This is what we’ve been waiting for…for Professor Zoom to show his hand. The hunt is over and the battle begins on several fronts. The police blame Barry for the recent destruction in Central City, and Professor Zoom blames Barry for…well, just about everything bad in history. Things are stacked up against the Flash in just about every Avway possible, which is where we pick up in “End of the Hunt”, THE FLASH #46!
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD
Avoiding capture by the police is one thing – Barry can do it, though it deeply saddens him to go against the man who raised him (Capt. Frye). But, can anyone avoid Professor Zoom? Thawne has shown up with (almost) his entire team – and that’s the key here. He left Magali for dead after stealing her power with the device he forced Henry Allen to make. But, Magali is not quite dead, and she has just enough power to get back into the game just as Professor Zoom shows his true nature.
I’ve been wondering how Robert Venditti and Van Jensen could write Barry out of the spot they’ve put him in, against a team that clearly outmatches him led by someone with seeming full control of time. Our favorite speedster isn’t out of trouble yet…but we see some hope here as Zoom’s team falls apart in the only way that would make sense. They finally see Thawne for who he is, and what his true plans are. Like most classic villains, Thawne’s downfall begins with his own hubris – and of course by not assuring that the “dead” are truly dead. Magali’s survival leads to the team’s discovery of Thawne’s plans, and they turn on him, giving Barry a chance he would otherwise never have had.
All that said, we are far from done with this arc. Thawne is still immensely powerful, has time-related abilities that appear very similar to Hunter Zolomon, and that give him an advantage over Barry. The conclusion of this issue takes us back “to the beginning”, resolving part of Barry’s troubles while somehow still magnifying the tension of the storyline.
NOTES: This issue was one of the best of the arc so far for me. Thawne’s team had become so powerful, so well-oiled a machine that taking them any further would have been overkill. Having this happen now not only brings the battle back to Flash vs. Professor Zoom (what we’ve been anxious to see for some time), but it also preserves these characters for some really great stories down the road. Will any of them become allies of the Flash, or will they continue to fight against him down the road? Either way I hope we see more of them.
As for Thawne, it’s really fun to compare the Professor Zoom of today’s comics to the Zoom of the TV show. The look is certainly different, but the level of obsession with the Flash is the same – and so is the idea of having an overwhelming set of powers for Barry to fight. Both are frightening in their own way, and both appear most worthy adversaries for the Scarlet Speedster.
As for the artwork, I have been and still am a fan of Brett Booth’s pencils, along with Norm Rapmunds inks and Andrew Dalhouse’s color work. Each has some critical contributions to the impact of this issue. Just check out the excellent page layouts, the expression, Henry Allen’s kicking down the door, the motion blur of Barry’s punch to Thawne (and the result), and the use of color versus black & white to show the impact of Thawne’s own power set. My only hope is that we can someday see Roscoe’s face again (though it is interesting to picture The Top as a constant whirl).
SUMMARY: One of the best issues of the arc, one that sets up a battle I can’t wait to see next issue. What do YOU think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!