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Flash Facts | Review

Flash Facts coverFlash Facts
Writers: Vita Ayala, Cecil Castellucci, Amy Chu, Amanda Deibert and others
Artists: Ile Gonzalez, Isaac Goodhart, Devyn Hansen, Dustin Hansen and others
DC Comics; $9.99

In Silver Age Flash comics, the scientist-turned-superhero would occasionally rattle off trivia or mini-lectures about some aspect of science that helped explain the feats he was doing with his super-speed, usually to his sidekick Kid Flash, the villain he was in the process of defeating, or the readers directly. He called these “Flash Facts,” and the phrase was pithy enough to survive for decades, although it was usually employed more tongue-in-cheek in more recent  years. It proves a pretty good organizing principle for a DC comic about science, though, like the new anthology Flash Facts.

The Flash himself only stars in two of the ten stories that make up the book. Each 12-page story is an admixture of fiction and non-fiction devoted to a particular area of science, and each is by a different creative team (actress/scientist Mayim Bialik edited the book and provides a foreword and afterword).

In the first story, by Sholly Fisch and Isaac Goodhart, The Flash explains the science of crime scene investigation (his secret identity Barry Allen’s day job is, after all, a police scientist). He returns later in a story by Michael Northrop and Yancey Labat, in which he and Kid Flash battle The Weather Wizard while talking about the melting of sea ice in Antarctica.

The eight Flash-less stories all tackle topics as diverse as how virtual reality works, where electricity comes from, and DNA, with a rather wide variety of DC superheroes acting as hosts, usually with one well-chosen character explaining that chapter’s concept to another. For example, shrinking scientist The Atom explains atoms and sub-atomic particles to magic-based heroine Mary Marvel in one story.

In addition to the wide variety of topics and characters, Flash Facts features a wide variety of art styles, with few chapters looking much like any other. There are, of course, a few that look like fairly straightforward (if quite accomplished) superhero comics, like those drawn by Labat, Goodhart, Andie Tong, Ile Gonzalez, and Gretel Lusky. And there are a few chapters that adopt the styles of particular versions of the characters, like a segment featuring Teen Titans Go!-style Beast Boy and Cyborg and another featuring the Super Hero Girls.

But there’s also Vic Regus’ toy-like trio of Batman, Alfred, and Plastic Man in a story about heat, and Yesenia Moises’ cute, story book-like versions of Aquaman and Mera in a story about underwater life, and Kirk Scroggs’ revisiting of Russell from his previous The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid graphic novel, in a story featuring Swamp Kid and Swamp Thing discussing human extremes.

So sure, come for the science and the superheroes, but stay for the art!

Included after the comics are a dozen or so pages featuring experiments and activities related to the subjects covered. An awful lot of work appears to have gone into the creation of this book, which credits, in addition to its editor and 20 creators, two educational experts and an educational reviewer, but it was all well worth while. It will be interesting to see if DC continues the premise into a second book, as there’s definitely a lot more science out there, and plenty of DC superheroes around to explain it.

Want to know more? Check out the review of Flash Facts and interview with the editor and writer Cecil Castellucci at SLJ.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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