayhem, and worse, Grodd uses his telepathy to project violent images of Wally's friends and family in death and torture situations into the Scarlet Speedster's brain. The story reaches quite a low in the second part when Grodd, on his way out of the prison, spots Hunter Zolomon and Gregory Wolfe trying to get away, and breaks the former's back, crippling him.

A really annoying thing here is that it pushes the boundaries of believability: Wally tries to use a tornado arm swing to push away Grodd, but doesn't succeed, the inmate named Fallout, who's radioactive, showers Grodd with radiation but it has little or no effect. Uh, what? I don't think Grodd has been portrayed with that much endurance before. The absurd continuity winks featured here, like Dr. Alchemy/Albert Desmond in a cell with the Philosopher's Stone (which he somehow has developed the ability to store in his mind?!?), reading books on elements and whatnot alluding to his initial guise as Mr. Element, seemed pointlessly out of place and even unintentionally/inappropriately funny.

When the Flash gets to Congo and Gorilla City to find Grodd and stop him, he meets Nnamdi, the son of the late leader of the town, who's recently been simplifying the city in what must be some kind of silly allusion to global warming hysteria. Grodd eventually turns up and they have their showdown. Here, once again, we're subjected to the irritating sight of Grodd projecting telepathic images into Wally's braiin of Linda being choked (!). This too was quite gratuitous and more like fanfiction than a real story drive. It was also insulting. Oh yes, Wally overcomes that nonsense and defeats the ape-crook, but this time it's fairly short and underwhelming; really odd when you think about how semi-invulnerable Grodd was earlier.

Nnamdi keeps Grodd prisoner in Gorilla City and sends Wally back home with his memory of the exact location of the Congolese burg of apes blanked out. If only I could do the same with the bad taste this left behind. This is a leading example of just how bad Johns can be as a writer.

Copyright 2003 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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