FLASH #23 & #24

What do you get when you mix together the three colors, red, yellow, and green? No! You don't get an off-putting purple color. But rather, you get the color of blood, as seen in the following two issues of the Flash, created by Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, and published by DC Comics. It's June, 2017, and it's time for another double-review.

TO QUOTE My Last Driving Instructor: 'If you keep on reversing, you're bound to hit something sooner or later'.

Overall I felt that issue 23 of The Flash nicely set up the first part of this brand new story-line, "Color of Fear". By and large most of it took place at a surprise birthday party Iris West held for her boyfriend, Barry Allen, a surprise party in which most of his friends were in attendance. This included Wally and Iris (aka his sidekick and his girlfriend), Hartley (aka The Pied Piper), his Dad (aka Hendry Allen), Hal Jordan (aka Green Lantern), as well as the entire Crime Lab from the Central City Police Department.

But the strange thing about this, is that even though most of Barry's friends were in attendance, Barry himself, wasn't, not in spirit anyway. You see, on the day in question Barry appeared somewhat preoccupied with an awful lot of problems plaguing his mind. For instance, he wasn't too pleased with how his last adventure with Bruce ultimately ended (and he wasn't the only one), and in addition to this, he doesn't like the idea that Wally isn't speaking to him, putting this down to his own reluctance in not being able to tell Wally's Aunt about his secret identity.

Deep inside, Barry feels that his apprehension stems from the numerous encounters he's had with his arch-enemy, The Reverse Flash! Despite him currently being dead, very-very dead, Barry still can't shake off the feeling that one day he will return and kill, slaughter, and maim everyone he holds dear. So far he's killed his mother and beaten up Bruce pretty badly, so of course, he can't help but worry that this could happen again, which it might, especially if issue 24 has anything to say about it. 

As it turns out, halfway through issue 23, while Barry was moping around, ignoring his guests, suddenly his party comes under attack by Multiplex. No, not an actual cinema, but rather the name given to a misguided villain who's fallen in love with one of Barry's colleagues! And so, when this happens, both Barry and Hal take it upon themselves to suit up and repel Multiplex's onslaught, doing so while ordering Wally to take his Aunt Iris back to her house for safe keeping.

Ops! That wasn't a good idea. Not a good idea at all. Because once they arrive at her place, can you guess who's waiting for them there? Yep! That's correct. It's none other than the Reverse Flash himself, back from the dead, and ready to, you know, be a naughty-naughty villain. A villain, I might add, who shares the spotlight with both Barry, Hal, and the rest of the cast during issue 24, also known as part two of 'Color of Fear', with one part of the plot firmly focused on him terrorizing Wally and his Aunt, while the other part centers on Barry and Hal fending off Multiplex and his army of duplicates.

Now don't worry. I won't tell you too much because I don't want to spoil how these two story strands finally resolve themselves.  Yet what I will say is that on the whole I felt that both of these issues, both parts one and parts two, were a pretty mixed bag when it came down to telling a story.

On a positive note, I did enjoy the suspenseful feeling each episode had in spades, like the unveiling of the Reverse Flash as well as the way Barry didn't interact with his party guests. Plus on top of that, I also got a right kick out of the comparisons between Barry's situation and Multiplex's situation, which was then enhanced by all of those 'historical references' spoken by Thawne: Such as, his 'Impulsive' comment (obviously referring to Bart Allen), the fact that 'Wally number two' is a reinvention of the original Kid Flash (hint-hint), as well as when he told Iris about the time he killed another version of her, during the run of Barry's original comic book series (issue 165 to be more precise).

Whereas on a negative note, I wasn't too keen on how certain events transpired in a very sequential manner, one, by one, by one; such as Hal turning up a couple of moments before Multiplex did. I also felt that the plot centered on Multiplex was a lot more pedestrian compared to the plot centered on the Reverse Flash, and in some way came across like a delay rather than a genuine story thread that needed to be addressed.

Funnily enough, I could also say a similar thing about the artwork provided by Carmine Di Giandomenico. Sometimes I really loved looking at his bold, cinematic visuals, particularly his facial work and his full-page spreads, whilst at other times I found his illustrations rather rushed and sketchy on the page, and they weren't consistent throughout. Apart from that, though, hey, things were pretty decent all in all. As the story was an intriguing one, the artwork had its moments, and more or less the next issue should be a right scream to read.

For this months musical match-up I'd like to pair these two issues with the Beatles song, 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. And why would I want to do such a thing? It's simple really. It's because parts of this song are played in reverse, just like the Reverse-Flash himself, wink-wink!

One of the central themes, running throughout these episodes, has to do with the notion of fear, namely, what makes one person do, or don't do, whatever it is they're scared of doing, generally spurned on by its ambiguous outcome. So, with that in mind, how could I not compare these installments with the one and only master of fear, The Scarecrow.

At the very end of issue 24, Barry find's Wally's wounded body on the floor with some blood soaked graffiti painted on the wall beside him. So, for the sake of street-art, can you guess what the writing on the wall actually says? Could it be...

  1. Where is the love?
  2. What's the difference between an ironing board and your sister? The legs of an ironing board are harder to open.
  3. You know where I live.
  4. Batman was here.
  5. The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.
  6. If you read this you suck eggs.
  7. Who watches the watchmen?
  8. This isn't a banksy.
Nuff said.

FLASH #23 & #24 FLASH #23 & #24 Reviewed by David Andrews on June 22, 2017 Rating: 5

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