The Flash #76 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Rafa Sandoval, Penciller; Jordi Tarragona, Inker; Tomeu Morey, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: The Return of Young Wallace
Ray: After three months spent in the past with Barry Allen revisiting his earlier years, Joshua Williamson’s run on The Flash returns to the present – and Barry Allen’s life is a mess. His relationship with Iris is shattered by Wally West’s recent “death” and the following events, his former sidekicks no longer trust him, and his understanding of the new Forces is thin and threatening the world more by the day. However, as the issue opens, he’s starting to put the pieces back together. He jumps into the fray to help Kid Flash and Avery Ho take out Tarpit and Girder, attempting to make amends for his past negligence. While Wallace is suspicious, Avery seems a little friendlier and it’s great to see one of the best characters from the lamented New Super-Man title get more to do here. Barry even debuts a new addition to the team – a Speed Lab to try to figure out the new Forces with the help of Commander Cold and the mysterious Steadfast.
However, crises are on the horizon. Studies of the Speed Force show that it’s weakening by the day and the culprit is the new Forces. Meanwhile, as the Flashes are getting weaker, the Rogues are getting stronger – both Captain Cold and Heat Wave have new upgraded powers thanks to Lex Luthor and manhandle the Central City police force with ease. Frankly, the Year of the Villain tie-in seems perfunctory – two of the Rogues got new gear, like they do regularly, but it’s a fairly minor change compared to what some of the villains have gotten. They’re not even the big threat this issue – that would be the mysterious Black Flash, who is one of the most dangerous villains in Flash history and usually shows up when a Flash is about to die – but is here for a very different reason this time. There’s a LOT going on in this issue, but it makes for a great start to a new arc filled with familiar heroes and villains.
Corrina: The creation of the Speed Lab seems to call back to the creation of a similar lab back when the new Speedsters were all created. That ended so badly–with two of the new speedsters on the wrong side and some of them murdered–that I’m hoping this one ends well because that element was one of the best parts of Williamson’s long run.
At its best, Williamson’s Flash has been surrounded by allies just like Mark Waid’s classic run was, most of all, a Flash family series. A Flash book needs its speedster family. (Can I hope Flash #76 is preparing the way for Impulse to join this title eventually?)
The opening action sequence mixes dialogue nicely with action, as the Flashes basically take out Tarpit and Girder with ease. The tension in these panels isn’t from the fight, it’s from the distrust Wallace and Avery hold for Barry.
The Black Flash’s appearance offers a chance to trim down the other Force users eventually, yes, but, at this point, I’m thinking he’s related to Hunter Zolomon and that spells trouble. No wonder Barry needs allies.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.