The Flash #55 // Review
The Flash #55, written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Scott Kolins, and colors by Luis Guerrero, kicks off the Faster Than Thought story arc, in which Flash’s old rogue Heat Wave becomes the avatar of the Sage Force. Previously in Flash, Barry and Wally broke the Speed Force barrier, releasing new Forces, Strength and Sage, into the universe. The Strength Force was the first to pop up, making Trickster its new avatar, but Flash was able to sever the connection in time to stop him from doing any major damage. Now, the Sage Force, which has power over the mind, has made its presence known, and it has its eyes on Mick Rory.
Williamson has been doing a little bit of reworking on Barry Allen’s character lately to try to get him out from under the reputation of being the “boring Flash,” and he has been doing a spectacular job. In the most organic way possible, Williamson has turned Allen from a solid, dependable guy who always has a smile on his face to a man that has come to doubt himself after making mistakes, losing his closest partners, and being demoted to second fastest man alive when his former sidekick passed him up. If everything that came before has been Williamson deconstructing Barry, then this issue might be the first step in building him back up. Allen is finally realizing that his life has changed, and he might need to change with it. Between leaning on Iris more and coming to the conclusion that he will probably need future police officer Commander Cold’s help, readers are finally seeing Barry move forward, instead of stalling out due to his misery. No doubt, with his investigation into the new Forces, a better understanding of the Speed Force and his powers will be coming for Barry. After that, the sky’s the limit for him, so it should be nothing but great times ahead for Flash fans.
Williamson also gives the readers their first good look at the Sage Force this issue, but in the most confusing way possible. The Strength Force was pretty straight forward, in that it made its avatar stronger, with the slight twist of gravity and earth manipulation. The Sage Force, which is supposed to have power over the mind, seems to have taken a sharp left turn, also providing domain over fire. Granted, anything seen in this issue could be an illusion brought on by the Sage Force’s interaction with Heat Wave. The story, however, is off to an interesting start. Hopefully, more answers will be coming for both Forces, and how they choose their avatars, soon. As it is, Trickster and Heat Wave, outside of both being members of the Rogues, couldn’t be more random choices as avatars of Strength and Sage.
Scott Kolins, a legendary artist for The Flash, returns this issue, and turns in some solid work. It’s not his best, but he is always welcome back on the book, as his work eternally feels like a callback to the now-classic Geoff Johns Flash run. To be fair, most of this issue focuses on Heat Wave and a dinner between Barry, Iris, and a few other police officers, so it doesn’t give Kolins much room to dazzle the audience with cool panels showing off Flash’s speed. Guerrero, on the other hand, is given plenty to work with, because the issue is filled with explosions and massive fires. He steps up in a big way, especially in the final page, which is entirely sold on the spectacle of his bright blue coloring.
Overall, this was maybe not the most exciting issue of The Flash, but as a first chapter that is setting up the rest of the arc, it gets the job done. There is still plenty to learn about the Sage Force, and Heat Wave hasn’t had the spotlight in a while, so there is a lot to look forward to in the upcoming issues. As stated before, Williamson is building up the Flash’s world, as well as a new lore, and many writers after him will benefit from it. It’s worth sticking around to see all of the exciting new facets of the Flash mythology that are rising up from his run.