The Flash #66 // Review
The Flash #66, written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Scott Kolins, and colors by Luis Guerrero, has only a handful of panels containing its title character, and it’s the best this book has been in months. Previously, Barry Allen’s longtime protege, Wally West, was killed in a mysterious massacre at a facility designed to give heroes a safe space to recover from traumatic experiences. This event led to Flash teaming up with Batman to investigate, which led to yet another case involving a former protege of Batman’s going rogue. Tensions ran high, words were exchanged, and the two heroes ended up parting on bad terms. Of course, none of that has anything to do with this issue, because it focuses solely on the Trickster. Ha!
With the Trickster, nothing is ever as it seems, or at least, that’s what any good writer should aspire to when handling this character. Luckily, Williamson appears to be all too familiar with that unspoken rule, and he’s more than happy to follow it to the letter. His story covers two different origins for James Jesse: one focusing on his childhood with abusive parents, and the other that led to a rebirth after being forgotten and imprisoned for years. Williamson deftly alternates between the two periods in Trickster’s life, telling a dual tale of crucial periods that made him the man he is today.
To add another bit of praise for Williamson’s writing of the Trickster, do you know how hard it is for anyone to write any version of this character, and not make him seem like a lame Joker pastiche? It’s nearly impossible. Two writers spring to mind: Mark Waid, and Geoff Johns (two of the all-time best comic book writers in the business). Williamson is now the third on that list. Not only did he, just months ago, write a compelling take on the younger Trickster, who was abused at the hands of Warden Wolfe in Iron Heights, now he has delivered a more compelling version of the original Trickster, too. Fully fleshed out, and ready to take on the Flash once more, the upcoming arc featuring Jesse as the main antagonist looks like it is going to be tons of fun.
The legendary Flash artist, Scott Kolins, returns this issue, and he is as good as he ever was. As co-creator of the Axel Walker Trickster, it’s especially cool to see him come back to deliver the definitive origin story for the original character. Bolstering Kolins’ kinetic pencils is the wonderful Guerrero on colors. As is often stated in these reviews, color is critical on a Flash comic. With the Scarlet Speedster flying across most panels and lighting shooting off in every direction, a dull colorist can drag the whole book down. This issue doesn’t focus on the Flash, but a Trickster-focused chapter, with his loud costume that offends the eyes of any who dare look upon it, is just as important, color-wise. Luckily, Guerrero delivers his A-game, leaving this Flash issue as visually stunning as any that has come before it.
Some people might not be looking forward to this one-and-done chapter, as it takes a break from Barry’s story to focus on one of his least impressive rogues, but that would be a mistake. Williamson cracks the code on the Trickster and delivers a fun, compelling version of the character that sets up the upcoming arc perfectly. Give this one a try, and you won’t regret it.