Paradox has sent the Flash to the afterlife... some sort of paradise, if nothing else... where he's reunited with his mother, and at last he can rest after a life of good deeds!
But is it real? Or just a trap laid by Paradox?
The Flash #752 slows things down a bit after the hectic pacing of “Flash Age” parts one and two. Barry finds himself in a seeming paradise, but even though readers should be canny enough to know it’s a ruse, writer Josh Williamson is smart enough not to draw the illusion out too long. Barry figures out – in a way only the Flash could – that his heaven isn’t real pretty darn quick, and the stakes only escalate from there. It’s a bit by-the-numbers, ultimately, but Williamson ties the arc of this issue into Paradox’s origin in such a way that it works nonetheless.
And, let it be said – the soft moments between Barry and his mother – fake though she may be – are tender and heartfelt. It’s not quite heartbreaking when Barry so swiftly sees through Paradox’s world, but it stings nonetheless. Barry – since 2009-10’s Flash Rebirth, anyway – has been perpetually motivated by the death of his mother. (And since that retconned origin has been sanctified by the CW’s Flash show for six seasons now, don’t expect that to change anytime soon.) Being rewarded with a few fleeting moments reunited at her side is sweet, if only for that brief amount of time (and not real).
The key here is that instead of having Barry lean too far into the fakery around him, he figures it out quickly enough to subvert readers’ expectations. Lesser writers would have drawn the trope out for far too long, resulting in a wasted issue. Not Williamson. From there, it’s onto the “Speed Force Hell” (for lack of a better name), where Barry starts to put together the pieces of the puzzle regarding Paradox’s origins, and makes a startling – if somewhat contrived – revelation as to who can help him defeat this new menace. It all goes back to the Flash’s new(ish) origin, creating a narrative symmetry – whether or not it actually works, though, is a mystery for next issue.
“Flash Age” is the strongest Flash arc in a long while. It gets right down to the core of who and what the Flash is, and creates a sympathetic antagonist in Paradox. Even if he wins, the Flash may very well lose the moral victory regardless. That’s top-notch storytelling, and shouldn’t be missed by any superhero buff. The art duties this issue segue from Christian Duce to Flash artist extraordinaire Howard Porter, and as ever, every page looks exceptional. He inks his own work this issue, and every panel is brought to immaculate life by Hi-Fi’s coloring. It’s always a treat when Porter joins the show; though it’s a shame that DC’s accelerated twice-monthly publishing schedule means he couldn’t draw the entire arc. Everything Williamson has been building toward since his run began in 2016 seems to be leading to this story – it would be nice to have a consistent artist (regardless of who it was, really) throughout what appears to be his magnum opus.
Flash #752 slows down just a hair and gives its protagonist some space to breathe... in Heaven? Things aren't what they seem, but just because the story has swerved into new territory, doesn't mean "Flash Age" should be missed!
The Flash #752: O Mother, Where Art Thou?
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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