The Origin of Paradox – Review of THE FLASH #88

There’s a new bad guy in town, and he is being billed as one of the toughest foes the Flash has faced yet. His name is Paradox. We meet him for the first time here, in THE FLASH #88. But, we’ve already seen part of what he can do. The future version of Barry Allen, the one we thought lost after the battle with the Turtle, reappeared last issue…only to die due to this strange new villain. Who is Paradox? What can he do? And, why does he hate the Flash? We’ll get the answers in this issue of THE FLASH, in the origin story for Paradox! Wanna know more? Follow us after the jump!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

The story of Paradox brings many of the pieces together from the brief history of the REBIRTH line of stories. And, in a way it helps set the stage for the upcoming new timeline of the DCU. Let’s set the stage here.

Chris is a nice guy, a Professor who has invented a “Comicscope” to do research on time and the multiverse. His wife considers his work “conspiracy theories”, but he really is onto something. Reality is constantly shifting because of changes in time…changes we can’t see. But, the changes are real, and he is looking for proof of those changes.

On a very fateful night, Barry Allen bumps into him on his way to the lab – the lab where he will be struck by lightning and become The Flash. Chris is struck in his lab as well, on that same night. For a moment, he can see the the multiverse. He can “feel the power of our time stream flow through me.” That moment passed, and so did those visions.

Chris doubled down on his research, ignoring all including his family. Things come to a head when The Flash brings all of Central City slightly forward in time during that battle with King Turtle. All, that is, except for Chris and a few close bystanders. They were pulled out of the timeline and into a strange place outside of space and time itself!

We don’t know exactly how long they were there. But, it was long enough to change them all. Chris set up new experiments that led to a horrific act. He killed the others that were with him in order to power a “lightning rod” device that let him see the multiverse once again. This time, he saw the entire history of the Flash – with scenes from the Silver Age to COIE and beyond. He decides that everything that has happened to him, and to time itself, is the Flash’s fault.

Chris tries to reconnect with his family, but his appearance has been changed so drastically that they do not recognize him. His time in that strange place had turned him into a monstrous figure. He leaves them to find himself in the 25th century. Once again, a “Flash” is there to subdue him. This time, it’s the Time Institute, Eobard Thawne and the Renegades, and they lock him up in a special cell that holds back his newfound powers.

While there, every change in the time stream affects him, giving him immense pain. Finally, when the Source Wall was broken he was freed. He re-entered that strange realm and found…Godspeed!

Now that Chris (now Paradox) has found out about the Flash being supercharged with Speed Force energy, he enlists Godspeed’s help to make the multiverse see the Flash for the monster he believes him to be. That’s where we leave things for now, with the origin story of Paradox complete.

NOTES:

  • Paradox now fits into Barry’s origin, the King Turtle saga, the breaking of the Source Wall, the Reverse Flash and Renegades tale, and more. His understanding that time is constantly changing lends itself to the idea that “it’s all canon” – which in a way sets the stage for the upcoming new DCU timeline. In a way, Paradox brings it all together. Quite an interesting origin tale by Joshua Williamson.
  • The narration of this story comes from Paradox. To show how tied to the history of the Flash he is…when he first mentions The Flash we see the Silver Age logo. Yep, Paradox goes all the way back with Barry Allen, as noted by his origin story.
  • Let’s go back to Chris’ lab at the start of this story. Check out the posters on the wall. There is that map of the multiverse, along with several references that can be tied to a number of DC heroes. There is even a reference to Dr. Manhattan there. Lots of cool Easter Eggs on that page.
  • The character design for Paradox is both cool and frightening. This is almost like we have a Doomsday character for Barry Allen. We will have to see how this plays out over time, but there is the potential for this to be a really good arc.
  • Artist Howard Porter has a lot of impressive panels/pages here. We see the creation of a new villain, while also visiting some strange new places for the DCU. I don’t know if Porter is the one who designed the character originally, but at any rate the appearance here of Paradox is outstanding.
  • If I’m counting right, this is the last issue before we hit issue #750. If that’s a little confusing, it ties the entire history of THE FLASH together, all the way back to Jay Garrick and the Golden Age. I’m really looking forward to that issue – be sure to check back here when that comes out.

SUMMARY:

As with any new villain, we will have to wait a bit before passing final judgment. Still, this was an impressive debut and origin tale for a significant new player in the world of The Flash. I’ll give this an 8/10 – but of course that’s just my opinion. What do YOU think? Leave your comments below!

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