Our present-day Barry Allen is trapped in the Speed Force, powerless, while his alternate future-Barry (the “All-New, All-Murderous Flash”) has taken over his life. The Speed Force has more secrets than we thought, and the people Barry loves may be getting their first real hints that something is wrong here – all in the latest issue of THE FLASH!
LIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD
Barry has been taken to a fort (yes, a wooden fort!) in the middle of the Speed Force, led by a man from 1911 known as Selkirk. There are people from a variety of times and ages there, including one from the year 2054 – but all of them are not trapped in the endless day known as the Speed Force. This is a very different look than the Speed Force we’ve known, even different from previous New 52 versions (explained as “one of the other islands”). Still, they recognize Barry’s lightning bolt emblem as having special meaning – and they believe there may be hope yet for Barry to regain his powers. But first, they need to ward off an attack from others in the Speed Force and their fantastic animal horde!
Meanwhile, Future-Barry is acting in a way that raises concern among his friends and loved ones, particularly Patty. This alt-Barry is all too comfortable with bad guys getting what they “deserved” (“You ask me, justice was served.). And, there’s the matter of the autopsy on that guy Future-Barry killed last issue – watch how this one plays out in future issues.
This is a story in two parts. The part following present-day Barry is a grand adventure, with a powerless Barry Allen fighting to survive. Even though we can guess he will eventually regain his powers and leave the Speed Force, it’s the journey here that is so much fun. The only quibble I have is with his uniform.
In FLASH #0 by Manapul and Buccellato, the uniform was supposedly made of metal plates that expand and contract as needed to form his uniform. It was a new twist for the New 52, as opposed to the old fabric uni that expanded when it left Barry’s ring. In the FLASH’s SECRET ORIGINS issue, it appeared that we had returned to a fabric uniform – and now in this issue we seem to confirm that retcon. I’m okay with it, just a minor quibble, but I would doubt that metal plates would tear in the same pattern we see here.
Other than that, the artwork was amazing – thanks to Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse. As for the Future-Barry parts of the story…
I realize I’m not supposed to like this alt-Barry from the future – on that point the writers have scored a 10, because I really, really don’t like Future-Barry. Like the other storyline, we know within reason that it will end at some point as our Barry returns to face him one more time – but I’m at a point that this can’t happen soon enough. I realize there will be some great changes to the FLASH universe as a part of this tale, and I do look forward to how that will turn out, but I’m hopeful that this won’t take too many more issues (although it will likely at the least run up to CONVERGENCE). Still, I do like that Patty is already wondering – and I look forward to what happens when she figures everything out.
Overall, a solid-though-not-spectacular issue by Robert Venditti and Van Jensen – I’m hoping to see more of Barry’s adventures in the Speed Force and a fast return to wrap up the Future-Flash storyline so we can see what happens next in our Barry’s world.