Review: THE FLASH #71
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
Letters: Steve Wands
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Flash #71: “The Flash Year One” continues! Barry Allen struggles to control his powers as he experiments with his newfound abilities. When one of his tests lands him in a mess, he’ll come face to face with his first villains!
Rather ironically for a story about the beginnings of Barry Allen’s career, The Flash #71 takes us to Barry’s latter days. Time travel has always been a staple of Barry’s adventures, and Joshua Williamson delivers the story of Barry’s first trip to another time.
There Barry meets a much older and wiser version of himself, who has seen all that lies ahead in Barry’s future. Unfortunately, as in most time travel stories, the future Barry is unable reveal much to his younger self to avoid creating a paradox. However, much like an oracle, he gives a few cryptic hints.
I was very happy to see that the future Barry has at some point moved past the pessimistic outlook that Barry has been struggling with in this series. When Barry states that he knew he’d somehow “screw everything up”, his older self replies, “God. I can’t believe I was ever that pessimistic.”
On the contrary, the older Barry rejoices in the amazing life he has led. “The life ahead of you is awesome… There were hard days, but I loved every second of it,” he tells us. His only regret seems to be that “it went by too fast.” Could this optimistic outlook be the what Steadfast wants Barry to remember? Or is it something else?
The Turtle has been established as a Still Force avatar recently, but the idea of him having an obsession with stealing speed energy is interesting. This makes sense if you consider the Speed and Still Forces to be opposites in the same way as heat and cold. Cold is the absence of heat, and something that is cold draws the heat out of its surroundings, making them cold. Likewise, the Turtle sucks speed out of others, making them still.
Fittingly for a Flash origin story, there are several nods to Flash and DC history. First, there is the story title “The Flash of Two Timelines”, which references the classic story “The Flash of two worlds. Also, the splash page shows the two Flashes standing either side of a familiar brick wall that evokes the cover image from that classic story.
Also, there are a number of interesting artifacts in the Turtles hoard of treasures: Robby Reed’s H-Dial, Blue Devil’s trident, Wonder Woman’s shield, Doctor Fate’s helmet, and other items from DCU history.
One thing we see here is a sign for Gambi Cleaners, which is of particular interest. Especially since Barry passes the actual business when returning to the present. Paul Gambi, brother of Peter Gambi in Black Lightning, was the tailor who created costumes for the Rogues Gallery. Perhaps he will be returning as part of this storyline.
Plus, we once again see the Cosmic Treadmill, an important part of Barry’s time travel adventures in the Silver Age. And Williamson also provides us an explanation as to why the Flash requires the treadmill: while the Flash can time travel without out, the Treadmill gives him much more precision. Otherwise, small mistake while travelling could cause him to be off by hundreds of years.
While Williamson is adding new layers to Barry’s origin story, he is clearly respecting the history of the character, reincorporating bits from the Silver and Bronze age comics. Williamson’s love for the Flash’s history shows in this story.
I can’t really find anything to fault in this installment. So far, Year One is proving to be the story I’ve been waiting for since the dawn of the Rebirth era. Hopefully, it will continue to do so.
For a while now, there has been a war going on in the DCU of light against dark. In Justice League, the conflict is Justice vs. Doom, but in The Flash, the battle is one of pessimism vs. optimism, and pessimism has held the upper hand for quite a while now. I’ve always felt that Barry Allen represented the optimistic soul of the DCU, and we seem to be reaching a turning point in the battle. The Flash is a title that every DC fan should be reading right now.