[Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Carmine Giandomenico
This issue picks up shortly after a Speed Force storm has given dozens of Central City citizens super speed powers like the Flash. First, we see Barry and his new partner, August Heart, stopping a trio of new speedsters using their abilities to rob a bank.
They then take the would-be supervillains to be incarcerated in Iron Heights. August realizes something about the prison makes Barry uneasy, so Barry confides that it’s because Professor Zoom is imprisoned there, and tells him the whole story of the conflict between him and Zoom.
Then Barry and August head over to S.T.A.R. Labs to check out their new training facility for Central City’s booming speedster population. Here they meet Dr. Meena Dhawan, the S.T.A.R. scientist in charge, who also is a new speedster herself. Also, there seems to be some flirtatious interplay between Barry and Meena – a new rival for Iris, maybe?
Dr. Dhawan assures the Flash that they only intend to help these speedsters and not to use them as research guinea pigs. Also, we are shown a few new facts about the rash of new speedsters: none of them are as fast as Barry, many have different powers from the Speed Force from Barry and each other. We can also add to this Barry’s revelation that he is slightly slower from sharing the Speed Force with the rest of these speedsters.
Following this, there’s a brief interlude with Iris and Wally West (the younger) trying to get information from Central City’s crime lab about the organization known as the Black Hole. Wally learns that Iris had almost been kidnapped by this group and is worried for his aunt, and expresses in his narration that he “needs to be the fastest kid alive” – definitely a hint that he’s getting close to reaching his destiny as the new Kid Flash.
Next, Barry and Meena visit a teen speedster who is unable to slow down to normal human speed. Barry shows her how to stay grounded in the here and now by concentrating on the things and people that she loves. This is a nice callback to the recurring theme introduced during Wally West’s (the elder) tenure as the Flash that love is what keeps Speed Force users grounded.
Finally, Barry and Meena return to Iron Heights to extend the offer of training to the bank robbing speedsters from the start of the issue, but find that they and August have been attacked by the new villain Godspeed. August reveals to Barry that Godspeed uses the Speed Force as a weapon. However, we have to wait until the next issue to find out what that means.
This issue has so many little touches that really add to the story without distracting from the plot. For example, Barry mentions that August probably likes taking down the bank robbers more than he should, reminding us that August and Barry have a major philosophical difference about how to use their powers that will have to be addressed at some point, without having to waste pages arguing.
Another neat little touch is a single panel showing the Rogues Gallery reacting to the news of multiple speedsters in Central City by deciding that maybe they should leave town until things settle down.
Last issue, I stated that the issue seemed only tangentially connected to the Rebirth event despite having the Rebirth branding. With this issue, I can see the connection. The title is starting to restore the optimism that is at the core of the character, and Rebirth is about returning the DC characters to their core characteristics. This is especially evident in the use of love as the anchor for Speed Force users, which as I said hearkens back to the Wally West era of Flash history.
Also, I loved the off-handed mention that there is occasional talk of building a museum in his honour. Newer readers may not remember, but the Flash Museum in Central City was a staple in the Flash comics from the Silver Age through to the pre-Flashpoint adventures of the Wally West Flash.
Not a lot to complain about this issue. I’m hoping that the sudden influx of speedsters is a temporary thing, though, and that most or all of the new speedsters go back to normal. It’s an interesting idea to see how Barry copes with all these speedsters, but in the long run, but I don’t know that I like the idea of him being one among several speedsters.
Also, it would be nice to get back to the overarching Rebirth storyline. Has Barry been investigating further into the clues given in the Rebirth special? Has he followed up with Batman or Wally to see if they’ve uncovered anything new? Hopefully we’ll get back to this sooner rather than later.
Not only is this a solid story in itself, we are starting to see the Flash returning to the core characteristics that make him great: honesty, decency, optimism, and the pure joy he has in helping people both as a superhero and as a police scientist.