[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona
Colours: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Steve Wands
“THE PRICE” finale! The two greatest detectives in the DC Universe take on the one cold case that will tear them apart!
As chief architect of the Sanctuary program that cost so much for so many, especially Wally West, Batman will be held accountable…by the Flash!
A cold case from the Justice League’s past has mysteriously re-opened, and Batman and the Flash—the only two heroes who stand a chance of cracking the case—are at each other’s throats! Our heroes must combat a demon from the past while burying their own inner demons in the process…and neither the World’s Greatest Detective nor the Fastest Man Alive will ever be the same again! But who is really pulling the strings here? And how does Gotham Girl fit into all this? Friendships will be tested and blood will be spilled in this titanic crossover event…
“The Price” seems to be the diametric opposite of the “The Button”, but this second crossover between The Flash and Batman is no less powerful or touching a story. “The Button” followed out of the DC Universe: Rebirth, giving it an undercurrent of optimism. It even implied the imminent return of the original Flash Jay Garrick.
However, “The Price” follows after the tragic events of Heroes In Crisis, giving the story a much more pessimistic edge. And where “The Button” promised the return of lost Flash, this story follows the loss of another Flash, Wally West.
While it is rather disheartening to see Barry’s friendship with Bruce stressed this way, I do find it relatable. Co-workers in stressful jobs do go through rough patches – especially when one co-worker is seen to have screwed up and put his co-workers in danger.
It is very touching when we realize that Barry is more angry with himself than he is at Batman. He lashes out at Batman for putting Gotham Girl and others in danger by encouraging them to be heroes, but the root of that complaint is that he feels guilty for likewise encouraging Wally to follow his own example.
I like that the story still makes clear that despite any animosity or guilt between them, neither hero compromises their commitment to help others. Both work together to protect Central City’s citizenry from Gotham Girl. And when Gotham Girl needs saving, Barry doesn’t hesitate to help Batman do so.
I also like seeing that despite his emotional turmoil, Barry still maintains a sense of humour. Knowing that Gotham Girl is obsessed with being a hero, Barry informs of the primary rule of being a hero: “Don’t kill Batman!”
I find the hints about the upcoming “Year of the Villain” event dropped in the epilogue intriguing. For some reason, Superman and Batman are unable to know which heroes they can trust – even each other. And when Superman asks “We can trust Flash, right?”, Batman’s lack of response speaks volumes about their damaged friendship. Hopefully the trials that await them will offer them an opportunity to repair their friendship.
Although it’s understandable that Barry might harbour anger at Bruce for Wally’s death, I find it somewhat unfair. So far, there is a lot unknown about the deaths at Sanctuary. With the murderer’s identity still unknown and how they managed to circumvent the safeguards Batman designed, it remains to be seen how much blame can be put on Bruce for negligence. I would expect Barry to be better able to control his anger until he knows for sure that Batman bears any of the blame.
However, one of the things I like about Williamson’s run is the recurring theme that Barry is as fallible as any other human, and that he’s not the idealized version that Wally had always seen him as. So, Barry’s anger is forgivable if he can work through it to eventually forgive Bruce and direct it at Wally’s killer, whoever that may turn out to be.
I have been a fan of Williamson’s run on The Flash, it has given us some powerful stories. Even though I hate the fact that DC has killed off Wally, it has led to some truly great stories as Barry, Iris, and other DC characters learn to cope with this tragedy. However, I do hope that Barry gets through this rough patch in his life and we get to see some happy stories as well.