Review: THE FLASH #88
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
Letters: Steve Wands
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Flash #88: Witness the birth of Paradox! As a hero, the Flash helps as many people as he possibly can…but Paradox shows what happens when ordinary people pay the price for super-powered battles royale. What started as a happy life of family and science turned into a nightmare when the Turtle’s attack on Central City rained down from the future-and now the story of the civilians caught in the crossfire will change the Flash’s life forever!
In The Flash #88, Joshua Williamson presents us with the origin of Paradox. Paradox is the new major villain that Barry will face in the upcoming Flash Age storyline that will mark the 80th anniversary of The Flash. We have seen Paradox before, as a shadowy figure in the 25th Century, who had enlisted Godspeed as an accomplice.
We see Barry in a brief encounter, showing that Barry encountered the man who would become Paradox, shortly before getting his Speed Force powers. This minor incident serves to underscore that their fates are connected.
At this point, Paradox is a scientist who is working on his theory that reality is constantly changing, with no one realizing. My ears pricked up when I read this. History being changed in the DCU has been an ongoing theme since Per Degaton started messing with time in his conflicts with the Justice Society. Sometime theses are minor changes, or sometimes a Crisis or aFlashpoint completely redefines reality.
The instant Barry was struck by the lightning bolt that gave him his powers, is when Paradox first got a taste of the the power of the Multiverse’s time stream. This makes me wonder if his powers are connected to the Speed Force. Or is this just because Barry’s origin is a significant event that heavily affected the time stream?
The next major event to affect it is when Barry changed the timeline by defeating the Turtle during Year One. Due to his proximity to the fight and his connection to the Multiversal energy, Paradox was pulled outside of the timestream and away from his family.
Paradox eventually returns to his family, who no longer recognize him. When they reject him, he flees into the time stream, to emerge in the 25th, where he is imprisoned by the Reverse Flash (before he turned villainous) and the Renegades. And on top of his Imprisoned, and feeling pain with every change in the time stream, Paradox has come to see the Flash as a monster that has continually damages time itself.
This makes Paradox somewhat different, as a villain, as his beef against Barry is somewhat justified. Although Barry didn’t intentionally cause Paradox’s situation, he did inflict some of the changes to the time stream intentionally at least twice. Once when he saved his mother from being murdered and created the Flashpoint timeline. The second time was when he tried to undo that change, leading to the New 52 timeline.
This also raises some questions. Is Paradox only sensitive to all changes in the time stream, or just those caused by Barry. Does he potentially have a beef with Superman over the continuity change shown in Superman Reborn? And if his plan succeeds, does he plan on resetting reality back to his original, or does he have something else in mind? And could this be setting up another major shift in DC continuity or at least Barry’s personal history?
The only drawback in The Flash #89 is that with the focus being on Paradox, we didn’t get to see much of Barry in action only a brief recap of his fight with the Turtle. And Iris and Kid Flash were totally absent. However, with this being a setup for an epic story arc, we can spare an issue to get to know the villain that will be at the centre of it. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of Barry in action and interacting with his supporting cast as the Flash Age saga plays out.
Joshua Williamson has certainly proven that he can brilliantly write major storylines, especially with the recent Year One arc. Is there any doubt that he has something special for us for The Flash’s 80th Anniversary?