Unsurprisingly, these successful shows have inspired their own spin-off series in various forms, the latest being the Crossover Crisis trilogy by Barry Lyga. I was given a chance to have a look at the first book, The Flash Crossover Crisis: Green Arrow’s Perfect Shot, thanks to Abrams Books and its imprint responsible for the book series, Amulet.

So, as with everything else I’ve ever reviewed, let’s start with the design! I really like the way this book looks–it isn’t a graphic novel, it is a YA novel, but it has the pizzazz of a graphic novel. I learned that César Morenothe cover illustrator, has an extensive background with producing covers and posters for comic book series, so it makes sense. He also has done the covers for several other The Flash series novels that Lyga has written, so he definitely knows his stuff.

The inside of this book seems as though it was put together just as carefully. Although the Flash has the big name on the cover, the inside of the cover is Green Arrow’s forest green. Every page of the actual story has a lightning bolt design, with the beginnings of chapters dominated by lightning bolts radiating from the chapter number. This is used to great effect during the climax of the book when the design is switched up a little (the normally white page is colored black, while the design and words still stand out in gray and against a white text box, respectively). The care in design is also evident in the “To be continued…” teaser page, where the lightning bolts rush across the page, as if the Flash has just run by, already onto his next adventure.

The book is set up in something of a comic book format: although it’s primarily in text, we still get things like “the story thus far” in the beginning, a teaser for the next volume, and so on. These are also nice touches and makes the book easier to pick up for readers new to or not very familiar with the Flash.

A strength the book has is easing readers into the Flash’s universe. I’m more familiar with the Flash in his animated ventures, so I appreciated the economic explanations for things that appeared to be tied in with both his and Green Arrow’s respective live-action shows. Towards the climax, there were a couple of new elements introduced quickly that I had trouble keeping up with, but not being too familiar with either live-action show, I’m not quite the target audience for this story. I imagine that a fan of the related shows wouldn’t have this problem at all.

Nonetheless, I found the story a fun venture–it really does feel like a comic put to text, keeping the usual vigor and excitement, with an unfolding mystery that I could imagine as a regular comic story very easily. It involves mirror universes overlapping, with different villains (who are seen as heroes in their brutish worlds and are identical to certain heroes in our Flash and Green Arrow’s world) appearing in Central City with the help of a dimensional rift, along with thousands of multiverse refugees. They are harbingers for even bigger troubles in both this and presumably later books in the trilogy.

The Flash and Green Arrow in Legends of Today
This isn’t the first time the heroes have lent each other a hand, either! (‘The Flash,’ “Legends of Today”)

Although that is more or less the main plot, there’s also a lot going on in B and C stories that also have to do with the alternate worlds interacting to some extent. The story never flags and it never feels overwhelming, either: it seems that, for the most part, action-heavy or high-tension moments are balanced with just as important, but more leisurely-paced chapters. Leisurely compared to the Flash’s normal pace, of course. To be honest, it’s what I would consider the “B” story–featuring Brie Larvan’s bees and her brother–that has me the most intrigued for the next two The Flash Crossover Crisis books. There’s something about those robo-bees! The multiverse villains also tease a bigger story that will come to a head for the patient that makes you want to stick with things, not to mention the book’s actual teaser which names Supergirl as a player in book two.

One thing I noticed and appreciated was that Lyga does not appear to talk down to his audience. The book is officially classified as YA by Abrams and Amulet Books. Sometimes this means that existing stories are repackaged and reduced to the simplest terms. Lyga does not seem to be afraid of challenging his target audience and regularly throws high school vocabulary in as well as high school math (to his credit, he takes the reader through the math as succinctly and clearly as one probably can, though it still filled me with dread because, you know, math). He is also great at presenting examples to explain these ideas, again, without talking down to the reader. He just nudges them along. It’s a hard thing to balance, but Lyga manages it.

Another upside–or possibly downside, depending on how you look at it–of this book is that I found it a relatively fast read. As I said earlier, I found it as vibrant as reading actual comics, and sat down with it in the same way, reading it in just two or three longish sessions. A recurring thought was that if the book was a comic, I would already be waiting for the next issue to continue the story. I was glad I didn’t have to wait for that! (Although, of course, I have to wait for the next book in the series.) The upside is that there are several other Flash books by Lyga to tide a reader over while waiting for the next The Flash Crossover Crisis, as well as a related Supergirl series by Jo Whittemore.

The Flash Crossover Crisis: Green Arrow's Perfect Shot

All in all, this was an enjoyable book that reminded me why I had liked the Flash so much when I was actively watching Justice League or other DC property-cartoons that featured him. Although the Green Arrow was also in these shows, I don’t recall paying much attention to him, and I now feel like I ought to go back and give him a fair shot; he seems like an interesting character as well.

I also think this would be a great book for reluctant readers, as well as regular readers in its target audience. As I said, I like that it doesn’t talk down to its target readers, and it’s exciting enough that I think readers won’t mind having to look up a few words or suss out a concept on their own. (I only hope that I’m not the one a kid asks about the math!)

The Flash Crossover Crisis: Green Arrow’s Perfect Shot by Barry Lyga will be hitting bookstore shelves on August 13. It is currently available for preorder.

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