FLASH #25 & #26

Have you ever loved something so much you can't help but love it to death? If so, then you can most probably sympathize with one of the characters seen in the following story. It was created by Joshua Williamson, Carmine DiGiandomenico, Neil Googe, Ryan Sook, Howard Porter, and published by DC Comics in July, 2017.

TO QUOTE Douglas Coupland: 'We want our idols to be dead because it makes death a much less scary place'.

By and large issue 25 of The Flash recounts the not so secret origins of Eobard Thawne, also known as The Reverse Flash.

Continuing on from last months episode, this month the story begins with the Flash travelling through time in order to save his girlfriend, Iris West, from Eobard's nefarious clutches. But unfortunately for him, as soon as the Flash arrives at his pre-determined destination, namely, the 25th century, he begins to realize that the place he previously visited isn't the same as it was before.

When the Flash first came to this century he visited it by mistake. Not that this mattered, of course, because the first person he bumped into was a huge fan of his. Such a huge fan, in fact, that he even figured out a way of duplicating the Flash's superpowers and fought crime using his good name.

The only drawback with this, however, is that the man in question was none other than Eobard Thawne, a man who idolized the Flash to such an extent that he tried to impress him by manufacturing the crimes he ended up thwarting. Eventually the Flash figured this out, and -- yes, you guessed it -- Thawne was sent off to prison for punishment and probable rehabilitation.

As time passed Eobard began to see the error of his ways. So much so, that upon his release he became a teacher as well as a curator for the Flash's legacy. Thawne also took it upon himself to travel back through time and thank the Flash for personally changing his perspective. Well, that was his intention; until he finally found Barry praising Wally West in a similar fashion he praised him previously.

Eobard took this to heart almost immediately and through sheer jealousy transformed himself into the Reverse Flash: a vile villain who killed Barry's mum, changed the time stream, kidnapped Iris, and now, in issues 25 and 26, manages to hold them both at bay, culminating in him taking off Barry's mask and showing Iris his real face! To make matters even worse he then shows Iris and Barry a vision of their future, a vision where their two children, presumably The Tornado Twins, terrorize everyone by attempting to destroy Central City.

Obviously this breaks Barry spirit and shatters any hope he and Iris might have for a possible union, one which seems very doubtful when Barry then agrees with Eobard's final demands. 

Of course I won't tell you what this actually entails for the sake of spoilers. Yet what I will say is that this conclusion, which takes place at the end of issue 26, was a real humdinger, and in many ways absolves issue 25 for its sins.

Now, with all due respect, what I mean by this has to do with how each of these two comics were structured and composed. Take issue 25 for instance, part one of 'Running Scared', for whatever reason three separate artists were assigned to illustrate it: Carmine DiGiandomenico, Neil Googe, and Ryan Sook, which was fine, more or less, although some of their wares did come across as a pretty mixed bag. Carmine's artwork was gruff and gritty, Neil's artwork was light and bubbly, Ryan's artwork was gothic and grand, bordering on the steampunk, and collectively I did like how they each focused on a specific aspect of the plot. Yet, that said, individually they weren't able to bring each component together and make it gel as if it were a singular story, more like a collection of short stories strung together by a lop-sided narrative.

Of course a large portion of this has to do with Joshua Williamson's script. Just like the three artists involved with this issue, he also managed to tell a story and add a couple of nice bits to it, especially Barry's unmasking, Iris's defiance, plus the revelation that Barry's mum was a fan of sci-fi. Yet his biggest problem was that he presented a disjointed, fractured, collection of stories which was strung together by a singular plot thread, a collection, if truth be told, that felt more like a tried and tested character profile than a full on intellectual discussion about a villains motives.

Well, let's face it; all you have to do is look at popular culture to read a story about a sad lonely orphan who shied away from one of their idols. Thawne is no exception, and his motives for hating Barry were pretty weak, spurned on by that silly scene where Barry praised Wally for whatever he was praising him for.

I mean, what the hell was that all about? Couldn't the murdering scumbag have just approached Barry and had it out with him straightaway? Did he honestly think that by killing Barry's mother it would somehow make him seem special? Or then again, was that Joshua's point? That mad men have no grasp on humane logic, except for what they want to see and how they want to see it?

In stark contrast to this, issue 26 was much more consistent in both plot and design. For one thing, Howard Porter's artwork was absolutely amazing as he was able to pictorially convey a number of slightly varying sequences in a bold and vivid manner, such as the Tornado Twin sequence (that was very grand), as well as the confrontation between Barry, Iris, and Thawne. Joshua's script was also a lot more focused and structurally tighter, mainly in the way the overall narrative didn't feel obligated to tell an origin story but rather set-up a final confrontation between two opposing men.

So all in all, these two issues of the Flash were a pretty decent read. The story had its moments and so did the artwork too, both in scale, design, and of course, emotion.

In 1962 Roy Orbison co-created and performed a song which shares the same name as this current story arc. So with that said, take it away, Roy, and show the world your version of 'Running Scared'.

On a purely psychological level this tale depicts the lengths one person would go to in order to stamp his own will onto another. It's similar to what Bane did to Batman, or alternatively, similar to what Hannibal Lecter does to whoever takes his fancy.

Comparison made, accompanied by a fine glass of Chianti. Fuf-fuf-fuf!

Near the end of issue 26, Iris West manages to get her hands on a weapon so she can use it against the Reverse Flash. So, for the sake of ammunition, let's see if you can guess what this weapon is out of the following eight options? Could it be…

  • Captain Cold's Freeze Ray: As seen in the icy hands of Captain Cold.
  • Batman's Batarang: As seen in the Dark Knight's utility belt.
  • Green Arrow's Quiver: As seen in Ollie's shaft.
  • Dr Midnite's Night Vision Goggles: As seen in Specsavers, or any other high street Opticians.
  • Black Whole's Lightning Gun: As seen in issue 20 of the Flash.
  • Lois Lane's Pen: As seen up the ass of Superman.
  • Rainbow Raiders' Glowing Stick Thing: As seen in that story about the thing and the thing. 
  • Donald Trump's Wig: As seen sloping down his head.
Nuff said.

FLASH #25 & #26 FLASH #25 & #26 Reviewed by David Andrews on July 25, 2017 Rating: 5

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