Professor Zoom has gathered his crew, and his plans are coming together (if a bit slowly). But, this issue highlights the relationship of Henry Allen and his son…and just how far Dr. Allen is willing to go to protect Barry. We are far from reaching the bottom of the rabbit hole in this mystery, but there are some interesting hints as to who (and how many) are involved, all in issue #43 of THE FLASH!
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!
This issue begins with the classic “bwa-ha-ha” moment where Professor Zoom explains his desire to do more than kill Barry – he wants first to ruin his life, “expose” him for “the greatest evil this world has known”. What we don’t know yet is why Eobard Thawne wants to do this so badly (yes, I know there are plenty of explanations in prior continuities, but as for now…). However, we really don’t pick up on this again until the very end of the issue.
Where we spend the majority of the page count is Henry Allen and his attempts to protect his son. Barry manages to catch up to Henry and tries to convince him to turn himself in. But, Henry is on a mission, one that involves getting help from the Flash, the one man who can deal with he-who-shall-not-be-named-to-Barry (meaning of course Thawne). Interestingly, perhaps strangely, Barry lets his dad go to pursue other leads instead of bringing him in. No, it doesn’t match Barry’s dedication to the law, but at the same time it does illuminate Barry’s conflict in deciding just what the right thing to do may be in this very difficult situation.
There is an aside that brings Wally into the story, wearing a definite foreshadowing of his future Kid Flash costume. This scene brings Wally’s development up a few notches, showing him finding a positive purpose in life (related to speed, of course). We’ll see more of that in future issues, but for now…
The Flash is called to the scene of a hostage situation…one that was set up just so Henry Allen can ask The Flash to protect Barry Allen. It is in this conversation that Henry talks about Eobard Thawne, describing him as the “madman” who killed Nora Allen, and as someone who is just as fast as The Flash. He asks for the Flash to do whatever it takes to stop Thawne, even to kill Thawne if necessary. That leads up to a battle with Professor Zoom’s crew (including the cover-advertised Folded Man), one that places Henry Allen and Capt. Frye in critical danger, leaving Flash in a unique and perilous situation of his own!
NOTES: Henry Allen is finally speaking clearly about who really killed Nora Allen, and shows that there is some history here that plays into today battles. We also see that Capt. Frye is also aware of Thawne…so we have to wonder just how deep and wide this conspiracy of silence goes. We have one key piece of the puzzle missing…WHY does Eobard Thawne hate Barry Allen so much? We know he messes things up for Thawne, and that Thawne considers him “the greatest evil the world has known”, but why? Without that being known, it makes the initial scene a little bit of a stereotypical villain speech, lacking the depth that this additional piece of knowledge would give. That unfortunately takes away from the drama of the moment and (for now) appears a bit trite. That may change over time, as Henry Allen and Capt. Frye obviously have something BIG to hide that speaks to this very point. The scenes with Henry and Barry are moving, particularly as Henry pours his heart out to the Flash, and I am buying into this part of the tale big time.
SUMMARY: Once you get past the initial I-must-make-Barry-look-bad-before-we-kill-him speech, this is a very good story by Robert Venditti and Van Jensen that lets us peek a little farther down the rabbit hole that is the Professor Zoom mystery. Just why does he hate Barry Allen, and how do Henry Allen and Capt. Frye fit into this? This issue moves the story forward nicely without giving away too much. While the Wally West scene isn’t truly necessary to move the main storyline along, I’m still glad to see some positive developments in the life of the once and future Kid Flash. The only other concern I have about the story is in finding an old Silver Age stunt happening here – the main cover advertises a battle with a character who barely shows up in the book. Yes, Flash and the Folded Man “battle” – but the story has very little to do with that battle. It IS a great cover, and the story is a good story…they just don’t have a lot to do with each other. I’m still a fan of the artwork here by Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse with Wendy Broome – for me, the expression was good and the action sequences were excellent. I’m still looking for the first cosplayer of this new Flash uni with the varying shades of crimson – it’s a pretty complex arrangement but it works quite well here. Overall, I’m still in on this arc, and I’m looking forward to where this story leads.