Review: The Flash #55

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

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artist: Scott Kolins

Colors: Luis Guerrero

Letters: Steve Wands

 

Summary

Barry Allen’s CSI team gets called to the scene of an arson at Iron Heights, and the victim happens to be a well-known Flash Rogue. Barry’s new partner thinks it’s an inside job, the warden sending a message to the inmates about who’s in charge. But the real culprit turns out to be the latest “Force” threat. Can the Flash and Commander Cold snuff this flaming mystery before it becomes an inferno?

 

Positives

I really like how Williamson is subverting expectations with these new forces. You would expect Barry to face the Turtle as the avatar of the Still Force, but instead Grodd is wields it against Barry (in the pages of Justice League). The Strength Force’s avatar was the Trickster rather than a villain with super strength. Similarly, you might think that the Thinker would be the obvious choice to wield the Sage Force, not Heat Wave.

However, the Sage Force seems to be taking on a fiery aspect, which seems to mesh with Mick Rory’s pyromaniac tendencies. Just as the Strength force is tied to gravity, it seems that the Sage Force is tied to fire.

If you haven’t read this week’s Heroes in Crisis #1 yet, you might want to stop reading now. Barry has a horrific version of an undead Wally West demanding, “Why did you let them take me?”, apparently referring to his being taken to the mysterious Sanctuary.

According to Heroes In Crisis, Wally is dead, but Barry doesn’t know that yet. But if Wally is really dead, then how and why is he appearing to Barry like this. I am hoping this means that Wally’s fate isn’t sealed yet.

Also, we get to see a brief scene of Barry helping the Justice League Dark fight against Solomon Grundy. It is hinted that something “weird” had attracted Grundy to Central City. Could this be connected to the mysterious new forces, or some other lurking threat?

This guest appearance of the Justice League Dark fits in with the supernatural theme of the issue. Barry recounts his feelings about Halloween, he also encounters the apparent ghost of Wally, and DC’s premier supernatural super-team.

It is an intriguing idea for the Barry to face a supernatural threat. The Flash mythos is based on science, and nearly all the threats he faces are also. Pitting Barry against a truly supernatural threat would put Barry well outside of his comfort zone. If such a threat is waiting in the wings, it could prove to be an interesting confrontation.

I also like the reference to Superman’s code phrase “Beef Bourguignon with ketchup”, which he uses to tell Lois she needs to cover for Clark while he attends to superhero business. Barry and Iris have developed a similar phrase about Barry’s “old track team” to refer to his activities as the Flash.

 

Negatives

Once again, there is nothing I can particularly point to as a negative. Williamson’s writing is a pleasure as always to read, and Scott Kolins art is top-notch as always.

 

Verdict

I have always liked any Flash comics, but I always saw it as secondary to the Batman and Superman titles, but under Williamson’s guidance, The Flash has moved to the forefront of the DC lineup, putting Barry up there with Clark and Bruce. I look forward to seeing where this current storyline is heading.

 

 

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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.