The Flash #56 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Scott Kolins, Artist; Luis Guerrero, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: A Mind At War
Ray: As the mysterious new forces unleashed by Flash War continue to unravel Central City, Flash and a new ally find themselves up against a Heat Wave more powerful than ever in Flash #56. When we last left off, Heat Wave was horribly burned in an explosion and somehow began generating powerful flame ghosts – that seemingly killed everyone in Iron Heights, including Flash’s partner Kristen. He’s now trapped in a burned wasteland with the skeptical Detective Burns – who has no love lost for speedsters. It soon becomes clear thanks to Flash’s detective skills that the bodies surrounding them aren’t what they appear – the entire scenario is just a bit too perfect, and Flash and Burns aren’t actually in Iron Heights – they’re in Heat Wave’s brain, courtesy of the Sage Force. While the Strength Force was a brute instrument, the Sage Force is a puzzle box that threatens to consume anyone trapped in it alive. Scott Kolins’ art does a great job of capturing the slightly surreal vibe taking place in the mindscape.
There are essentially two dramas going on at the same time in this issue. One, in the real world, finds Iris and Commander Cold battling to keep Flash and Burns from being consumed by the psychic residue and trying to get answers from Warden Wolfe. The other, and far more compelling drama, is the one taking place in Heat Wave’s mind. As they slowly make their way through the world of the mind, encountering one threat after another, they search for Heat Wave’s “lightning rod” – the psychic link to his power that keeps him sane. What they find is a replica of his childhood home, the one place he always felt safe – and the place he destroyed when he was young. Heat Wave has long been portrayed as a victim of his own compulsions, not someone who chose to be a criminal. That sets him apart from the rest of the Rogues but also makes him more dangerous. And in the cliffhanger, it becomes clear his connection to the Sage force may endanger the whole world. This is a highly effective, suspenseful issue with a great take on a compelling Rogue.
Corrina: It’s a compelling take on this rogue, in that Heatwave’s obsession with fire is literally consuming him from the inside out, via the Sage Force.
Like the Strength Force, I’m still super-fuzzy on how these new “forces” work but unlike the Strength Force arc, I’m completely invested in what’s happened to Heatwave and Flash as a result of its appearance. Heatwave is so full of emotional pain and rage that it practically drips off the page, with the help of Kolins’ art.
Heatwave has been a one-note rogue when I’ve seen him in Flash comics (so different from his portrayal in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow television show) but my affection from television Rory is bleeding over to comics Rory, especially as it’s exploring his original pain, covered in the show as well.
I expect Barry will sort this out, somehow, though I begin to wonder if it will end well for Rory.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.