FLASH #68 & #69

There once was a very tricky man, who tricked everyone that visited his clan. Until, one day, he didn’t, want to play, because his clan gave him a very severe ban. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Joshua Williamson, Scott Kolins, and published by DC Comics in May, 2019.

TO QUOTE Chuck Palahniuk:The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up’.

A few years ago, James Jesse, otherwise known as The Trickster, managed to escape from Iron Heights Penitentiary by outsmarting Warden Wolfe and disappearing without a trace. After a while, though, he started to realize that he could use his ambiguity to his advantage, doing so by befriending police officers (Detective Kristen Kramer), stealing equipment (Commander Cold’s equipment), and basically, using everything he had at his disposal to make everyone feel extremely, extremely, happy.

Although, to be fair, when I say ‘happy’, what I actually mean by this, is that he combines all of these elements together in order to control the populous. Minus Barry Allen, of course, the fastest man alive, who quickly figures out what’s going on and tries to take Jesse down.

Can he do this though? Can Barry actually escape from Jesse’s trap and put an end to his dastardly plans? Plans which include the entire Rogues Gallery robbing, stealing, and pilfering whatever they come across, while the general public slap, bash, and kick each other into submission! Want to know more? Then please pick up issue 68 and 69 of The Flash today. In the meantime though, here, check this out… 

Part One) SHUT IT:   Before we begin, please allow me to make one thing perfectly clear. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading these two episodes of The Flash, simply because the art was bold, lively, and very easy to follow, while the story in itself was one part cheesy, one part fun, and one part very vibrant by design. That said, however, these two episodes also had two fairly specific flaws I wasn’t too keen on either. Flaws, I hasten to add, which have always befuddled me ever since I first picked up a comic book!

Well, first and foremost, I’ve never quite understood why a villain, which in this case, I mean The Trickster, would want to divulge their big, master plan before completing it in its entirety. After all, it doesn’t make much sense, does it? On a logical level, at least, because even if a bad guy is totally confident about their dastardly schemes, there’s still a chance the good guy will be able to thwart it, especially if they know about the plan already. 

So, why bother, eh? Why does a villain bother wasting their breath? Is it an ego thing, perhaps? Pure bravado? Or is it a compulsion they can’t resist because deep down inside they secretly want someone to stop them and put them in their place? In any event, a villain telling someone what they’re planning to do next is a stupid idea, a really stupid idea, and it has never, ever sat well with me, not even when The Trickster did this in issue 68.

Now, the second thing I wasn’t too sure about, or should I say, truly understood, has to do with the way someone might feel when they’re being controlled by somebody else! Well, let’s be real here, do these mind-controlled victims still have something niggling deep inside them while they’re being possessed? Or alternatively, are their emotions completely diminished of any real reason or logic? Either way, a degree of inconsistency must somehow affect this brand of mental-manipulation, which in turn, would make it moderately infallible and imply that a victim can somehow break free! 

Although, on second thoughts, how can one mortal being possibly control a vast city full of people all on their own? Practically, I mean, keeping in mind that most individuals can generally process information bit, by bit, by bit, before slowly cracking under the pressure and the strain, even if they are being aided by a device, a toxin, or some form of macrobiotic gas! But then again, this is a comic book, and as such, comic book logic can sometimes impede the telling of a story due to an oversimplification of certain concepts or ideas.  

Part Two) BLOWING HOT AND COLD:   Actually, this last point brings me quite nicely onto something else about this adventure that I wasn’t too keen on. Namely, how Jesse’s mind-altering shenanigans made certain parts of the plot somewhat difficult to swallow

I mean, just take a look at Barry at the end of issue 68, for instance, which showed him with his legs cut off and in a lot of distress. Well, did anyone buy into this shocking turn of events? Did anyone actually believe that the fastest man alive wasn’t going to run anymore? No, of course not, and this is because we already knew about Jesse’s mind-bending abilities, therefore, any shock value was quickly rendered redundant and made somewhat obsolete. The same can also be said about everything else presented throughout this story. After all, why should we be alarmed by a surprise shift, a tawdry turn, or an alarming action, when it’s entirely possible that they can be manipulated or controlled for narrative purposes? Know what I mean? 

Having said that, though, there was one shining ray of light that gallantly beamed down all over these proceedings!  A light, which in my opinion, took the form of a great partnership between Barry Allen and Commander Cold. Seriously, folks, ever since these two have gotten together, their union has slowly grown stronger and stronger by the episode. So much so, in fact, that during one stage in issue 69, I happily jumped up into the air when the two of them figured out a way of escaping The Trickster's trap. Well, when I say, ‘the two of them’, what I mean by this, is that The Commander managed to find a way to snap out of his haze first, which gave him the opportunity to impart what he did to Barry so he could do the exact same thing. Then, from that moment onwards, bing-bang-boom, The Flash sprang into action and… uhhh… and... hmmm... and I best not tell you anything else or I might spoil the surprise! 

Although, what I can say, is that this storyline does end on a very intriguing note, because even though certain plot threads were resolved and finally put to bed (Wolfe, mind control, etc), others are waiting in the wings and ready whenever required (Rogues, Trickster, etc). Personally, I kind of like reading this type of conclusion, up to a point, because on the one hand, some level of satisfaction is achieved from those sections that were finally unraveled, whereas, on the other, it's nice to know that the future is looking very exciting for everyone’s second favorite scarlet speedster. 

So, what did you think, dear reader? What did you think about this tricky storyline? I mean, did you like it? Did you hate it? Or are you a bit like me? Sitting on the fence and eating ice cream, patiently waiting for the best that’s yet to come. In any event, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

For this month’s musical match-up, I would like to align this adventure with the Alice Cooper song, ‘Trick Bag’, simply because they’re both about tricks.

Back in the day, the Justice League would often face off against a villain called Lord Manga Khan. Otherwise known as that silly sod who has a rather irritating habit of divulging his plans to anyone who’d listen to him. Similar, in fact, to what James Jesse did during issue 68 of The Flash. 

Therefore, comparison made, and may the Lord have mercy on my soul. 

At the end of issue 69, Barry Allen suddenly comes face-to-face with, who? Who does Barry come face-to-face with? I mean, could it be…

  1. Batman: Who tells him that he’s sorry for pissing him off.
  2. Warden Wolfe: Who tells him that he’s a Leo.
  3. Bart Allen: Who tells him to pull his finger.
  4. Steadfast: Who tells him that the mystery of the multiverse can be found hidden in his past.
  5. Wally West:  Who tells him what he did at Sanctuary.
  6. Iris West: Who tells him why she had to get away.
  7. Tom King: Who tells him why some fans want to kill him.

Nuff said.

FLASH #68 & #69 FLASH #68 & #69 Reviewed by David Andrews on May 21, 2019 Rating: 5

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