Joe’s Comics/Image Comics 2013
Created & Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrated by Tom Mandrake
Coloured by HiFi
Recently Julia helped reveal Barry’s new alter ego to the world as the villain Sidekick, while the Red Cowl, in hiding, begins to suspect that someone is tracking him.
After publicly reenacting the death of the Red Cowl, Julia comes to Barry seeking to be a balm to what she thinks is a fractured psyche, only to discover...Barry has a terrible secret he has not yet revealed.
Holy Smokes everything I’ve thought about what has been happening here has in one fell swoop been turned upside down and on it’s ear! Straczynski has gone and put one hell of a plot twist into play here that blew me away. I mean i’ve really been enjoying the way we’ve seen Julia manipulate Barry and turn him from the Red Cowl’s sidekick to his worst enemy. Granted along the way we’ve seen the difficulty Barry’s had in making the transition from kid sidekick to hero in his own right and I thought that perhaps that had wrecked havoc on his psyche. Not getting the respect he thought he deserved or craved and not being the Red Cowl’s beloved replacement when he was thought dead it’s been a long and dark road for Barry.
The characterization and Julia’s affects on him have been beautifully portrayed and now that Julia’s beginning to feel guilty for her actions it’s time for Barry’s never before revealed origin to be told. Before we get into that I love that Julia is having the whole revenge isn’t so sweet and what have I done to you moment and if she really does love him then well this shouldn’t change that one bit.
We literally go back to Barry’s beginning, his birth as we get our first glance at his parents during the delivery. Then we skip ahead to when he’s maybe six years old and he’s chasing butterflies and uhm well not on the ground. This sends his parents into a frenzy as they meet with a professional and the answers for meta-persons aren’t known and how Barry got his powers well it’s like finding out one side of the family, or both, have that disgusting gene no one wants to talk about be it the “gay” or “diseased” stuff that brings shame upon the family.
Their reaction to Barry’s abilities set the stage for the life he’s going to live and the man he’s destined to become. Though before the meeting with the expert is over we do learn there’s a school for kids like Barry where they learn to control their powers and blend in and lead normal lives so there’s a whole new world of possibilities in this world they live in. The way his life story unfolds from there is one mind you know what. Everything that he has to go through up to the point where it looks like he’s going to meet the Red Cowl is nothing you can actually prepare yourself for. It’s this kind of writing that makes Straczynski such a stand out.
Tom’s interiors just go from this extreme of happy child to disgruntled teen with all kinds of family problems, well the way his parents think anyway, coupled with such vivid backgrounds and the introduction of the Surgeon and his lair well his work runs the gamut here it’s brilliantly done and really helps keep the suspense and drama of the words at the forefront.
This book really has been one of those rare reads that you never saw coming and the fact that it’s been taken to a whole place just reaffirms why we wait and read Straczynski’s work. Definitely worth the wait!