FLASH #56 & #57

A wise man once said, ‘Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of the day. But set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life’. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Joshua Williamson, Scott Kolins, and published by DC Comics in November, 2018.

TO QUOTE Buddha: 'Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life'.

Once upon a time, there was a troubled man named Mick Rory who constantly loved playing with fire. In fact, he loved playing with fire so much, he became a villain, he became a rogue, and he became a God; until finally he was possessed by the mysterious sage-force and was trapped inside a prison encased within his own mind.

Well, to be fair, he wasn’t trapped all by himself, because he somehow took along with him two other people, The Flash and Detective Burns, who obviously tried their best to then break free and figure out what the hell is going on. 

Can they do this though? And if they can’t, who else is able to help them from the outside world? Iris West perhaps? Commander Cold? Or how about someone completely different? To find out, please pick up issue 56 and 57 of The Flash today. But before you rush off and do that, here, check this out… 

Part One) CAN YOU SMELL BURNING:   So here we are again, folks, with another episode of, ‘Let’s transform an old Flash villain into a new one by giving them brand new powers’. This time though, the villain in question is none other than Heat Wave, real name: Mick Rory, whereas the power derives from the sage-force itself.

So, pray tell, what do you think he decides to do with it? Use it for good perhaps? Or how about changing the error of his ways? Ha! Don’t make me laugh! Why of course, he does what any respectable villain would do under the circumstances. He takes advantage of this situation by slipping into a coma and dragging two heroes along with him: Those heroes being The Flash and Detective Burns.

Now, if truth be told, I’ve always liked Mick, both as a hero and a villain, because to some extent I feel sorry for him and can empathize with his plight. After all, pyromania is a proven medical condition and can only be treated with counseling and properly prescribed medication. But, unfortunately for Mick, he didn’t receive any such treatment, so he slowly started to lose control and give in to his darker urges.

Well, it’s a shame, isn’t it? A real shame, and goes to show how all of this could have been avoided with the use of some tender loving care! That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that Detective Burns could empathize with Mick's predicament, largely due to them both sharing similar tragedies in their past! I seriously thought this revelation was a stroke of genius on Joshua Williamson’s behalf; because it managed to join these two together on an emotional level if not a spiritual one.

Come to think of it, there was quite a lot of things going on in this episode (issue 56) which I genuinely enjoyed. Things like: (1) Detective Burns’s backstory, especially how she lost her family and why she moved to Central from Gotham City; (2) That whole flashback sequence which recounted Mick’s messed up origins; (3) Seeing Commander Cold teaming up with Iris West so they can both find out what’s going on with Barry and co; and (4) The clever way Barry managed to figure out how the sage-force partly relies on perception and emotion, or should I say, empathic emotion, which allows the wielder to be able to tap into it and use it however they see fit. So, yeah, all in all, this issue was a pretty good issue, and I’m happy to say the same thing about…

Part Two) WOODEN FIRE:   ...issue 57. Although, in this instance, I’m afraid to say that I did notice two major flaws, with each flaw either focused on character development or snags to the overall plot. 

Now, where character development is concerned, more or less I felt that one specific character wasn’t portrayed in a proper fashion. Namely, Heat Wave, who came across as if he were a two-dimensional generic facsimile of his former self, spouting monotonous and cliched driven dialogue that was rather trite and boring to read. Worst still, it was hard to decipher his flaming text-speech, his updated physiognomy showed no expression or obvious emotion, and all in all, he was as stiff as a plank of wood and twice as lively. 

Which, in a roundabout way, brings me quite nicely onto my second gripe: That pesky plot snag! Well, between you and me, I’ve never been a big fan of how some adventures are miraculously resolved at the last minute due to a pre-existing subplot. Sometimes this method of resolving a story can feel fairly contrived and rather manipulative, especially if you prefer a less obvious form of resolution. Case in point, halfway through this issue, issue 57, for those of you keeping count, Iris West suddenly realizes that she studied the sage-force during her previous life, and, surprise-surprise, uses this knowledge to somehow construct a device in order to resolve Heat Wave’s current situation!

I mean, seriously? Has it really come to this? Are we meant to believe that Iris recollected this very, very important piece of information at the exact same time it was needed for the story? Obviously, we are, big time, otherwise, it wouldn't have ended when it did. Yet that still doesn't take away how contrived, how obvious, and how unnatural this sequence ultimately played out, despite it strangely possessing at least one positive connotation: Iris is now willing to tell Barry the truth about her memory related flashbacks, which in turn puts this specific stray subplot to bed and sets up their up-and-coming adventure. 

Along similar lines, I also liked the fact that we now know Commander Cold’s first name, Henry, which just so happens to be the same name as Barry’s Dad, Henry Allen. Trust me, folks, this isn’t a coincidence, and only goes to show that there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye. After all, we know that Cold has deliberately studied Barry’s legacy (as showcased during his suspenseful confrontation with Mick), plus we also know that he has a caring side too (as featured during said-same confrontation). Therefore, the implication either goes one of two ways: He’s either related to Barry directly or somehow connected to his vast legacy. 

What do you think, dear reader? Am I correct with my presumption? And if I’m not, what else could it mean? Also, did you enjoy reading this story arc or wasn’t it your cup of tea? Personally, I thought it was okay, up to a point, and showed a lot of promise because the art was bold and expressive (Nice one, Scott), the story had its moments (nice one, Josh), and on the whole, certain elements have been nicely put in place and I’m sure the best is yet to come (Nice one, Zoom?). 

For fairly obvious reasons I’d like to musically match-up these two episodes with the Arthur Brown song, ‘Fire’. Please enjoy.

When I heard Barry comparing his life to someone running around in circles, circa issue 57, I thought this expression was so apt, so appropriate, and so spot-on, I’m now going to use what he said as a basis for this months comic book comparison – it’s like someone running around in circles, back and forth, back and forth, regardless of the direction. 

At the end of issue 57, both Barry and Iris decide to go on a very special trip together. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess where they actually go? Could it be…

  • To Jamaica. 
  • To Walmart.
  • To Mexico. 
  • To Mars. 
  • To England. 
  • To Keystone City. 
  • To another universe so they can start their Force Quest.
  • To Timbuktu. 
Nuff said.

FLASH #56 & #57 FLASH #56 & #57 Reviewed by David Andrews on November 13, 2018 Rating: 5

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