The Flash #57 // Review
The “Faster Than Thought” arc comes to its conclusion in Flash #57, written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Scott Kolins and colors by Luis Guerrero, but was it a satisfying end? Previously, Barry and Wally broke the Speed Force barrier and unleashed the Sage and Strength Forces into the universe. After Flash barely defeated a Strength Force-fueled Trickster, the Sage Force (having power over the mind) found its new avatar in Mick Rory aka Heat Wave. Now, Barry Allen and CCPD’s Detective Burns are trapped inside Rory’s mind, while Commander Cold, an ice-themed cop from the future, and Iris West try to keep Mick from going nuclear in the real world.
You can’t talk about this arc without comparing it to the previous story, in which Flash faced off against Trickster and the Strength Force, because there are obvious parallels between them. In the Strength Force story, Williamson put the spotlight on Trickster, as he was empowered by the mysterious new Force. Readers learned equal amounts of information about the young rogue, and the new Force, while Barry tried to figure out a way to defeat them. This arc, in which Heatwave is given the lead antagonist role and chosen as avatar of the Sage Force, readers get the same story, but less inspired. Mick is a well fleshed-out character, after starring in many Flash stories over the years, so little-to-no new information is given on him, even in this final issue of the arc. Similarly, where readers learned a good bit about how the Strength Force works previously, almost nothing is learned about the Sage Force here. It sought to control Rory, but why? Does it have a connection to fire, or is it just that Heatwave was able to control fire somehow through the Sage Force? None of these questions were answered by Williamson. Maybe that was intentional, but it is quite frustrating, because the last three issues essentially led to nothing, minus the final pages.
The good news is that Barry Allen makes real progress as a character in this concluding chapter. Not only is he acknowledging the mistakes he’s been making since before the Flash War, but, by the end of the issue, he is actually taking steps to getting back on the right track. If you’ve found Barry to be annoying or out of character lately, then this is the start of you getting your hero back--and, more than likely, better than ever--before everything is said and done. Williamson, obviously playing the long game on character development, has been slowly tearing Barry down, brick by brick, over the last few story arcs, but he’s also been hinting at a Speed Force Quest that could change Flash’s understanding of his powers and return him to his “Fastest Man Alive” status, after losing a race to Wally in Flash War. The coming story could very well be the arc that defines Barry Allen for a generation, so if you’re a Flash fan, you won’t want to miss it.
Kolins does his usual great job on the Flash, especially since he’s actually allowed to have him using his super speed this issue. After Barry spending most of last issue in Heatwave’s mind, unable to effectively use his speed, it seemed like Kolins was getting robbed of the ability to show off his legendary Flash skills. This issue makes up for that, not only giving Kolins a chance to show off Flash’s speed, but a couple other surprise guests’ as well. Guerrero is also a great colorist to be paired with Kolins, as his work perfectly compliments Kolins’ unique style. Not to mention, Guerrero just knocks it out of the park in an issue that is very dependent on the vibrant color of lighting and fire on practically every panel.
This issue may not dazzle you or leave you with fond memories for years to come, but it’s solid, and ends on a couple strong notes. Granted, those notes are pretty much epilogues that have nothing to do with the main story, but they are powerful nonetheless, and they leave you wanting to come back for more. There’s plenty more exciting things to come in the Flash, so, even though this arc was less than stellar, it would be wise to stick around to see what Williamson has planned next.