For writing only their second issue together, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are doing a pleasantly solid job with "The Flash." The overall story feels like a road that we've done down before, but it's a combination of charm and little touches throughout the comic that make it memorable.
One of my favorite moments from this issue was how Manapul and Buccellato address the idea of super-speed learning. It's a concept that has always seemed a tiny bit iffy, but the pair take the idea and approach it with more thought than just, "He's got extra time to learn how to do things." But more importantly? Perhaps because they're both artists as well, they take that concept and express it in a visual manner, one that has it make much more sense than in the past.
There's something about that moment where Barry starts absorbing information at super-speed that just looks sharp on the page; all the little panels clustered around him as the scene around him fades out, each individual panel being a separate piece of information. Having 22 little squares in orbit around Barry's head might sound like an odd thing, but Manapul lays out the page perfectly, and does so in a way that then lines up with the pages to come. It's a neat way of having Barry's new ability make sense to the reader as well as to him, letting us go through the process alongside the hero.
In general, though, it's the art that enchants. I love how Buccellato and Manapul use a different coloring scheme for flashbacks -- all hazy and tinted, almost dreamlike -- so that they instantly stand out. There's the long, two-page top panel of the Flash fighting his way through all the bodies of Mob Rule. And in general, no one draws a speedster quite like Manapul and Buccellato; the end result is breathtaking. Even if this was just 20 pages of the Flash running through town, I think I'd feel like we were getting our money's worth.
Some other aspects of "The Flash" #2 seem a little more familiar; the old friend caught up in a strange experiment, the love triangle, the villain whose power is deliberately designed to counter the Flash's. It's not bad at all, but compared to the issue it's not quite as exciting. But it's still a good second issue, and Manapul and Buccellato are clearly settled into their roles of co-authors to provide a consistent, entertaining comic. "The Flash" is definitely in good hands in the DC re-launch, and I'm entertained enough to keep reading. Fun stuff.