The Flash #63 // Review
The Flash #63, written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Mink Yu Jung, and colors by Hi-Fi, concludes the much-anticipated Force Quest arc, and fulfills none of its promise. Previously, after Barry Allen hit rock bottom, his longtime love, Iris Allen, convinced him to go on a Force quest. Fueled by a need for answers on the new Forces (Strength, Sage, and Still), and a desire to become a better Flash, the two set out across the world in search of knowledge. Along the way, they encountered a duo of villains called Gemini, who have the ability to absorb Force energy, and two other new Force users, Fuerza (Strength), and Psych (Sage). Now, with Barry, Psych, and Iris cornered by Gemini, Barry must use all of his new knowledge about the Forces to defeat his enemies...or not.
From the get-go, this was supposed to be the arc where Barry gets his groove back. He has been making bad decisions, and suffering the consequences for a while now, and even recently lost the title of “fastest man alive” to his former sidekick. Faced with the fact that he doesn’t understand the Speed Force as well as Wally West, because he’s only ever looked at it through the eyes of a scientist, he was (in theory) going on this quest to become the best possible version of the Flash. That didn’t happen, though. Instead, Williamson gave the readers more of Barry stumbling around blindly, looking for answers, and coming up with little more than a handful of new information that, while game-changing for the current story, was shoulder-shruggingly underwhelming in the big scheme of things.
The biggest problem, by far, of this arc, which extended through to this issue, was Williamson’s choice of villains. Two, nigh-immortal thieves who mysteriously have the ability to absorb Force energy, wandered around in the background for most of the story, and then popped up again in the final issue to cause a mid-level threat. Gemini never seemed like much of a danger, and in the end, they amounted to minimal interference in Barry’s quest. So, why have them there at all? They’re not interesting, or compelling as characters in the least, because the readers are given almost no real information about them, other than their power set, which is convenient to the story. The best that can be hoped for is that Williamson got Gemini out of his system, so the readers never have to suffer their mediocrity again.
Jung, brought in for the final issue of the arc, is a serviceable artist, but such an obvious gear shift from the previous artist, Christian Duce, that the change seemed jarring. Again, that is not to say that Jung is terrible by any means, but having such a drastic style change in art on the last issue of the arc is a real gut punch in terms of story flow. Hi-Fi holds to the company’s usual high standard for colors, but even they couldn’t save the shipwreck of a conclusion to this arc.
In the end, only one word can sum up this issue--disappointment. Yes, there is a new, eyebrow-raising revelation for the Forces in this issue, and yes, Barry finally has to confront some terrible things that have been happening back home in his absence, but none of that has any weight to it. It just breezes over you, like the rest of this story. In an arc that could have been epic in its importance to the Flash mythos, the readers were given something that resembled filler with one important story beat thrown in at the end. Williamson had been riding a high since the Flash War story, doling out bits of information on the new Forces, having Barry make hard choices about changes he needed to make, and it all felt like it was leading up to this. Unfortunately, it looks like Williamson has plans to make the readers wait a little longer...