Writer: Mike Baron
Artists: Jackson Guice & Larry Mahlstedt
Vandal Savage made his appearance last issue, but here he's the main attraction. I'm not sure, but I think this might have been Savage's post-Crisis reintroduction. The problem is that Baron can't quite seem to make Savage - or at least this version of Savage - fit into what he's trying to do.
I think that super-hero comics are always full of elements that "don't fit". One of the jobs of the super-hero auteur is to make it seem like they fit, whether through sheer force of artistic personality (the Jack Kirby-Frank Miller approach) or some kind of narrative sleight-of-hand (the approach taken by John Broome or Grant Morrison or Roy Thomas). What's a little strange about Baron struggling with this here is that he had licked this problem in Nexus and, it seems (I say seems because I'm just starting to read it for the first time), Badger. I'd like to know whether or not using Vandal Savage was something editorial forced on him or if Baron thought he could work some of that Badger/Ham magic.
But it never really comes together. Savage is a major villain, but he comes off here as a two-bit operator. That was often part of the charm of Bronze and Silver Age comics, but the gestures Baron has been making towards day-in-the-life-of realism aren't compatible with it. Baron lays on the mumbo jumbo and he seems to almost give up on trying to write evocative dialogue. Here's an exchange between Savange and Flash:
Savage: "I cannot die, therefore I kill."
Flash: "I don't understand."
Savage: "You do not live long enough to understand."
I don't like to pick on dialogue, especially out-of-context like this. Comics are a visual medium and the important question is always whether or not it works visually. But this little snippet sticks out because it is so much worse than any of the other writing in the series up to this point. I take it as more evidence that Baron just didn't know what to do with Savage.
I did like the final fight though, which features Frances Kane using her magnetic powers to TK a fork into Savage's face. You go girl! The fight and the issue end somewhat anti-climatically. Savage isn't really defeated: it's more like he had enough and decided to split.
Baron keeps up some of the motifs from the first issue: there's still a focus on Flash's health/biology/metabolism - he keeps going back to the hospital.
But in other areas, realism is completely hand waved. Like: Flash is supposed to be an ace hacker. I can't recall that this little element ever popped up again. (But I guess we'll see).
No commentary on this issue would be complete without mentioning that Wally wears the most Godawful ugly purple suit when he goes out dancing.