Grodd has been defeated and the rest of the Flash Family begin to pick up the pieces in Central City in this post-script to “A Perfect Storm” and prelude to “The Flash War”.
THE FLASH (2018) #45 “After the Storm”
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Christian Duce
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover Artist: Barry Kitson & HI-FI; variant by Bryan Hitch & Tomeu Morey
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Publisher: DC COMICS
What You Need to Know:
Two weeks ago, “A Perfect Storm” was concluded with Barry and company defeating Grodd by curing him and severing his ties to the Speed Force. The team stopped the Negative Speed storm before it could spread, but not before it did significant damage to Central City. Godspeed disappeared in the chaos, and Wally West came face to face with Iris.
What You’ll Find Out:
This issue takes place the day after the storm, and the Flash Family is here to pick up the pieces. After the team puts the city back in order, each member addresses not only the fallout of everything that has happened but also seem to gesture towards the future for all the characters involved.
Meena/Negative Flash: We find Meena in prison after her involvement with Grodd and the Black Hole’s machinations, where Barry comes to visit. Meena is (rightfully so) dealing with a fair amount of guilt for her role in the storm, citing that even though she was being controlled by Grodd, she isn’t quite sure how much was Grodd’s influence and how much was out of her own anger at being abandoned in the Speed Force. Of course, in true Barry Allen fashion, Barry reminds Meena that, like it or not, she’s a part of the family, and this family is thick as thieves, as Avery and Wallace run into the room to embrace her.
Wallace West/Kid Flash and Avery/Flash of China: Speaking of the youngest members of the family, now that the battle has been won, it’s time for Avery to go home. There is a slightly awkward exchange between her and Wallace, as both clearly want to spend more time together, yet Wallace seems to miss all the clear signals that Avery is into him. After Avery speeds off flustered, Robin appears to tell Wallace that he would like to talk about the mistakes being made by their father figures (Barry and Bruce, but possibly wider spread). An editor’s note informs us that this talk will be continued in an upcoming Teen Titans Special.
August/Godspeed: Last issue, August disappeared after the team stopped the storm. Having been broken out of jail during the “The Perfect Storm” arc, the natural assumption was that he was fleeing for his freedom, but here, that appears to not be the case. Instead, it appears August was whisked away by an unknown voice offering redemption and a chance to be a hero, two things that mysterious beings rarely offer in the end. It’s too early to speculate too much on who this entity is. I have theories, but nothing to ground them yet.
Barry/Flash: Naturally, Barry is all over this issue, but the pivotal sequence involves him finally having the honest conversation about his life as The Flash with Iris. Iris explains that her desire to know more about this side of his life is to determine which is the mask—Flash or Barry? There are professions of love and finally a kiss that solidly repairs all the damage done in the New 52 as far as I’m concerned. Love and legacy have returned to the DCU, and all is right with the world. After this touching sequence, Barry calls in…
Wally West/Flash: Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for since his return in DC Universe: Rebirth, Wally is face to face with Aunt Iris, and the sequence does not disappoint. After nearly giving in to his anxiety about the meeting and leaving, Iris stops Wally and remembers him. There are tears all around, and everything is magnificent for one. moment. in. time. until Iris asks where everybody else is. It isn’t clear who she is referring to, but presumably, she is asking about Linda, and their two children, which sparks Wally to finally break through whatever barriers were placed on his memories (by Dr. Manhattan, most certainly, right?) and he remembers everything.
What Just Happened?
This issue of The Flash is everything an issue of the series can be and then some. While it was light on action, it was heavy on development, particularly in terms of the relationships that keep readers returning to Flash comics, regardless of who is wearing the mantle. Williamson’s writing in this issue was packed with emotion that carried a visceral reaction in this particular reader, as the family feel of the Flashes has never felt stronger or more needed. From the support given to Meena in spite of everything to Wally’s painful journey from being forgotten, Williamson captures the very essence of Flash. One could say this single issue was lightning in a bottle.
In addition to the sharp writing, Duce’s pencils remain as crisp as ever, and while the layouts don’t particularly add anything creatively to the narrative, the pacing of the graphic narrative was perfect, pausing to dwell in all the right moments.
As we look to the future and the impending “Flash War”, it feels good to pause for a moment and take a deep breath and remember that, unlike many characters and series, Flash has, and always should be founded on the premise of hope and love.
Final Thought: “The Road to Flash War” begins with issue #46, so if you’re late to the party, pick up this issue and The Flash Annual #1 and you’ll be in good shape. This issue marks an excellent jumping on point for new readers. And if there is one thing I’ve learned in 30 or so years of reading comics, Flash Fact: you should always be reading Flash, because no major event in the DCU doesn’t pass through these pages in some capacity.
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