Spinning Migraine

April 12, 2003

By Avi Green

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

Flash #195: Off Balance
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Scott Kolins
Inker: Doug Hazelwood

It’s been not too long after the Scarlet Speedster found himself back in Keystone City after unsuccessfully trying to collar Gorilla Grodd in the last issues and story arc, and he’s spending some time getting examined in the hospital by Jerry McGee, while as for his wonderful wife, Linda, she’s being tested on her pregnancy by Jerry’s own wife, Tina. Meanwhile, over in police precinct 242, officers Chyre and Morillo are looking at the pictures for all those criminals who’ve escaped from Iron Heights. And then, down at the docks near the VanBuren bridge, where mayor Keith Kenyon, the former Green Lantern nemesis called Goldface, is giving a speech to the public, the whole meeting is rudely interrupted by the interference of the dead-or-alive villain, the Top! And has he got a very dangerous new power to go with his regular one, in which his eyes can send other people’s sight out of control till they end up getting nauseated. He’s so crazy now that he’s attempting to kill the mayor so that he can get the city elections started and then run for mayor himself. Or, maybe more precisely, he’s determined to become the dictator of Keystone.

And that's where all credibility for this issue pretty much goes down the drain. I came away from this feeling more than a tad nauseous myself.

This issue is another example of how Geoff Johns resorts to shock tactics, since the Roscoe Dillon's power can cause people to vomit from how messes with their heads and vision. It certainly works on Wally. Yep, you read that right.

He goes to Hunter Zolomon to ask for advice, and the police profiler suggests closing his eyes. But boy, does Wally ever play dumb at confronting the Top even before doing that! He zips up in front of the Top with his arms folded on his chest and leaves himself open to attack, causing him to vomit a second time when Dillon strikes with his vision-bending. Excuse me, what's going on here? Even Jay Garrick and Barry Allen would've leapt in with a stallion's kick, regardless of whether it helps or not, and wouldn't just let the villain strike them down without trying to land a blow themselves. This strange "holdback" actually happened earlier with Gorilla Grodd, but is even more awkward here. And when Wally finally defeats the Top, it's with a mere kick to the face. That easy? I'm afraid they're going to have to do better than that. Johns must've been so desperate to show Wally learning some new strategy, he forgot to make it more challenging than it was.

At the end of the issue, Linda learns she's having twins. Which would've been great if it hadn't been for the bore that is the wooden match between Wally and the Top. It just ruined everything. This was definitely bottom.

Copyright 2003 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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