Review: THE FLASH #81
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Scott Kolins
Colours: Luis Guerrero
Letters: Steve Wands
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Flash #81: “The Hunter and the Hunted” part two! This is one issue you cannot miss! The last gasp of the Speed Force! Can Barry Allen and Hunter Zolomon work together long enough to beat death and save the Speed Force? Can Kid Flash and Avery, the Flash of China, discover what the Rogues want within the wreckage of Iron Heights? Even if the Flash survives, nothing will ever be the same again for the Flash family!
In The Flash #81, Williamson concludes his Death and the Speed Force storyline, dovetailing the story into the Year of the Villain event by setting up Barry’s impending fight against the powered up Rogues Gallery.
I really like that instead of beating Zoom by force, he talks some sense into him, bringing him back to the side of Justice. Barry uses the Forever Force to reveal that the Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne, also manipulated Hunter Zolomon’s past to put him on the path towards Doom.
Barry convinces Zoom to help him restore the barrier between the Speed Force and the other New Forces. However, Zolomon chooses to sacrifice himself to restore the barrier. In his last moments, he offers a touching apology, “Tell Wally I’m sorry. I wish he and I could have stayed friends.”
He also charges Barry with the task, “Find Eobard Thawne! Find out why he did this to us! The real reason.” Barry now has the mystery of Thawne’s motivations on top of everything he is currently dealing with.
The Black Flash, enraged by the loss of his target, turns on Barry. But Barry manages to escape the Forever Force before it collapses, trapping the Black Flash. However, it seems that his encounter with the Black Flash has had a negative effect on the Speed Force. As Steadfast states, “The Speed Force is… broken.”
This happens at the worst possible moment for Kid Flash and the Flash of China, leaving them at the mercy of the Rogues. If that’s not bad enough, this is the exact moment that Perpetua and the Legion of Doom defeat the forces of Justice.
This sets Barry and the Flash-Family up for the fight of their lives, with the Speed Force damaged, facing an overpowered Rogues Gallery. And the readers are left wondering if Barry’s recently regained hopefulness will endure in a universe given over to Doom.
This issue is nearly impeccable, but I am confused about one thing. The appearance of Perpetua’s symbol of Doom in the sky places this issue as concurrent with the events of Justice League #34. But Barry is also in that issue. Clearly, time travel is involved, as in that book, he is in the DCU’s past with the Justice Society.
But, what is the sequence of events from Barry’s perspective. Is his participation in the Justice/Doom War in his future, or has it already happened. His presence in both books isn’t impossible, but it is difficult to figure out. Time travel really complicates a story.
Once again Williamson has provided a great story, setting the Flash and his friends for a truly epic conflict with the Rogues. Also, I love Scott Kolins artwork. His style really suits the world of the Flash and brings Williamson’s story to life. The Flash #34 is proof that The Flash is back on track as one of DC’s finest titles.