Professor Zoom is up to his old tricks. He’s taken over the body of Barry Allen because he wants to be The Flash. So after running around doing good deeds, he seeks out the recently-returned-to-reality Bart Allen.
After a warm-up race, Zoom-Flash tracks down three of the Rogues he’s been working with; he’d told Golden Glider, Captain Cold and the Trickster to stay put with Gorilla Grodd, the Turtle and the Tornado Twins, but they couldn’t resist pulling a side job or two. Zoom-Flash makes an example of The Trickster, causing Bart to speak up, urging that he gets the badly hurt James Jesse to hospital.
Barry, meanwhile, is in what he believes to be the Speed Force, where he meets two old friends.
And back in the real world, girlfriend Iris is holed up in Blue Valley with teen speedsters Kid Flash and The Flash of China, where she has a reunion with Bart.
There’s a lot more to this issue, but it’s one an irregular reader could easily jump into and enjoy so I shan’t reveal all. Sure, there’s an awful lot of Flash lore referenced – ranging from Bart’s brief turn as an adult Flash to Barry’s New 52 Speed Thinking – but I’m pretty confident there’s enough context that any comics fan worth their salt could get into the story. I love the history, and I love the heart – how Grandma is Iris there? And how like a kid that after searching alternate reality after alternate reality to find his long-lost family, Bart is too awkward to face them when he’s finally on the right world in the right time.
I love that, piece by piece, writer Joshua Williamson is reassembling the Flash Family, and so far as changing realties is concerned, getting everyone up to speed. While it’s likely Jesse Quick. Max Mercury and company will all play a part in Zoom’s downfall, don’t bet against one particular member of the (cringe alert) Legion of Zoom tripping him up big-time. I won’t spoil the moment, but let’s just say they’re right here, twirling an imaginary moustache.
It’s a two art-team issue, with Rafa Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona handling the real world pages, and Scott Kolins and Arif Prianto the Trapped Barry scenes. The demarcation works nicely, with the former pairing’s comics naturalism perfect for the regular world and the more stylised pages by the other Duo just-so for the Maybe Speed Force sequences.
Hi-Fi adds bags of energy with bursts of colour and Steve Wands supplies the attractive lettering, including a glorious title reveal. On the opening splash page, Sandoval and Tarragona are credited with the cover but it’s actually by Howard Porter – I suspect a deadline crunch or story change prompted a last-minute swap.
This issue is very much the continuation of last issue’s story – heck, it’s billed as the culmination of Williamson’s entire run – so heaven knows why it’s supposedly the first chapter of a new story. But there you have it, this is Finish Line Part One and I’m praying Williamson sticks the landing. Wally West is mentioned here, but according to a recent interview his story will conclude in a Death Metal one-shot, Speed Metal, published the same day as his final issue. While Williamson says he’s determined to leave Wally in a good place, it seems pretty unfair to readers who have followed his entire run in this book that they have to buy an event special to see him ‘wrap it all up and put a nice bow on top’.
How I hate Death Metal! I suppose I’m going to have to buy it, though, so watch for some thoughts here. Meanwhile, this is a well-crafted, fun Flash issue, definitely worth your time.