This Speedster Runs On Gas In The Flash/Speed Buggy Special

by James Ferguson

At last count, there are a bunch of speedsters bouncing around the DC Universe. It’s about to encounter one more as a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist named Dr. Blanc has tapped into the Speed Force with his fancy looking car. He helps Wally West fight Killg%re leading them to a post-apocalyptic future that will leave Pernell changed forever.

As with the Super Sons / Dynomutt Special, I had no idea who Speed Buggy was prior to this comic. I guess this means my Hanna Barbera knowledge is lacking or I only knew about the big ones like Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear. In any case, this one-shot provides a solid and interesting origin story for the character, integrating him into the DC Universe.

Blanc’s story is heartfelt and tragic. He became addicted to his work and his quest for knowledge, distancing himself from family. As a result, he has a daughter he hasn’t spoken to in years.  He knows where she is, but stops short of reaching out. This is a major shortcoming that comes around again by the end of the issue, although not in an entirely satisfactory fashion. In the end, he has to make a sacrifice in order to save the world which is noble, but doesn’t excuse his actions as a deadbeat dad.

I’ve been a fan of Brett Booth’s artwork since Rebirth began. His pencils are full of energy, especially when they depict Wally West. The character bursts across the page with lightning crackling around him, as if he’s about to run right out of the comic. All the while, Wally sports a smile as he relishes in his speed, even when he’s facing crazy villains like Killg%re.

This extends to the colors from Andrew Dalhouse and Pete Pantazis too. Wally’s lightning is a glowing white, crackling with energy. It contrasts nicely with the stark red of his costume and the bright orange of his hair, flowing back as he runs. Later on, these bright colors serve as a shining beacon of hope when Wally and Blanc end up in the bleak dystopian future.

There are a whopping five inkers on the Flash / Speed Buggy Special. For the most part, this doesn’t affect the overall reading experience, but there are some sequences that suddenly look like a different art style. This can get a little jarring at times.

Wally is put in an interesting position in this one-shot as he has to advise Blanc against tampering with the Speed Force. He makes the argument that the speedsters got their powers organically, not by forcing the issue. I think this is a little weak as we don’t really know all that much about the Speed Force in general. We know it’s dangerous and unpredictable. To a scientist like Blanc, that’s like bait.

The crossover one-shot closes with a race, because that’s what speedsters do when they get together. I was a little confused because my personal favorite speedster, Bart Allen is there and to my knowledge, he hasn’t appeared in the post-Rebirth titles outside of a future version in the “Super Sons of Tomorrow” storyline. Please let this mean he’s coming back in some shape or fashion.

The Flash / Speed Buggy Special provides a darker origin to Speed Buggy, but not to the point where it’s a grim and gritty reboot of the character. I don’t know that he’d totally fit in with the Flash Family as something like a talking car just seems a little too out there for some reason. I can’t explain why I draw the line at talking cars and not the million other weird things that pop up in comics. Writer Scott Lobdell balances the fun, childlike wonder of an old Hanna Barbera cartoon with the serious tone of a life and death super hero comic. It’s an odd combination, but it works well.

The Flash / Speed Buggy Special #1 is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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