Review: The Flash #4

[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Carmine Giandomenico

This issue starts with Barry at S.T.A.R. Labs, teaching Central City’s new speedsters in the ways of the Speed Force. Barry is a bit bemused at his new role as teacher, but is impressed at how well his students are progressing.


Dr. Meena Dhawan then takes Barry aside to explain how Godspeed had managed to steal the Speed Force from last issue’s would-be bank robbers. It turns out that the new speedsters haven’t made a permanent connection to the Speed Force yet, so when two of them use their powers near each other, then the Speed Force of both combines and goes with whichever is faster. Essentially, it’s a race, and the winner drains the Speed Force from the loser.

August Heart, Barry’s new speedster partner, enters to bring Barry information about August’s encounter with Godspeed. He also warns Barry that he’s been neglecting his role as police scientist. Barry agrees, but feels he is needed more at S.T.A.R. Labs.

Iris arrives, bringing the information that Dr. Carver from the Black Hole group had been fired from S.T.A.R. Labs for doing research into weaponizing the Speed Force.

Barry and Meena track Dr. Carver down and find that although he is not Godspeed, he has built what he calls “The Speed Machine” to tap into the Speed Force and feed it into his own body. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make him into a speedster, but rather into a mindless Speed Force monster.

At that moment, August appears in costume along with two trainee speedsters. Flash tells the trainees to evacuate civilians, while Flash, Meena, and August attempt to use the principles Meena described earlier to drain Carver of the Speed Force. This works and Carver is stopped, but Carver’s lab was destroyed in the process.

Then we get a short interlude featuring Wally West – not the other Flash featured in Titans, but his younger cousin of the same name. It turns out that the Speed Force storm has affected his connection to the Speed Force, and he is shown considering S.T.A.R. Labs offer of help to Central City’s speedsters.

Then we cut back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where Barry and Meena share a kiss, and Barry decides to reveal a major secret to her, which I won’t spoil here.

The Positives

Once again, I must say how happy I am with Barry’s suit redesign. It is itself an expression of DC’s Rebirth mission: return to the heart of the old, but keep moving forward with the new. The costume bears a strong resemblance to the classic Silver Age outfit, but still maintains some elements of the New 52 redesign. It simultaneously gives a nod to the past and looks ahead to the future.


Also, it looks like we may have a love triangle developing here. Barry and Meena seem to be moving towards a relationship, but Iris is still being kept as a central part of the book. Add to this the hint that one of the things rebirth is doing is to restore the lost relationships of the DCU: Superman and Lois Lane, Green Arrow and Black Canary, Wally West (the elder) and Linda Park. Barry and Iris are also an iconic couple, which doesn’t bode well for the longevity of a relationship between Barry and Meena.


The Negatives

DC, you’re killing me! I keep hoping for any scrap of information or hint about the central Rebirth storyline, but there doesn’t appear to be any this issue. However, the Rebirth philosophy of returning the heart to the DC Universe is very evident.

While it was nice seeing Barry in the role of Speed Force guru, imparting wisdom to the less experienced speedsters, it sort of reminded me of the absence of Jay Garrick and Max Mercury. Hopefully they will reappear in some way or other as the Rebirth era continues.

Also, it seems as if it’s about time DC did something about the two Wally’s sharing a name. Maybe the younger Wally could start using “Wallace” or whatever his middle name is.

Speaking of Wally (the elder), I hope he will return to this title occasionally, as well as appearing in Titans. Ideally, I’d like to see him in his own title, but I’d like to see him getting reacquainted with Barry here as well. Also, he could serve as a mentor for the younger Wally as well.

The Verdict

The Rebirth ethos is evident in this issue,  even if the events are tangential to the Rebirth storyline – not just in Barry’s costume, but a generally more upbeat tone. Barry is at his core one of DC’s more upbeat and optimistic characters, and his return to that status is refreshing.


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.