“Running Scared” Part Two – Review of THE FLASH #26

Joshua Williamson continues to do the near-impossible – giving loving nods to the rich history of the Flash while adding truly fresh twists to the stories of the REBIRTH era. This issue is a great example, with Easter Eggs all around…and a surprising way of bringing it all together! Want to know more? Just follow us after the jump!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

We start in the Flash Museum of the future…but not quite the 25th century. It’s “the near future”, and Iris Allen (yes, Allen) look remarkably like her pre-FLASHPOINT self while Barry has aged…quite a bit. In that future museum we see busts of several speedsters…some of whom have yet to make a formal re-introduction into the DCU. (NOTE: Yes, we have seen a glimpse of Jay, but there is someone with a HUGE collar that I’m sure you’ll recognize, along with…aw, just go take a look, will ya?). Even more fun we see Barry and Iris’ children, known in the Silver Age as the “Tornado Twins”, Don and Dawn Allen. Problem is, they aren’t heroes here…they are tearing apart the entire city!  Our present Barry Allen and Iris West (yes, still West) watch the destruction with Eobard Thawne, who taunts Barry as being the “true villain” of all of this.

Thawne convinces Barry to go away with him, with the promise that he would not harm Iris afterward. Is Barry dumb enough to go along with this? Maybe not dumb enough, but definitely vulnerable enough to agree. Thawne takes him to the Negative Speed Force and dumps him there, intent on returning to kill Iris!

Iris for her part did NOT want Barry to leave…she does feel that connection and wanted to work things out. She almost enters the part of that 25th century museum that would tell her about her own life when Thawne returns. She puts up a good fight…but how can she truly fight a speedster of the power of Thawne? Nope, she is saved by…

A Negative Speed Force Powered Barry Allen!

 

Yes, we have a significant change for Barry…one that will play out over the next few issues of THE FLASH!

NOTES: If you’ve been reading my reviews for any length of time, you will know that I’ve been reading THE FLASH since the 1960s. But, no matter WHAT age of THE FLASH was your entry into the Speed Force, there is something in this issue for you. Almost every page had a nod to prior continuities, and even the plot line shows that there are parts of Barry’s story that will remain constant…even while we see this major shift. No, Thawne hasn’t been able to kill Iris in this timeline, and Don and Dawn Allen are only a possible future right now, but we still see that connection between Barry and Iris that has defined his character for so long. And, the basic qualities that make Barry such a great character remain intact.

Yet, what makes this issue so great is the willingness to use all of that as a springboard for something totally different. Barry revealed to Iris in the worst way possible? Check! Thawne turning the history of Barry Allen inside out? Check! Barry powered by the Negative Speed Force? Check, check, and check! Wow! Can’t wait to see where this takes us next!

SUMMARY: This is one of my favorite issues of Josh Williamson’s run on THE FLASH. Williamson truly “gets” Barry and the dynamics with Iris and with Thawne. Williamson has also mastered how to take significant risks without straying away from the core of the character. The art is outstanding, thanks to Howard Porter (with Hi-Fi colors). I’ll give this one a 10/10. What do YOU think? Leave your comments below!

2 thoughts on ““Running Scared” Part Two – Review of THE FLASH #26

  1. Joshua

    Is anyone else suffering from secret identity fatigue? This issue has so many good things going for it, but the unending drama over Barry’s secret ID is just killing the momentum of this series. We’ve dealt with so much drama on the TV show over the same issue, and the series is finally regaining momentum now that they have finally moved beyond the well-worn “You lied to me! I can never trust you!”

    In the comics universe, we had a great reveal between Barry and new Wally back in Australia, only to have it sabotaged by Wally writing off Barry as a liar. Now we have the same thing with Iris and Reverse Flash. And what’s worse, this has led to Barry stewing in self-doubt and paralysis. Up to the point where he makes the ridiculous choice to go with Thawne in this issue. Enough with sad sack Barry!

    Remember how much fun the return of original Wally was with DC Rebirth? Two people who trusted each other, and understood why they made the decisions they did? That was a Barry you could root for. This is becoming a comic with great art and plots, but with an increasingly unlikeable hero. Please get him back to the hope and joy and trust that should characterize the Flash.

    Am I alone on this?

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  2. Speedo

    I agree with Joshua. I like that they’re bringing parts of the classic Flash mythos back: the Tornado Twins, Eobard Thawne (Daniel West for me will never be a true Reverse Flash), Iris and Barry being a couple (let’s face it, Barry dating around isn’t really interesting – that’s Wally’s thing and it suits his personality better), but at the same time they’re re-doing a lot of the things that should be done with at this point. Also I feel like the current version of the series has been diluted to a point that it’s hardly recognizable. I liked The Button so much coz that, to me, is how Thawne should be. I felt weird reading #25 and #26 coz they reinvented Thawne in such a way that he seemed pathetic (“didn’t get Barry’s approval so I’ll become his nemesis! But wait let me try to get him on my side” — just make up your mind already!). same with Barry. This version’s a speed force noob who’s practically helpless when a faster villain comes along. And he’s always sad. Really wish they’d get over the “trying to balance hero life with social life” stories so we can get to the more interesting plot lines already. Maybe get Barry to investigate who Max Mercury is and where to find him. Or have impulse come back to their timeline after racing away from Dr. Manhattan’s grasp. It’s really frustrating to have the story stuck on Barry’s personal issues.

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