Review – The Flash #49: Dire Match Race

Flash #49 variant cover
Image via DC Comics

The Flash #49 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Howard Porter, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: This Is Not Your Silver Age Flash Race

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

Ray: The last two issues of “Flash War” have been setting up the central conflict, showing how Hunter Zolomon played Barry and Wally against each other. However, the prelude is over, and now Barry and Wally are off in the race of their life. Wally’s been told that the only way to save his family is to destroy the Speed Force, while Barry is desperately trying to stop Wally from making the biggest mistake of his life and trusting a maniac. And the only way to do that is to outrace him. There’s just one problem – the Speed Force can’t take two Flashes pushing it to its limit.

When the issue kicks off, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor, and the Justice League and Titans are mobilizing to try to stop the Flashes before they cause irreparable damage to the world. As the race goes on, Barry generally comes off as the rational one, but it sort of falls flat when even he admits that he’s done things exactly like Wally is trying to do before. Hell, his actions directly led to – at least partially – the erasure of Wally’s family.

That Barry has logic on his side, but Wally is the more sympathetic one, is what elevates this story well above the other stories of its type (namely, the five or so different hero vs. hero events that Marvel has done). Both sides have a point, but both sides can’t win, which means this event feels like it’s doomed to end in tragedy. Wally running right through his friends, outracing Superman and even accidentally putting Hal in danger, shows just how far he’s gone. When he pushes too far, he creates a rift in the Speed Force – leading to the betrayal that everyone knew was coming, as Hunter Zolomon takes advantage of the chaos to claim what he sees as his destiny – the mantle of the Flash. Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal indeed. In the middle of all this, though, are some fascinating expansions of the mythology of the Speed Force and its counterparts that are going to turn this title on its head in coming months. This arc has been one of the high points of the run so far, and it’s clear Williamson is building what is likely to be a definitive Flash run.

Flash #49 page 4
Arguing at super-speed. Image via DC Comics

Corrina: The race to destroy the Speed Force finally shows what the consequences could be for the world. It would have been good if the story had laid out that this might happen, as part of Barry’s arsenal of logic. “Innocents could die, Wally, with what we’re doing,” would have been a good tactic.

But this was a compelling issue because it’s impossible not to sympathize with Wally and because Barry has been so wrapped up in his mess that he’s been ignoring Wally’s real issues and problems. Barry has been selfish and Wally had no one else who understand at all, which Hunter noticed and no one else did.

As far as Hunter’s betrayal, that was telegraphed a little too much, so it made Wally seem more like an idiot than he should have been. Still, the issue drips with emotion, our heroes are in a horrible spot, and the outcome is likely to be utterly unpredictable.

Note: For you rumble nerds out there, this issue firmly established that both Flashes are faster than Superman.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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