[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Gail Simone
Art: Clayton Henry
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Simon Bowland
Barry is spending his day off with some time in the library. He explains that as the Flash, TV and video games move too slow for him, but he can read at his own pace. He has to read something 3 times at super-speed for decent retention, but he finds this much more preferable than other relaxing pursuits. He also realizes that since becoming the Flash, he’s not not friends to speak of.
At Iron Heights, Heatwave is the latest Rogue to fall under the sway of the mysterious villain who controlled Mirror Master last issue. Heatwave’s family is threatened and he goes about boiling the Central City Bay. Barry, thinking about Iris, gives her a call. She happens to be on the scene of Heatwave’s offence and can’t talk to Barry. Flash soon appears at the boiling bay and handles Heatwave.
He catches up with Iris after getting a clue that Mirror Master and Heatwave’s crimes may be related.
Getting in Barry’s head with what it feels like to be the Flash, how speed affects his perception of TV, video games is perhaps the strongest element of this story. It makes Barry real and relatable. Throughout the story, Barry is shown to be distracted by thoughts of Iris. It’s not only enjoyable, but it makes the reader feel good for Barry that he’s got someone he’d like to have in his life.
When Barry finds books to be more enjoyable over TV and video games, it’s a nice bit of reverse thinking. As technology progresses, old-fashioned books seem to be losing their place, yet despite the Flash’s speed power which one would expect to be in line with a faster moving society, he turns to books. Simone also uses books as a point of dissimilarity between Barry and Heatwave, while Barry is reading them, over in Iron Heights, Heatwave has to burn some up in his escape.
Clayton Henry keeps things moving, showing speed effectively while also maintaining a clarity of Flash’s actions.
Don’t forget the wonderful Adam Strange reprint in this issue!
Despite Simone’s exploration of Barry’s thoughts and feelings, there’s a nagging feeling about this Flash. It’s not the same continuity of either the TV show or the comics which makes it unique, but a slightly unfamiliar as the reader isn’t sure what this Barry has been through. Reconciling the character in the lead story with the reprint story makes it a bit of a challenge as these two Barry’s have different histories.
Iris is shown as a woman of color in this lead story, which is in line with her depiction on the TV show, but in the very next story (the reprint from The Flash (2011) #9, Iris is just as white as Barry. I wonder how new readers would approach this book, would they question the identity of the characters?
All this makes things feel a little disjointed at this point, but not in a permanent state.
Simone gives a fun and insightful look into the mind of the Flash while also playing a little matchmaker. The big bad in the background gets no further attention, but it’s clear it’s going to be a serious challenge for Barry if this character can get the Rogues to do his bidding. A solid second chapter to this arc, it’s only a few steps away from bringing it all together. Perhaps, just getting Barry and Iris together will do the trick.