Review: THE FLASH #766
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kevin Shinick
Artist: Will Conrad
Letters: Steve Wands
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Flash #766: In the final showdown with Dr. Alchemy, the Flash’s powers prove almost useless and his intellect outmatched! How can Barry Allen beat a foe who thinks three steps ahead? The Fastest Man Alive will have to play catchup…but it may not be enough to save himself or Central City.
With The Flash #766, Kevin Shinick concludes his first story arc on the title. While I was at first a bit trepidatious about a new writer taking over, Shinick has shown that he has more than sufficient talent for the position.
If you’ve ever harboured any doubts about how accomplished a scientist Barry Allen is, then this issue should lay that to rest. As part of his plan to stop Doctor Alchemy’s rampage, Barry uses his mastery of chemistry to actually create a new Philosopher’s Stone. And even more impressive, he improved on the original by creating one that protects the user from being influenced by the Stone’s previous wielders.
It proves beyond any doubt that Barry ranks among DC’s greatest scientific minds. Will Magnus, creator of the Metal Men, makes an appearance in this issue, and it is clear that he respects Barry as a colleague. Barry chose a career as a police scientist because that was his passion, not because he lacked the ability to pursue a loftier career path.
I loved how Shinick played us in this story. Barry and Albert Desmond clearly have had a rivalry for years. Iris warns Barry to check his ego, and not create the new Philosopher’s Stone just to prove he’s a better chemist than Desmond. But Barry does so anyway, and Shinick leads us to believe that Barry has fallen into Doctor Alchemy’s trap. Barry explains, “As Alchemy gloats, I think to myself that Iris was right… I should’ve listened. I should have put my ego aside and planned for it. And then I remember… I did!”. Barry saw Desmond’s trap coming and devised a way around it.
The fight ends up with Alchemy transformed to stone, which leaves Barry victorious. However, Barry is not content with that victory. He swears to find a cure for his fallen foe. As Barry tells us, “Creating a Philosopher’s Stone might be a great achievement for a chemist… But finding a way to help Desmond, to commit to saving a human being… is the greatest achievement for a hero”. While Barry is a noteworthy scientist, at his core, he’s a hero.
Shinick has also been dropping hints throughout this story arc about marriage, which continues in The Flash #766. At the end of this story, we see Barry pondering over his relationship with Iris, while waiting to meet her. He is standing outside a jewelry shop, and the store’s proprietor senses a sale. He tells Barry, “A good-looking guy like you, in front of a jewelry store with a smile looking like that. Someone’s looking for a ring”. Barry argues that it’s merely coincidence, but I suspect that subconsciously, he is thinking about marrying Iris.
The only apparent flaw in this issue that I could find was an apparent mischaracterization of Barry. It seemed to me unlikely that Barry would let his ego lead him to a reckless course of action. However, this was revealed to be a misdirection of Shinick, and ultimately revealed that Shinick has a good handle on Barry’s true character.
Despite some initial doubts, Shinick’s “With This Ring” story has confirmed for me that Shinick was indeed a good choice to take over the writing duties on The Flash. I have no doubt that his run on the title will be an enjoyable and exciting experience for Flash fans.