The Strength Force Claims [REDACTED] Review of THE FLASH #53

The strength force has already claimed Axel Walker – and the Trickster is now taking out his frustration on everything and everyone in Central City! Can even Flash and Commander Cold stop him? You’ll see part of the answer here, along with some interesting backstory on the 25th Century Renegade working with Barry Allen. Want to know more? Follow us after the jump!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Barry doesn’t know Commander Cold’s real name – but we will see his origin story in a series of flashbacks (flash-forwards?) in this issue.  There has been some real trauma in this future world where the doppelgangers of heroes are villains and where the 25th Century versions of Rogues are the heroes.  His story leads up to a meeting with the Judge of the Temporal Courts (we have since learned his identity), who recruits him into becoming Commander Cold.

Commander Cold is willing to kill – the trauma he has lived through when watching inaction leads him to believe that lethal force is necessary…and that leads to conflict with Barry, of course.

They do gain a temporary victory over Trickster, and realize that the Strength force is actually tearing Axel apart. They take him to the only safe place (?) – Iron Heights.  Warden Wolfe is willing to help…for a price.  That price is to test out his anti-speedster tech on the Flash!

Barry agrees, but while in that special cell, the Strength Force reaches out for an additional host…Barry Allen! He grows to gigantic size…and  Warden Wolfe is ready to shoot to kill both him and Axel. Barry turns for help to Commander Cold, to find…

…That Commander Cold agrees with Wolfe, and is preparing to kill both Barry and Axel!

NOTES:

  • One of the subplots in this issue shows Iris remembering being married to Barry in their “other” life. She is doing her own research into these new forces, and is preparing to go on her own journey to learn more – even if Barry isn’t ready to go on a “Force Quest”.
  • I like where we are heading with Iris’ character – more than just the idea of being married to Barry, but demonstrating in the script that she is a terrific investigative reporter in her own right.  Lois Lane isn’t the only great reporter in the DCU!
  • I loved the effects of Barry and Axel growing (hulking?) to gigantic size – this takes me back to some of the fun Silver Age stories where strange things happened to Barry…but it works in a modern age as well.

SUMMARY:

  • Joshua Williamson has another great arc going, bringing the new forces into continuity in a way that makes dramatic sense.  I’m on board to see whatever happens next.
  • Terrific art once again by Christian Duce, with colors by Luis Guerrero. Duce handles both action and emotion exceptionally well – I love the facial expressions throughout, including the very evil grin of Warden Wolfe…and also Iris’ expressions just before and just after Barry appears in a surprising way.

This is at least a 9/10 for me – but as always, that my opinion.  What do YOU think? Leave your comments below!

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