The Flash #55
Coming off of the "Grips of Strength" arc, in which Barry encountered Axel Walker, the Trickster, while Trickster was in possession of the newly freed Strength Force, we see many repeating patterns so far with the new "Speed of Thought" arc. The issue opens with a cameo from Justice League Dark as they and Barry take down a rampaging Solomon Grundy while Barry internally soliloquizes on his relationship to the Halloween holiday. With Grundy handled, Barry meets Iris and some friends at a local bar where we discover that the time-stranded Commander Cold has taken a job as a drink slinger. The feud between Barry and Cold continues.
Meanwhile, at Iron Heights prison, Mick Rory, Heatwave, returns from a therapy session and inexplicably self-combusts, landing him in the infirmary. Barry begins to see visions of a judging and dead Wally West (see Heroes in Crisis #1 for more on Wally), but then gets the call to go investigate the happenings at Iron Heights. Iron Heights is then assaulted and decimated by fire monsters before Heatwave arrives, transformed by the Sage Force.
I have been a fan of Williamson’s run on The Flash, but I can’t help but feel the ramifications of “Flash War” has left the writer fatigued and with entirely too much fallout to handle. Everything about this new arc feels like a rehash of the previous arc, in that both are dealing with Rogues mysteriously imbued with new Force powers. There is the obvious connection to Iron Heights, where the Big Bad Warden Wolfe oversees all, and undoubtedly we will see Barry infected with the Sage Force before he’s able to solve how the Sage Force actually works. When will we get at the mystery surrounding Commander Cold’s identity? When we learn the fate of the Renegades and who escaped from Iron Heights in the future? Where did Bart Allen zip off to? It is now five issues post-“Flash War” and all we’ve done is fall into a freak-of-the-week pattern and hinted at bigger things happening.
The “Grips of Strength” arc was elevated somewhat due to the art from Christian Duce, but the return of Scott Kolins for “Speed of Thought” does not go far in helping this narrative find its footing. I wouldn’t call myself a Kolins fan, but typically I don’t find myself disliking his style, where in this issue, I did. There was a lack of crispness in this issue that made it felt rushed, and with a bi-weekly shipping schedule, that may very well be the case. There are few books that I can find a solid argument for shipping bi-weekly, and unfortunately, The Flash is not one of those books.
I am a long-time believer that The Flash is a must-read title if you are following any of the DCU titles, but at this moment in time, the series is clearly in a rut and struggling to find its way out.
The Flash #55: Second Verse, Same as the First
Writing - 5/10
Storyline - 3/10
Art - 4/10
Color - 6/10
Cover Art - 8/10
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