FLASH #54 & #55

Did you know that The Flash is really good at doing impersonations? So far he can impersonate Daredevil, Superman, Quick Silver, Speedy Gonzales, and even the Incredible Hulk and Solomon Grundy. Now to see who else he can impersonate, please check out the following adventure created by Joshua Williamson, Christian Duce, Scott Kolins, and published by DC Comics in October, 2018.

TO QUOTE Benjamin Disraeli: 'Circumstances are beyond human control, but our conduct is in our own power'. 

Under normal circumstances, The Flash can usually beat The Trickster in a fair fight. After all, Barry is the fastest man alive, whereas Axel is a slippery sod with a robotic arm and a bag of tricks. Unfortunately, though, these aren’t your normal circumstances, saying so because these two have been infused with energy that derives from the strength-force itself, and now they’re primed and ready to have a humongous battle within the confines of Iron Heights Penitentiary

Well, I say they have a fight, which they do, in part, although in actuality they both discover some very important information along the way. Barry discovers that the strength-force allows the user to manipulate gravity, while Axel, on the other hand, discovers that Warden Wolfe is a stubborn bully and confronts him accordingly. Either way, at the end of the day, a battle is fought, dialogue is spoken, and everyone comes to the realization that might isn’t always right, yet heroes and villains can sometimes come in many different shapes and sizes. 

Which, funnily enough, kind of brings me on to what happens a few weeks later to Barry and another one of his villains: Namely, Mick Rory, otherwise known as Heat Wave, who suddenly gets blown up inside his jail cell, knocked into a coma, and transformed into a scary monster, roughly around the same time Barry starts seeing terrifying visions of Wally West, his ex-sidekick. Want to know more? Then please pick up issues 54 and 55 of The Flash today. In the meantime though, here, check this out…

Part One) WITH GREAT POWER COMES:   In very broad terms, I'd say issue 54 of The Flash was one of those stories which tried to accomplish many many tasks in one foul swoop. It tried to resolve a couple of previously established plot-points, it tried to set up a few new ones, and then it tried to leave some dangling for future episodes to explore. In fact, it tried to do so much in such a small amount of time, indirectly the whole thing felt rushed, fractured, almost as if someone pointed a gun at Joshua Williamson’s head and told him to, “finish this f@cker now”.

Don’t worry though, dear reader, because this concluding chapter isn’t completely pants and does have some redeeming features. This includes bold and expressive artwork provided by the wonderful Christian Duce, a nice little revelation about how the strength-force works, plus two engrossing subplots focused on Barry‘s relationships. Specifically, his frigid relationship with Commander Cold (which I’m sure we will see more of in the future), along with his on-again, off-again, relationship with Iris West (which I’m hoping will be resolved soon).

Why is that though? Why is Barry acting like this? Constantly arguing with people and feeling on edge, scared of change! Yes. I know that he's got a lot going on at the moment. But then again, he's always got a lot going on! Seriously, he wasn’t like this before, because once upon a time, Barry was a fairly placid person who had a logical temperament and a calm demeanor. Now though, well, now he just seems erratic, sensitive, and fairly similar to the overall flow of this storyline. Up one minute, down the next, and meanders, to and fro, to and fro, between a punch in the face and a word of exposition. 

Still, with all that said, overall I’d say this story was pretty good to read, more or less, plus I did like the ‘tricky’ way it ended and how the fight was resolved in a somewhat heroic fashion. Some might say too heroic, if you get my gist, but even so, it’s always nice when an adventure ends on a grand and mysterious note, rather than a bum one. Which reminds me...

Part Two) FIRE IN THE HOLE:   Since the apparent death of Wally West – I repeat, apparent-apparent-apparent – I’ve started to have second thoughts about the direction of this series. Well, if truth be told, Barry doesn’t seem like Barry anymore, his stories don’t seem original anymore, and overall, things are heading in a direction which I’m personally not too fond of. A direction, I hasten to add, that is focused on those new powers associated with ‘The Force’, and how they're being introduced to this book in a fairly formulaic fashion.

Now a good example of this can be seen at the end of issue 52, where we see The Trickster being infused with strength-force powers, only for blah-blah-blah, bang-bang-bang, next-next-next, and again, at the end of issue 55, where we see Heat Wave being infused with sage-force powers, only for yadda-yadda-yadda, etc-etc-etc, sleep-sleep-sleep. Which, in all fairness, sounds fairly repetitive by design, don’t you think? Boring in fact! And in many ways comes across as being too contrived and predictable for those of us with a more mature palette. I mean, is it going to be like this all the time? Are we going to be presented with adventure, after adventure, after adventure, where we see one of Barry’s villains being given a power from the, coff-coff, Force, only for him to then find a way of taking it away from them? (All within the safe confines of a three-episode story arc) I hope not, I sincerely do, because when this series wants to be good, trust me, it can be good, really good, as demonstrated in a great scene featured at the start of issue 55.

No. I’m not referring to the action-packed scene where The Flash teams-up with Justice League Dark so they can collectively take on Solomon Grundy. Essentially, I found that introductory sequence very conventional and pedestrian by design, disposable even, and kind of delayed the main intent of this storyline from taking off (that being, 'saying hi to the sage-force'). What I’m actually referring to, dear reader, is the scene which followed it, where Barry, Iris, Morrow, Burns, and Kristen are at the bar together, getting to know each other. 

Personally, I just love reading this type of scenario, I really do, because it’s homely and very fitting for a title such as this one. After all, The Flash comic book has always been about family and friends, and how they all get along when they’re not fighting crime or snooping for clues. I also enjoyed seeing a decent amount of human interaction in this episode because it makes the cast seem more relatable on an archetypical level, what with Barry being the elusive egghead, Iris being the modern day reporter, and Kristen and the Detectives being the support, the backbone of the book, who each enhance it by making everything feel more real and less super (if you get my gist). 

Actually, while I'm on the subject of Kristen, did you notice that she keeps on hiding away her partner? I wonder why that is? Could it be because she’s ashamed of them or is it something much more dubious? Also, while I’m on the subject of things being dubious, did you also notice that Detective Burns is setting her sights on finding a dubious partner of her own, namely, Commander Cold, so there’s a pretty good chance that something is bound to develop out of that situation as well. 

Anyway, that aside, more or less issue 55 of The Flash was a fairly decent issue to read, because Scott Kolins's artwork was gruff in places but generally easy to follow, while Joshua Williamson's story had its bipolar moments, although, as an introduction, it was fine, pleasant in fact, and I’m sure the best is yet to come. Fingers crossed, next month will be better. 

In issue 54, when Barry came to the realization that he had the ability to defy gravity, suddenly, out of the blue, the following song popped into my mind. Can you guess which one it is? Yes. That’s correct. It’s ‘Defying Gravity’ by the cast of Glee. Bbblluuuurrrgggg. I think I feel sick.

Yes. That’s right. Again. I’m choosing a box of matches for this month's comparison, simply because of what happened to Rory’s character in issue 55

Boom! Light a candle in a church and say no more! 

At the end of issue 55, Heat Wave stands over The Flash and Detective Burns and calls himself... what? What does he call himself? Let’s see if you can guess out of the following eight options! Could it be...

  • A Git.
  • A Goat.
  • A God.
  • A Granny.
  • A Garage.
  • A Greengrocer.
  • A Gnome.
  • A Greedy f#ck!
Nuff said. 

FLASH #54 & #55 FLASH #54 & #55 Reviewed by David Andrews on October 16, 2018 Rating: 5

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