Barry searches for answers to the damaged Force Barrier and the newly loosed forces in this new arc. Who will be the next old foe to gain strange new powers?
THE FLASH (2016) #52 “Grips of Strength Part 1”
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Christian Duce
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover Artist: Dan Mora variant by Gabriele Dell’Otto
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Publisher: DC COMICS
After convening a council of Flashes from across the Multiverse (see below for as many as I was able to confidently identify), Barry receives little in the way of new details regarding the damaged force barriers. Meanwhile, in Central City, Trickster was being questioned regarding Kristen’s growing case against Warden Wolfe with the Para-Angels broke in and attempted to silence him. Barry was in pursuit, the arrival of Commander Cold, still stranded in the 21st century, interrupted Barry, enabling Trickster to seemingly escape. Escape he did not, however, as it is revealed that Trickster is now in possession of the Strength Force and ready to rampage over the disrespect he feels he has been treated with by everybody he comes across.
As is often inevitable after such a stellar arc like “Flash War” was, the beginnings of “Grips of Strength” almost reads as a bit of a letdown, through no fault of any of the creative team. The drama and action have been ratcheted up so much over the past several months that anything short of Multiverse-altering reveals every issue feels like a step backward. As with some of the previous arcs in this run, though, there is a definite sense of the larger picture with this arc. The continued development of Iris and her returned memories, and the way she isn’t fully forthcoming with Barry regarding them leaves readers with a sense of major ramifications to come. The tension between Commander Cold and Barry seems slightly out-of-focus in that it doesn’t feel quite right but is, nevertheless, an interesting direction to take the pair, setting up an almost buddy-cop formula.
The obvious fun moment of the issue was the Council of Flashes (reminiscent of the CW’s The Flash television series and the “Council of Wells”). Duce’s art was gorgeous throughout, but the care put into this two-page spread by the entire creative team is a welcome reminder that the team doesn’t just look at this run as a job: there is love in these pages as well.
Thanks to a handful of friends (John Jack, Trey Campbell, Lawrence Lee, and Michael Anthony… couldn’t have gotten this far without you guys!), we’ve managed to identify a fair amount of the Flashes featured in this image, although a number still elude us. Here’s the list of Flashes we’ve spotted in order of their home Earth number. If you’ve got more, please share!
Earth 1 – Barry Allen
Earth 3 – Johnny Quick (Crime Syndicate… possibly)
Earth 9 – Lia Nelson (Tangent)
Earth 12 – Danica Williams (Justice League Beyond)
Earth 18 – Billy the Kid (Justice Riders)
Earth 19 – Accelerated Man (Gotham by Gaslight)
Earth 22 – Flash (Kingdom Come)
Earth 26 – Fastback (Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew)
Earth 29 – Bizarro Flash (Bizarroworld)
Earth 30 – Blitzkrieg (Red Son)
Earth 32 – Aquaflash (Convergence)
Earth 35- Mercury Man (Super-Americans)
Earth 36 – Red Racer (Justice 9)
Earth 39 – Accelerator (Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R.)
Earth 42 – Lil’ Flash (Lil’ Gotham)
Earth 44 – Mercury Flash (Dr. Tornado)
Earth ?? – Mary Maxwell (Stan Lee’s … Just Imagine)
Final Thought: I have a feeling that, as this arc develops, the focus and magnitude will grow, but for now, it’s a fun arc that doesn’t feel quite as powerful as we’ve grown accustomed to lately. We’ve clearly been spoiled.
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