The conclusion of this miniseries — to the extent that it concludes, anyway — is more satisfying than the middle chapter. The story is more solid, and it’s visually more varied as characters with colors beyond black and blue join Blue Lantern Barry Allen onstage.
Speaking of color schemes, I noticed something interesting about the covers: they get progressively brighter. The first issue is mostly black and silver, with a dark blue logo outline. The second issue adds some color by putting Captain Cold in the center, and has a brighter logo outline. By the third issue, Blue Lantern Barry takes up the entire cover, and the logo is again a tiny bit brighter. I don’t know whether it’s intentional, but it’s certainly thematic.
The story follows three main threads: The Rogues in Iron Heights; Captain Boomerang; and the Flashes.
The Rogues’ story gets the least attention this time around. Once again it picks up right where they left off, but instead of focusing on emotional manipulation, it’s basically a dungeon crawl as they try to work out something that will shut down the Black Lantern Rogues. It does, however, give away a little more about the resolution of Flash: Rebirth
Captain Boomerang’s story is a sad one, and while moving, I’m afraid it significantly damages the character for future use. More on this in the spoiler section.
This time around the Flashes’ story works best. Barry Allen is still dealing with an unfamiliar power set, but by this time he’s gotten accustomed to it, rather than spending the entire issue learning how to use the blue ring…plus there are other speedsters around to keep the “Fastest Man Alive” theme on track. There’s also a solid resolution to one of the major story elements from last month.
Of course, since this is a side story to a larger event, it ends — or rather stops — with a big “To be continued” sign as several characters head back into the main Blackest Night story, and the big question from issue #1 is left unanswered.
The core of the issue is the struggle by Flashes Barry Allen and Wally West to free Kid Flash Bart Allen from the influence of the Black Lantern Ring. Bart — or rather, Black Bart — continues to play the Devil’s Advocate role he played early in Flash: Rebirth, this time about the value of keeping Wally West around. At this point, the other Black Lanterns — the ones animating dead bodies rather than controlling live ones — are mere distractions.
It was satisfying to see Kid Flash’s possession resolved in the Flash miniseries, rather than left for Blackest Night itself, and it was good to finally get some solid interaction between Barry and Bart. I can barely remember them speaking to each other in Flash: Rebirth outside of “Where’s Max?” and “I don’t know.”
On the other hand, I would have appreciated the Reverse-Flash’s resurrection actually being handled in a Flash book. Too much to hope for, I suppose, since it’s probably linked to the conclusion of Blackest Night, which they wouldn’t want to spoil two months early. What we did get (showing some sort of link between Thawne’s future self and past self) didn’t even make any sense, though I’m sure it’s a clue toward something happening in the final act of the main series.
The younger Captain Boomerang, Owen Mercer, has captured the Black Lantern-animated corpse of his father “Digger” Harkness, tossed him in a pit, and is tossing down people for him to kill. Owen has bounced around a lot between villain and hero over the years, and hopes he’ll find some sort of direction by bringing his father back…and the Black Lantern has convinced him that it just needs to “feed” on enough people for him to come back. He starts with small-time super-villains whom even the Rogues would find repulsive, and works his way up to innocent bystanders. When the Rogues find out, they toss him into the pit, with predictable results.
It’s grisly. It’s chilling. It’s an effective portrait of someone lost, looking for anything to hold onto, stepping onto the wrong path and being consumed with darkness. But making him a child-killer crosses a line with the character. In the same way Dr. Light’s role in Identity Crisis and Inertia’s role in “Full Throttle” made the characters difficult to use again, this is going to be a problem for Owen — more than his death, because I’m still not convinced that any death is going to stick in a miniseries about the proverbial revolving door.
- Bart Allen’s revival (above) echoed Wally West’s dispersal of Black Lantern Eobard Thawne in issue #2.
- Similar layouts for the two scenes in which Wally and then Barry make contact with the real Bart.
- Lots of close-ups on eyes.
- The view of the Rogues as they catch up to Captain Boomerang to deal with the final zombie, similar to the shot from the end of issue #1 but showing just how much they’ve been through during the battle.
- Mirror images of Barry Allen and Captain Cold as they make almost — but not quite — the same statement about moving forward.
- The final page, with the Flashes running toward the reader and the Rogues trudging away.
I was also reminded — better than last issue, oddly enough — that while the gritty side of Kolins’ art is well-suited for hardened criminals, dark alleys, and not-exactly-zombies, he’s also good at expressing joy, as you can see in the Bart and three-Flashes scans.
Blackest Night: The Flash #3 was better than I expected, had some very satisfying moments, but left certain things — like the key question from the first chapter — frustratingly unresolved. Ultimately, I suspect it will work better for those who are reading it as part of Blackest Night than for those who are attempting to read it on its own.