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The ’90s Revisited: The Flash Plus #1


flashplus0001nightwingThe Flash + Nightwing: Doorway to Nightmare

Story: Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
Pencils: Eduardo Barreto
Inks: Gerry Fernandez
Letterer: Gasper
Colorist: Ian Laughlin
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: January 1997
Cover Price: 2.95

I’ve seen a number of these Character Plus+ issues through the years…acquired some myself, even…though I don’t know that I’ve ever actually gotten around to reading any. But being in a Flash mood recently, and this being extra-sized as well as knowing it “had to” be more of a one-shot, it was something I knew immediately would be well worth a quarter, fishing it out of a quarter bin.

Wally and Dick are headed out on vacation. Dick’s a bit peeved that Wally yet again failed to do the planning for their vacation, so he had to make all the plans/arrangements. And Wally–impatient as always–is not happy being stuck in a car to make their way to a destination rather than being able to simply run under his own speed. The two arrive in New Orleans at a haunted house/attraction…and though Wally couldn’t see how there’d be anything special to it, the two soon find themselves up to their necks in trouble. They ultimately uncover plans of an alien invasion and must work together to stop it, beat back existing aliens, and save the world.

…Which is a really simplistic summation of the issue, considering its extra size. But I’m not writing this as a wiki piece of the issue–this was yet another of my embracing a ’90s comic and enjoying it.

With The New 52 having done away with the DC Universe I grew up on several years ago, and Wally being sidelined for years before that, I’d forgotten about the friendship he and Dick shared. Both started out as sidekicks (Robin and Kid Flash), both “graduated” into their own identities–Dick as Nightwing, Wally embracing and living up to his part in the Flash legacy), both are now (at this point in the continuity) adults, and there’s that sense of history and friendship with them…at least from my knowledge of the characters.

The cover is rather generic…yet I definitely enjoy it. I like the shadowy effect with mostly-black, but the lightning in the background showing us key parts of the characters and their costumes so we know who they are. I’m pretty sure genuine lighting doesn’t work that way in actuality…but the effect for this image is plenty cool enough for my eye! I also like the quasi-“grid” effect at the top…whether it’s supposed to be part of the logo or not, it reminds me of classic DC covers in a very subtle way.

The art on the interior is quite good, and I enjoyed it. It was solid, conveying what needed to be conveyed, and never particularly took me out of the story; there were no pages that left me curious about creative human anatomy or if I missed something, and so on. Truth be told, I actually hardly noticed it, which is how I’d prefer: I should enjoy the story in general, and not be relying on the art to carry a poor story nor be taken out of a good story by poor art. I’m not yet familiar enough with this period of The Flash or Nightwing to know offhand if Barreto is the “regular” artist for either character…but while specials and annuals can often have the “look” of being just some random story or fill-in with a non-series-regular artist, this issue did not have that feel for me.

That this issue IS basically a one-shot and not part of a crossover, longer story, event, or so on nor an Annual for either title, I don’t think we’d get something like this today. A single issue playing well within what I’m aware of continuity-wise with both characters, yet doesn’t rely on an individual/ongoing story for either nor require reading of both titles…and lacking a specific-arc tie-in and not ending with a lead-in to some other story…this is a unique piece of history, and an issue well worth its cover price.

Some of the quality probably does come from this being written by Waid/Augustyn–names I’m starting to notice repeatedly cropping up together, though I was already aware of Waid‘s significant (and highly-praised) run on the Flash title. This one issue gives us a good beginning, middle, and end; as well as giving insight into both characters, while sticking primarily with the Flash (Nightwing IS the “plus” after all, not the headlining character).

In an age of $4 comics, where I got to buy and read this for 1/16th that price, by default the issue is very much worth what I paid for it. Even at full cover price, though, this issue would seem to me quite worthwhile compared to a modern issue, and “experiencing” the quality of the story from nearly two decades ago for myself continues to build my interest in reading “classic” Wally West Flash stories, and put shame to the notion of all ’90s comics being crappy stories and periods for characters.

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