FLASH #86 & #87

There once was a villain called Snart, who had a heart that was slowly falling apart. So to make himself feel better! He wrote a strict yet stern letter. To a tart that smelt like a fart. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Joshua Williamson, Rafa Sandoval, and published by DC Comics in February, 2020.

TO QUOTE Steven Wright: OK, so what's the speed of dark?’.

So this is it, folks. This is the one we’ve been waiting to see, ever since Captain Cold took over Central City and transformed it into a giant ice cream

So, how do you think things will turn out? Will Barry beat Leonard and save the day? Will the sidekicks team up with the Rogues and reverse Mirror Master’s menacing machine? And how will any of this affect Iris, Commander Cold, and the rest of the citizens living in this chilly corner of the country?

Well, to find out, please pick up and read issue 86 of The Flash today. Then once you’ve done that, afterwards, I suggest you pick up the next issue. Issue 87, which is about Barry and Len going to Arkham Asylum in order to resolve their differences (just not in the way you might think). In the meantime, though, here, check this out…

As you might have guessed from my silly summary, these two episodes of The Flash focused on two different parts of the same adventure. While issue 86 concluded the ‘Rogues’ Reign’ storyline, issue 87, on the other hand, acted as an epilogue of sorts. An epilogue that resolved certain scenarios and introduced others! So, as you can see, there’s a lot for me to discuss this month, and that’s why I’m now going to do just that with the following Q&A…

1) Did you enjoy reading the final part of ‘Rogues’ Reign’? Yeah. I liked it, I liked it a lot, because the art was bold, dynamic, and very easy on the eye, whereas the story in itself was straight to the point and full of charming little touches. Well, not only did it begin with a rather pleasant recap of The Flash and Captain Cold feud (very nostalgic), but in addition to this, it also managed to chronicle their current battle in fairly dramatic fashion (very Ka-Bam!). The story also presented us with a number of very enjoyable scenes where certain characters expressed a different side to their personalities, ranging from a scene where Barry rallied the troops once he recognized he was being outmatched (very progressive), all the way to another scene where Heat Wave and Weather Wizard reprimanded Mirror Master for being horrible about Len (very loyal). That said, however, there were a couple of occasions where the story felt rushed, staged even, like the time where Wally and Avery retrieved Aunt Iris from, well, wherever she was, because she didn’t really do anything once she arrived on the scene. And along similar lines, the less said about the quick restoration of Central City, the better (Hint: It was too quick). 

2) Ok. So what about the fight itself? Was it any good? Well, if truth be told, I’ve never been a big fan of long and drawn out fight scenes where person A has to beat up person B for the sake of reason C, especially if the fight doesn’t bring anything new to the table, aside from the usual bang-biff-pow! In this case, though, yes, it did bring something new. Not physically new. But rather, emotionally new, involving Leonard’s sister, a.k.a. The Golden Glider, who tried to calm him down from his crazed confrontation with words of love instead of screams of hate! In many ways, her dialogue humanized the fight by adding a modicum of emotion to the mix: Emotion that grounded its superficial pretext and then paved the way for Barry’s sudden outburst at the end of issue 86

3) Oh! So what happened? Did Barry kill him or something? No. It wasn’t anything like that, but he did allow his powers to get the better of him, so to speak, which resulted in a physical outburst, a moment of incarceration, and some further investigation by Doctor Meena Dhawan at the start of issue 87. Yes. That’s right. That Doctor Meena Dhawan! The same Dhawan who went a bit mad and tried to kill Barry a few years back. Anyway, according to her, the speed force has been compromised by Gorilla Grodd during his previous storm-induced machinations, and because of this, everyone who now taps into it isn’t able to control their vibrational frequency. So, to resolve this problem, Iris smartly enlists the services of Hartley Rathaway, a.k.a. The Pied Piper, who manages to fine-tune Barry’s abilities with the use of a sonic gun (Barry, along with Wally and Avery, while they’re all stationed at Arkham Asylum).

4) Wow! That was a quick fix. But I thought Meena went nuts and Hartley went bye-bye? No, fortunately not, because Meena was reintroduced during the ‘Rogues Reloaded’ storyline, whereas Hartley has deliberately kept a low profile since the start of Rebirth, which I partly presume has something to do with his previous association with the first Wally West. Although, you know, I could be wrong, and most probably am. Either way, it was nice to see them again, ish, and I hope that their roles are expanded upon in future issues. 

5) Anything else worth mentioning? Well, without giving too much away, I did enjoy reading the great conversation Barry had with Leonard while the two of them were being transported to Arkham Asylum. You see, at the start of issue 87, we are presented with a sequence which shows the two of them sitting in the back of a prison-van that’s taking them to the nut-house (on account of what happened at the end of the previous episode, hint-hint!). But before they get there, Barry strikes up a conversation with Len which gives them the chance to 'express' whatever ails them deep inside. For Barry, it’s the loss of his parents and the love of his family and friends. Whereas for Leonard, it’s the love of his sister and the hatred for his father! So, to some extent, this was a nice way of illustrating what they both have and haven’t got in common. In addition to this, this sequence also insinuates that Len is Barry’s opposite number, similar to Batman and The Joker, or Superman and Lex Luthor. But as far as I’m concerned, no, no he’s not, because it’s The Reverse-Flash, a.k.a. Eobard Thawne, although Snart is a very good villain and is far more developed than many of his contemporaries! So much so, in fact, that I'm now looking forward to seeing what's going to happen next between him and his sister!

Anyway, all that aside, and on the whole, I would just like to say that I did enjoy reading these two issues of The Flash because the art was amazing and the story was dramatically told. But in the same breath, I also wished the story answered these two questions: (1) How long will Hartley’s remedy work for? (Because from what we’ve been told so far, this is debatable, or variable, depending on how each speedster uses their powers). And (2) Why have we never seen Commander Cold’s dead body? (I mean, is he really dead? Or are we just meant to believe he’s dead for reasons not yet made clear?). In any event, so far, so good, but I’m sure the best is yet to come.

For this month’s musical match-up, I’m going to align this adventure with The Sugababes’ song, ‘Overload’, because that’s what happens to some of the characters, they overload, whether they like it or not.

I would now like to compare these two episodes to an old, old, calendar, because they both try to reclaim, reclassify, or reignite certain key events that have happened in the past. Although, in this case, in a far less stressful fashion, ha!

At the end of issue 87, Barry is suddenly approached by another hero who tells him... what? What does this hero tell him and who could this person be? I mean, is it...

  • Elseworlds Aquaman: ‘Can you smell fish?’.
  • Flashpoint Batman: ‘Don’t hire Tom King’.
  • Pre-Crisis Wally: ‘Listen to Batman’.
  • Russian Superman: ‘Drink more vodka’. 
  • Future Barry: ‘We created a paradox’.
  • Post-Crisis Iris: ‘Will you marry me?’.
  • Rebirth Road Runner: ‘Meep-Meep’.
  • Midlife-Crisis Wonder Woman: ‘I’m pregnant with your child’.

Nuff said.

FLASH #86 & #87 FLASH #86 & #87 Reviewed by David Andrews on February 20, 2020 Rating: 5

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