The Flash #39
The Flash #39, by writer Joshua Williamson and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico, is part one of the Perfect Storm arc, and also the 700th issue of the book. Unfortunately, DC comics decided to go with a low key celebration, rather than have a huge, milestone issue. The book is still a good read, though, mostly due to important things happening with Iris and the return of a major villain.
The main focus of the issue is on Barry trying to mend his relationship with Iris, after Thawne revealed Flash’s true identity to her in a previous arc. She is, understandably, hurt that Barry would keep such a big secret from her, but being a good reporter, she has a lot of questions. As he takes her on a tour, and explains how he works as the Flash, the audience is also treated to a “cliffs notes” version of his origins, and they even stop by the Justice League satellite base. It’s nice to see Williamson try to build this relationship back up, as it’s been an important missing ingredient in The Flash ever since the New 52 reboot. It’s unclear how long the good times will last, though, because the audience is also reminded that Barry is still keeping a secret from Iris by not telling her about her nephew Wally, who she does not remember since he came back from the Speed Force. Williamson is handling the Barry/Iris relationship very well. Iris clearly wants to forgive Barry, but she is also challenging him, and making him earn it at the same time. Even though, there is more trouble coming for these two characters, he really makes the reader want them to find a way to work it out.
The B story of the issue is Kid Flash and Avery Ho (Flash from the Justice League of China) teaming up to protect a convoy that is transporting Joseph Karver, a known associate of the Black Hole organization, which has been plaguing the speedsters for some time. Wally and Avery suspect that the transport will be attacked by his gang while he is en route to his trial. Williamson’s writing of the interaction between these two characters is fun, because Avery hasn’t seen Wally since he became Kid Flash, and they genuinely seem ecstatic at the site of each other. Hopefully, they will be teaming up more often in the future as a support team for Barry.
The pace finally picks up when Wally is called away from Iris by a voice in his head, and runs full speed into a confrontation with the Black Hole. This would have been even more exciting had the cover not given away the reveal that Grodd is the one pulling his strings. Nevertheless, this isn’t Williamson’s fault, and the idea that Grodd is back, and he has come to take the Speed Force for himself, leaves the readers wanting to immediately read the next issue.
The art this issue, provided by Di Giandomenico, is fantastic, and it is definitely the highlight of the book. The Flash hasn’t had such kinetic art since Francis Manapul left, so hopefully, he is locked down for the long haul. This character should never be without an artist that can make him always look in-motion, the way Di Giandomenico does. He is also backed up by the amazing colors of Ivan Plascencia, who really manages to make the lightning flowing off the speedsters pop.
In the end, this was not the most exciting, or satisfying, 700th issue that could have been provided to the readers, but it does seem to be kicking off a story arc of epic proportions. With the Black Hole gang being led by Grodd, Barry will need the full support of the Flash family to fight off a group of villains that would each pose a major threat to him on their own. It would have been nice to have Grodd remain a secret until the end of the issue, but DC has to sell books, and a cover showing Barry and Iris having an intimate conversation wouldn’t do that nearly as well as an image of Grodd attacking the Flash.