The Flash #764 – Kevin Shinick, Writer; Will Conrad, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: For his second story, fill-in Flash writer Kevin Shinick goes back to the earlier days of the Flash’s rogue’s gallery and digs up an old enemy – Dr. Alchemy, a rival chemist of Barry Allen’s who has gained the power of the Philosopher’s Stone. This is a good change of pace, as Barry seems to spend almost all his time battling gimmick crooks and evil speedsters. Alchemy has no powers on his own, but his mind combined with his weapon makes him one of the Flash’s deadliest enemies – and this issue shows that off well. After a brief prelude with Iris, Barry’s first battle with Alchemy shows how the villain has no problem taking advantage of Barry’s better nature – as well as bending the laws of nature to turn concrete into liquid and bullets into toxic gas. While he’s not as fast as Flash by any means, the way his powers work means he has a much easier time getting ahead of the hero than any other villain.
Shinick has obviously done a lot of thought into the way Dr. Alchemy’s powers work and how they tie into other forces in the DCU. This issue features a surprising tie-in to the Metal Men, and a look at the history of the Philosopher’s Stone going back decades is intriguing. It’s also a bit of an infodump, making this issue veer wildly between action-packed storytelling and narration-driven backmatter. But after that digression, we head back to the rematch between Flash and Alchemy, and there’s a surprising twist at the end as we discover that Alchemy has figured out how to affect his enemy’s biggest weapon – his speed. This is part one of three before the title shifts to Endless Winter, and the threat here seems to be big enough to justify a whole arc. It’s the kind of clever old-school story that shows what a hero does when a new villain (or old villain) sends them firmly out of their depths.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.