Review: The Flash #54

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artist: Christian Duce

Colors: Luis Guerrero

Letters: Steve Wands

 

Summary

The Flash is now the strongest man alive thanks to a jolt from one of the new forces! Turning his jacked-up sights to Trickster, the two duke it out inside Iron Heights for utter supremacy. Will anyone stop these two behemoths from beating the hell out of each other…or is this just what Warden Wolfe wants?

 

Positives

The DC Universe seems to be headed for a major redefinition of the status quo. Doomsday Clock has been promised to get to the bottom of mystery of what happened after the Flashpoint to cause the New 52 reboot – and offer some resolution. Dark Nights: Metal, No Justice, and the Justice League titles speak of the Multiverse dying, the Source wall being destroyed, and the Totality having the potential to restore reality. And the DC Universe: Rebirth Special, and it’s follow-up storylines “The Button” and “Superman Reborn” have hinted that elements of pre-Flashpoint history may be coming back.

However, it seems to me that The Flash is the title that has been the most rife with hints that this redefinition of reality will strongly resemble the DCU as we knew it before Barry caused the Flashpoint.

Wally, Iris, and Barry all have some memories of their old lives – but once again we see that Iris remembers a major event in her and Barry’s story. Iris clearly remembers that she and Barry were husband and wife.

And in this issue, Barry mentions some of his old adventures that seem a bit odd: “Once I was turned into a puppet. Another time my brain grew to the point where it made my head huge.” These are incidents from DC’s Silver Age, and were presumably erased in the New 52 reboot, but Barry remembers them. Are these memories from his previous life, or are these events back in the canon?

And we see a character return that supposedly never existed in the New 52/Rebirth era – the original Trickster, James Jesse. Before the Flashpoint, James Jesse died and Axel Walker took his place in the Flash’s Rogues Gallery. But in the New 52, Axel Walker was apparently the original and only Trickster. But it appears James Jesse is back, which indicates that at least some of his history has been restored to DC canon.

The Flash, more than any other DC title, gives me hope that the post-Doomsday Clock era will restore much of the DCU’s lost history.

Barry’s partnership with Commander Cold continues to be a complicated one. Barry manages to see past Cold’s ruthless exterior and convinces Cold to help save the Trickster instead of the more expedient option of just killing him.

But once the danger is over, Barry berates Cold for attempting to kill him and the Trickster. He warns Cold to leave protecting Central City to him and focus on getting back to the future time he came from.

This also leads to an argument between Barry and Iris, who is trying to get Barry to learn to work with Cold. Iris senses that something is bothering Barry that he is hiding from her. But Barry also senses that Iris is hiding something from him. What Barry doesn’t know is that Iris is hiding her memories of their having been married in their pre-Flashpoint lives.

Barry figures how to use and defeat the Strength Force, and manages to banish it from Central City – for now at least. But Barry realizes he needs to figure out the Speed Force and the other related forces. Once again he recalls the advice of the Flashes of the Multiverse that he should embark on a Force Quest. Although he’s still putting it off, it is apparent that such a quest is in his near future.

I also must congratulate Christian Duce on his outstanding art. His art deftly conveys the kinetic action of the story, making it easy to follow what is happening. And it’s pleasing to the eyes to boot.

 

Negatives

I can understand Barry still being suspicious of Commander Cold, but he seems to me to be a bit too hostile to him, especially right after Barry had just managed to break through Cold’s unfeeling exterior and bring out a bit of Cold’s better nature. And why is he being so hostile with Iris? Iris is likely correct that something is bothering Barry, but it seems a bit uncharacteristic of Barry to take it our on Iris.

 

Verdict

It’s hard for me to pick a favourite title out of DC’s lineup considering all the great stuff they’re putting out. But I would definitely place The Flash in my top two or three. Williamson has re-established Barry Allen as a linchpin of the DC Universe.

 

 

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.