The Flash #67 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Scott Kolins, Artist; Luis Guerrero, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Mind Control…Rape?
Ray: When writers establish long runs on a character, they usually pick up specific villains that become their trademark on the run. Josh Williamson, having now exceeded Geoff Johns’ tenure on The Flash, has mostly worked with originals and a variety of classics – but he seems to be working on setting up the original Trickster, James Jesse, as the biggest threat he’s ever been.
That’s an odd choice, given that Jesse was consistently the most moral of the Rogues and even went straight for a while in the 1990s. The last issue, though, Williamson set up Trickster as an obsessive prankster who saw the con and the ability to distract his targets as his top skill. Now, his master plan for Central City goes into effect just as Barry is hitting his lowest point. Grieving the loss of Wally West and dealing with Iris leaving him, Barry returns in Flash #67 to a Central City that seems oddly, unnaturally…happy. And it doesn’t take long for him to realize this isn’t just a normal good mood.
The issue has an eerie Stepford quality, as wherever Barry goes he finds people acting out of character with bizarre grins on their faces. He busts up a child-murder cult (with some major easter eggs tying into one of DC’s biggest events), and drops off the mastermind at Iron Heights – only for the grim Warden Wolfe to greet him with a big smile and tell him how little crime there’s been lately. Visiting his workplace as the CCPD, he finds Director Singh and Detective Burns all enjoying life – and fellow investigator Kristen has a new boyfriend named James Jesse. When Barry tries to push against this bizarre parallel world, he finds that pressing too hard about his questions results in people self-harming and turning on him like zombies. There’s very little of Trickster in this issue, but it’s clear he’s brainwashed the entire city and has a much larger plan here. It’s not the strongest issue of the series, but it does its job in setting up suspense in spades.
Corrina: I almost feel like Barry’s narrative in this issue is talking to me, given that he recaps one of my complaints from past issues: that finding the other Force only resulted in fighting and gave him no answers. (I know, that’s not the case, but still….) Plus, Iris is gone and I hope that’s not permanent. (I remember Williamson talking about the road trip for Iris and Barry as not quite a honeymoon, so the break-up seems particularly frustrating.) And Barry still doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing.
But…a good villain can overcome a lot of story issues and James Jesse is a good villain, with a clear motive, and he’s created a situation that seems creepy and nearly unsolvable, even with super-speed.
But, yes, I have a big complaint about this issue. We see three women. Iris leaves. Barry’s CSI partner, Kristen, has been brainwashed into being the Trickster’s girlfriend (and those are some seriously rapey connotations there with his arm around her), and the cop who was working with Cold smacks her head into a table until it’s bloody. That’s three women, one vanishes and two are assaulted in this issue.
I know, I know, everyone is affected, but one woman is chosen to showcase the violence behind the “be happy” order and Kristen gets a horrifying part that is full of sexual assault (if she can’t consent and he’s got his arm around her, close to him..) if not rape.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.