The Flash #48 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Howard Porter, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Over the last few years, we’ve had a lot of hero vs. hero events. DC gave us Injustice and Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, while Marvel bombarded us with two Civil Wars, Avengers vs. X-Men, and Inhumans vs. X-Men. And I’ve never quite fully bought one until “Flash War.”
Josh Williamson is unraveling the story he’s been building towards since Rebirth, and the conflict between Barry Allen and Wally West is so real and so brutal that you understand just how ugly this is going to get. Barry is right from every logical perspective – but what Wally is fighting for is so powerful that there’s no way you can blame him. That would be his children, Irey and Jai, reintroduced in a flashback segment and lost to the Flashpoint effect. Wally has been gaining his memories back slowly over the course of the run, but in the clutches of Hunter Zolomon, he’s getting them all back at once. And the grief over what he’s lost is making him more than a little unstable. When Zolomon tells him that the only way to save them is to destroy the Speed Force, you know what he’s going to do.
Barry, meanwhile, is the voice of reason in the issue, but what’s looming over the entire issue is the truth, that neither of them seems to fully grasp yet – Barry is the one behind the Flashpoint effect, and erased entire generations from existence. It might be an unintended effect, but he still set the wheels in motion. (Of course, we now know that someone else, someone much bluer, might have had a role there. But none of them know that yet.) Aside from a brief interlude where Barry has to battle the Rogues of the future to get free, the issue is almost all tension from beginning to end. Hunter Zolomon is one of DC’s best villains, and his psychological manipulation of Wally made me genuinely angry at points. By the end of the issue, we’re being set up for a Flash vs. Flash race like no other, with Wally being willing to destroy the entire Flash legacy to save his family, and Barry desperate to stop him. I have no clue how this will end, except unhappily, but this is easily one of the stories I’m most excited by at DC right now.
Corrina: This issue was brutal and intense and, yet, because it’s called “Flash War,” the final race, with Wally ready to free his family, and Barry needing to stop him, still seems inevitable.
The great stuff is Barry’s empathy with Wally for the loss of his family and Wally’s despair and need to get his family back. And, yet, Barry never steps back and considers Wally’s point of view fully–why is destroying the Speed Force a bad thing?
The story doesn’t explain why it’s bad, either, not really, and given how out of control Barry has been in this run, the story seemed stacked for Wally’s side. I mean, it’s hinted that the temporal problems that Barry and Wally cause might be at the root of the timewave in this issue but this is one case where I need the consequences of destroying the Speed Force spelled out: what will actually happen? Barry just seems to think it’s bad and he’ll lose his powers. That’s not enough to give his side of the argument any weight. How could anyone be Team Barry with Irey and Jai’s lives at stake?
Ray is pretty hard on Zolomon but…I’m new to Flash stories so my reaction was “everything else has been altered, why is it so hard to believe Zolomon is telling the truth?” Ray sees emotional manipulation–that may be the case, especially given Zolomon’s past actions, which Wally nicely reminds the reader about. But, again, so much logic seems stacked on Zolomon’s side that I needed more than “well, he is evil and manipulative.”
Still, awesome on resolving “Iris was a murderer” subplot quickly. She and new Wally have been a highlight of this arc.
And, despite my frustration with the story not explaining what the destruction of the Speed Force might do, this is Williamson’s best Flash story since his early issues of this run.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.