[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Christian Duce
Colors: Luis Guerrero
Letters: Steve Wands
On your mark, get set and go for part one of “Grips of Strength”! Barry Allen races to the House of Heroes at the center of the Multiverse to meet with the Flashes of 52 worlds for info on the new forces he’s recently encountered. Meanwhile, back in Central City, Trickster’s turning informant against Warden Wolfe, but that brings about a sneak attack that Barry and the time-lost Commander Cold must team up to stop—if they can quit butting heads long enough to do so.
This issue starts with a disturbing variation of the usual prologue, “My name is Barry Allen. And I’m no longer the fastest man alive.” On the face of it, Barry is talking about the damage done to the Speed Force during the Flash War storyline. However, on a deeper level, it echoes the revelation that Wally is the faster Flash than his mentor.
Barry has come to the Hall of Heroes, where he is addressing several of the multiverse’s speedsters – many of which are alternate Flashes. We aren’t introduced to them all, but there are a number of familiar faces here from Elseworlds stories or Multiversity. The Kingdom Come Flash, the Tangent Flash, and even the title character from Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Flash are in attendance. I found this particularly amusing as I had just been talking about these last two with other members of the DC Comics News staff.
Unfortunately, none of the other speedsters in the universe have any experience to math Barry’s and have never heard of the Still, Strength, or Sage Forces. Barry resigns himself to figuring out the science of these new forces, but the cowboy Flash (from Elseworlds tale Justice Riders) tell Barry that, “It’s not about the science, pardner. You just can’t learn about it from some book.”
And then Fastback (from Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew) of all people offers a bit of sage advice. He recommends that Barry go on a ‘Force Quest’ to “explore your world and really learn about [the Speed Force]. Barry feels he has too many responsibilities to go on any quest, so he ignores this device. However, the idea of a Force Quest seems fascinating, and I would be surprised if Williamson does not have Barry embarking on such a quest in the near future.
Back on his own Earth, Barry is having trouble accepting Commander Cold’s assistance in fighting crime in Central City. Barry is uneasy around Cold, and he finds it hard to work with someone using the same modus operandi of one of his greatest foes.
Iris also speaks of her odd memories and the difficulty she has coping with two sets of memories. She doesn’t tell Barry, but it appears one thing she remembers from her pre-Flashpoint days is her and Barry’s wedding. Perhaps Williamson is foreshadowing that Barry and Iris will be marrying – or that their marriage will be reinstated into DC canon. Ether way, I would be pleased to see them return to being husband and wife.
Also, the villains Commander Cold and the Flash face somewhat resemble Darkseid’s foot soldiers, but call themselves Para-Angels instead of Parademons. We don’t learn much about them this issue, but it would be interesting to see if these new villains are connected to Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, or if this is a coincidental resemblance.
After last issue’s wrap up of the Flash War story arc, I was hoping for at least some update on Wally, or at least a hint of what lied ahead for him. But other than a brief name-check, Wally is entirely absent from the story. It looks like we will have to wait until next month’s Heroes In Crisis to see more of Wally’s story.
And it’s just cruel of to show us the return of Bart Allen, and then leave that plot thread dangling. I’m sure most readers are eager for Williamson to delve into this plotline, but Impulse is completely absent from this issue. I’m sure he’s coming soon, but I hope we don’t have to wait too long.
The Flash War storyline was amazing, but things aren’t slowing down any for the Flash now that it’s over with. This issue hints that Barry still has plenty enough trouble ahead to keep him busy and to keep us readers entertained. Reading the Flash hasn’t been this much fun since Mark Waid was writing Wally’s adventures in the nineties.