The Flash #43
The Flash #43, by writer Joshua Williamson and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico, is part five of the Perfect Storm arc, and the speedsters just cannot catch a break in this story. Previously, the dying Gorilla Grodd attacked Central City, stealing the Flash’s powers. When Barry selfishly did everything he could to regain his powers, he played right into Grodd’s hands, giving him a connection to the Speed Force and the control of all of the other speedsters in the Flash family.
This has been a great story so far, but it’s a particularly rough arc for the character of Barry Allen. At every turn, he has pushed his friends and family away, believing that only he could save the day. At first, it seemed to be likely that this was all some sort of mental manipulation by Grodd, but as the story proceeded, it became apparent that Williamson was showing Flash to have a genuine flaw in character and a dependence on the Speed Force for self worth. This issue, Flash comes to see that he made mistakes and he should have trusted the rest of the Flash Family to take on Grodd in his absence, but this whole representation of Barry still seems so out of step with the kind of person he’s been shown to be in the past. After all, he has lost his powers before, but he has never acted like this in their absence. Hopefully, this is part of a larger story, because the actions of Barry Allen in this arc should, at the very least, have lasting effects on him and his relationships with the other speedsters.
Gorilla Grodd, on the other hand, gets some nice character moments in this issue, as his motivations are fleshed out a little more during his standoff with the Flash. While using his newfound Speed Force connection to manipulate the other speedsters into fighting Barry, he is also taunting him via telepathy, which gives the two foes plenty of time to talk while still keeping the action moving. At the center of all of Grodd’s anger, Williamson shows him to be a hurt, rejected person, who just wanted the love of his homeland. When he couldn’t have that love, he lashed out at the world, trying to bring everything under his control. Even at the shocking conclusion of this issue, he proves that despite the Flash helping him, he would rather hurt and destroy than suffer the loss of what he really wants in life: power.
Williamson’s action beats for this leg of the story were also on point. The Flash doesn’t stop moving for most of the issue, which is exactly what you want out of this character, plus he is literally dodging or getting beaten up by the entire Flash Family the whole time, because he refuses to fight them. Not only does this provide a fun, kinetic feel to the book, but it is also revealed later on that Barry was working on a plan to take down Grodd the entire time he was running. You couldn’t ask for a better use of Barry’s skills, bringing together his brilliant thinking and superior super-speed perfectly.
Carmine Di Giandomenico is thankfully back, after taking last issue off. If only he could do every issue, because his art is ideal for speedsters. He is amazing at making things look like they’re in motion, which is the number one skill any Flash artist should have. Not to mention, he draws a great Grodd. He is capable of handling big action without any confusion as to what is happening on panel. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the colors of Ivan Plascencia make all of that electricity given off by the Flash Family pop off the page. The pages of this issue practically glow in the dark, thanks to him.
In the end, this issue may be a letdown in terms of Barry’s actions seeming out of character, but it’s still a fun ride. Grodd was as menacing as ever and the action didn’t stop, so there is very little to complain about. With Barry’s bad choices adding fuel to the fire for the coming Flash War, surely Williamson’s questionable story elements will be addressed some time in the near future.