Review: THE FLASH #86
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Colours: Arif Prianto, Hi-Fi
Letters: Steve Wands
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Flash #86: The Flash battles Captain Cold for the last time! The Rogues’ Reign is a brutal battle for power over Central City, but the tides are turning and the reign approaches a deadly end! With the Speed Force in chaos, can Glider help channel Flash’s powers long enough to overthrow her brother, Captain Cold?
in The Flash #86, the Flash’s confrontation with King Cold, formerly Captain Cold, comes to a head. Cold’s powers have been amplified, making him a more deadly threat than ever before.
Power has been a recurring theme in WIlliamson’s run on the Flash, mainly represented by the Speed Force, with Barry experiencing fluctuations in power-level and control. And in this issue, Barry learns a sharp lesson about losing control.
Leonard Snart’s situation mirrors Barry’s. Thanks to Lex Luthor, his control over cold is stronger than ever, but Cold has become embittered at years of having his crimes thwarted by the Flash. And when Barry still defeats him despite his enhanced power and control, Snart snaps. As Heat Wave puts it, “Holy– Len’s really lost it”, as Cold strikes out at full power, not caring who he hurts.
But Barry has a similar moment. He loses patience with Snart. Crackling with Speed Force energy, Barry beats Snart into unconsciousness, shouting that he’s “a joke! A pathetic, cold-hearted waste of life”. Barry is just barely able to regain control of himself, and we are left wondering if Barry would have beaten Cold to death.
This incident forces Barry to come to a realization: “The Speed Force is too dangerous. And until I can learn how to control myself… I belong in prison with the Rogues”. He then surrenders himself to the police.
This is an interesting development. Is there any prison that can keep Barry’s powers under control, especially in their heightened state? And will Kid Flash and the Flash of China join him in custody? And there’s also the legal ramifications. Can he have himself arrested if he’s not being charged with any crime? I suspect that is why the next issue blurb mentions Arkham Asylum. Maybe you cannot have yourself arrested for no reason, but you can have yourself committed.
I find it interesting that Cold’s powers actually serve to give Barry better control of his powers. We have seen in the past that Cold’s power can dampen the Speed Force. However, now that Barry’s powers are overcharged, Snart’s cold just brings them back down to a manageable level.
I also noticed in Cold’s account of his history of encounters with the Flash that he didn’t even see the Flash the very first time Barry put a stop to him. That made me wonder how many times over the years that criminals in Central City have been defeated without even knowing how it happened. Or for that matter, how many citizens have suddenly found themselves mysteriously rescued from danger. That must be quite confusing for them, especially for those who weren’t even aware they were in danger in the first place.
I do hope that Williamson doesn’t string out Barry’s struggle to regain control of the Speed Force for too long. It’s been a long hard struggle for Barry to come to terms with his powers, so it’s somewhat disheartening that he has been given another similar problem to overcome. I am quite confident that Barry will achieve complete mastery in the end, but this constant back and forth does get wearying.
The Flash has been one of my favourite titles of the Rebirth era. I think this is because Williamson seems to have a good grasp of the character of Barry Allen. Not just all the qualities that make him great, but also the weaknesses that make him human. Williamson’s entire run has been about Barry learning to come to grips with those weaknesses to become the best hero he can be.