THE FLASH #50 Review – Jail time for Barry?

Flash 50 CoverAs we left last issue, a mysterious benefactor gave Trickster the means to capture The Flash on behalf of the Rogues, deputized temporarily by the Central City Police Department. They have finally captured the man Captain Frye believes to be a public menace…now what? How can Barry get past this situation? Who is behind all this? You will get at least some of the answers in this over-sized anniversary issue. What to know more? Just follow us after the jump…

SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Flash is under arrest and Trickster looks to be the hero of the day, though he can’t seem to explain just how his trick arm is keeping Flash under control. Captain Frye may be satisfied with the situation, but Iris West and Henry Allen have very different ideas. Iris confronts Frye to no avail, but Henry Allen has (as singer Garth Brooks once crooned) “friends in low places” and takes action to save Barry.

How could he do that? Henry calls in a favor from a guard at Iron Heights, and he uses Girder’s help to free Barry from Iron Heights. Girder has the idea of bringing in help from Overload…and it works…but it also creates more trouble (we’ll come back to that).  Meanwhile…

Trickster meets his benefactor, the Riddler! Riddler reveals that he has Heat Wave in captivity, and Trickster realizes things are not what he had hoped. All Axel really wanted was to prove himself to be as good as the rest of the Rogues, but now…

No chance to change, though – Riddler has rigged Axel’s new arm with an explosive device, along with another surprise that we’ll see near the end of the issue.

Back to Iron Heights, where Girder’s plan to release Barry uses Overload – it works, but Overload then turns on everyone, placing the guards in danger.  The newly freed Flash saves the guards from certain death at the hands of Overload and Frye is confused…the “public menace” Flash could have easily left them to their fates, but as Barry said, “It’s what I do.” But, after saving everyone, Flash comes up once again against the Rogues.

This time, the Rogues have their act together. Teaming up they injure Flash and are about to capture him. Just then, the drones (the ones that tracked Barry – and Wally – earlier) appear and reconfigure.  They are now set to capture Flash without the Rogues’ help. Worse yet, Axel turns on the Rogues, using that special arm the Riddler gave him. The drones are Riddler’s creation, and now, Edward Nigma finally reveals himself to the Flash and to Central City!

That’s where we leave Barry for now…and we move to a back-up feature for Wally, marking the next significant chapter in his development as Kid Flash. This story brings the New52 origin of Wally West full circle – the future version of Wally that died after becoming the silver-clad Kid Flash is now established as being from an alternate future timeline, just as the Blue Future Barry turned out to be. But, the speed force energy did not go away. “When the lightning touched you (Wally), it became a conduit. The (speed force) energy returned to you, where it belongs.”  In other words, Wally now is imbued with the Speed Force, and begins to manifest this in interesting (if a bit prankish) ways.  His use of speed to deal with a bully is funny, but more importantly it gives us a glimpse of the once and future Kid Flash.

NOTES: Van Jensen wrote both stories, with a large and talented group of artists involved in the two stories.  I liked how this issue was handled – all too often, anniversary issues are handled like a high school yearbook, with a lot of fluff but not much plot development. In this case, the story was driven forward effectively without losing sight of the importance of a 50th issue. My one quibble is watching a Batman villain somehow get the best of all the Rogues at one time. As a long time fan of Flash’s Rogues Gallery (and always liking the Flash’s Rogues more than Batman’s bad guys), this bothered me. It’s my hope that somehow in this storyline we’ll see the Rogues give Nigma his comeuppance.  Other than that, this was an excellent issue. It was great seeing Henry Allen come through for his son, and to see Barry being true to his character in protecting even the guards and officers who so wrongly took him into custody. I’m looking forward to what comes next as we have two more issues before a new direction and creative team step in.

What did YOU think? Leave your comments here!

4 thoughts on “THE FLASH #50 Review – Jail time for Barry?

  1. Steve

    The main story felt a lot like the original Iron Heights mini, except with a lot less tension. Must have had something to do with the villains used and the fact that Overload was standing in for Fallout.

    The backup story with Wally was OK, I guess, but it really felt more like a children’s book than a comic. I realized that a huge part of that is that the writing team still leans very heavily on cliches. In the same way that NuWally was created to be a paint-by-numbers sidekick, he is joined in this tale by a paint-by-numbers bully and a paint-by-numbers high school gym teacher. Well-worn cliches, all of them.

    To anyone who wishes to defend Jensen and Vendetti from accusations of lazy characterization, I will simply point out that pages earlier we had a scene where a villain, in order to demonstrate to the readers that he is TOTALLY SMART, plays a game of chess with himself. Because that is how he sees his battle with the Flash. As a game of chess. Because he’s totally smart, you guys. The storytelling is almost suffocating me with its freshness.

    And of course, Wally West fans will be ecstatic to know that the story continues DC’s brilliant treatment of the character in teasing that he might do something awesome someday. Obviously not on the day you are reading this book, because that is a day for cliches and foreshadowing. But some day, DC swears, some day he might be awesome.

    You know what would make more sense, DC? Just write him being awesome. Our hearts can take it, promise. Just write the new Wally West doing things other than being arrested and dying, and I have a feeling people will take to it more than this exercise in monotony. Maybe he punches a bad guy without immediately dying thereafter? These are all ideas worth thinking about.

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  2. Steve

    The issue was pretty standard fare. C-, maybe? It suffers from trying to echo greatness and replacing it with mediocrity. As much as I dislike Vendetti and Jensen’s run overall, they really are capable of so much better.

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  3. Mr. F

    This all sounds so terribly boring and pointless I couldn’t really finish reading the summary…but as I scrolled through I saw the name Girder.

    Wasn’t he killed during Gorilla Warfare? I could be mistaken.

    Either way, when is someone going to break it to Geoff Johns that Girder is not and will never be a cool character. His primary function (aside from being a rusting rapist/lamest rogue ever) is to haunt the backgrounds of panels that take place at Iron Heights or to casually get punched out by Flash during the first pages of a story that is ultimately about something far more interesting. Yet, ever since the New 52 reboot (or as I like to call it, the Didio/Johns-FanFicverse), they’ve been trying to play up his importance as if he’s not (pretty literally) a walking piece of corroding garbage.

    SPOILERS
    In the TV-show he was this antagonistic bully who is tied through a tired trope to Barry’s past. If I remember correctly he is later killed but before bites the rust he has some sort of redeeming moment, as if they wanted new fans to think, “Oh…wow…Girder actually isn’t too bad,” and go check him out in the comics. Now here, Girder is the one masterminding Barry’s escape from Iron Heights?
    /SPOILERS

    I can’t imagine any writer being interested enough in Girder to want to explore his personality or flesh him out and likewise, I can’t imagine any fan caring enough about that character to want to do have anything to do with him other than the brief moments were they tear the affiliated pages out of their book (Aside from Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics Geoffrey Johns of course, who has blessed us with hordes of scores of other, equally creatively-bankrupt characters like the Justice League’s David Graves, the unbelievably-uninteresting yet aptly-named “Others” and a seemingly infinite horde of variously colored Lanterns of the Mighty Rainbow of Emotional Power). By this logic I assume that any appearance of Girder post-New52 has been editorially mandated rather than for purposes of telling a compelling story.

    Someone…no…all of us need to let Geoff and DC know that we don’t want Girder. In fact, I think I’ll head over to twitter right now and do just that. In the meantime, still boycotting Marvel comics, superhero movies of all kinds and eagerly awaiting the end of the Venditti/Van Jensen run so I can give my co-favorite superhero another shot at my comic book collection.

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  4. Lee H

    The main story left me cold, but I liked the backup. Great art by Joe Eisma. I like that there was finally pay-off for the future version of Wally West (it all seemed so pointless the first time around). I kind of get the impression that this development was originally supposed to happen during the Future Flash arc.

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