Let’s be clear: what the title refers to as “Season Zero” is really “Unfilmed filler stories taking place during Season One.” Far from a criticism, that synopsis is meant to signal fans of the CW network series that if they like the show, they will find more of their favorite elements in action on the page. Barry Allen’s life as a forensic scientist often takes fantastic turns into the superheroic as he uses his powers of super-speed as The Flash to combat crimes both human and superhuman. The stories collected in this edition started as digital-first chapters that were then collected in print issues, now bound in one 12-issue trade collection. The variety of story lengths makes this a The Flash anthology more than anything, with the seven tales in this collection varying in length from 10 to 80 pages.
As with the television show, the comics tend to follow the story beats of a super-powered police procedural, with Barry discovering threats that only he and his scientifically brilliant team at STAR Labs can solve. Each story provides a variety of character moments for Barry’s team, from the geeky jokes of computer whiz Cisco to the reserved, serious Caitlin. One short story follows Barry as he tries to kick back with his adoptive father Joe, but is pulled away by pressing emergencies around the world. It’s the sort of story that reinforces the notion of the noble superhero, the put-upon hero who sacrifices his personal time to make a difference in the hopes that he not only saves lives but inspires others to make a positive impact, too. As noted above, these are filler episodes, designed to fit within the structure of the TV show without advancing much. The two stories that make the strongest impression revolve around Caitlin and feature a forsaken science experiment gone wrong and her university mentor. The worst chapter is a short story about two villains with opposite temperaments who team up and the police look forward to The Flash helping to take them down. It ends with a dud just as the conflict begins.
Characters are generally illustrated as streamlined caricatures of their televised actors, which doesn’t mean much in the way of detail but, combined with simple layouts and a constant dash of The Flash as a red bolt on the page, means easy visual flow. These details are by design: as a digital-first comic, this series was planned for short reading sessions and compatible configuration within digital comics apps. These aren’t sophisticated pages, but readers won’t get turned around, either. Kelsey and Nick Filardi’s colors go a long way toward forming a visual standard for each scene and character. Cameos from Felicity, from the TV show Arrow, take on a bright pink hue, while a mind-bending supervillain’s scenes glow with secondary purple, green, and orange colors.
In general, I would recommend this comic for fans of The Flash, whether or not they’ve seen the TV show. The comics format lets the storytellers go weird in a way television budgets probably don’t allow, including a story about a humanoid shark joining the Suicide Squad, an encounter with a giant spider, and a woman with a glowing skeleton. I would classify these comics as kid-friendly, with scenes of violence comparable to the Adventures of Superman cartoons from the ’90s. The danger in these stories never outweighs the optimism and fun, and The Flash’s brand of superheroics is the kind that understandably draws a wide crowd.
The Flash: Season Zero
by Andrew Kreisberg, Brooke Eikmeier, Katherine Walczak, Marc Guggenheim, Kai Yu Wu, Lauren Certo, Ben Sokolowski, Sterling Gates
Art by Marcus To, Phil Hester, Eric Gaspur, Ibrahim Moustafa