The Flash #67 // Review
The Trickster returns in The Flash #67, written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Scott Kolins, and colors by Luis Guerrero, and boy does he have some new tricks up his sleeve. Previously, after a series of bad decisions, and the loss of his former sidekick Wally West, Barry Allen managed to push the love of his life (Iris West) away, too. As if things weren’t bad enough for the Flash, amidst his greatest tragedies, the original Trickster (yes, there are somehow two of them) has quietly moved back to Central City and amassed a considerable amount of power and influence in a short amount of time. Now, he is poised to make his big move, and no one in Flash’s city is safe from his wrath.
Yes, some of you might be wondering why the return of the Trickster is anything to get excited about, but so far, Williamson has done a bang up job of turning the villain into a real threat. Just last issue, he provided both an origin and rebirth for the old Rogue, and it did wonders for fleshing out the character, reminding the readers why Flash has such trouble with him in the first place. Yes, it’s not the first time a writer has taken James Jesse in and given him substance where little existed before (I’m looking at you Mark Waid), but this time around Williamson seems more determined to make it stick. Jesse is now playing a more complicated game, having a real long-term plan, instead of just showing up with a bunch of exploding rubber chickens, and the anticipation over the last few months has been building as the readers have watched him rise on the threat meter, finally exacting his mysterious plan in this very issue.
Unfortunately, the issue itself is a little bit of a snoozer. Mostly filler, the entire story revolves around the Flash returning home, only to find out that Commander Cold is missing, and everyone in Central City is way too happy. The first chapter of this big Trickster story barely has him in it, and really only serves as a teaser for the arc. You could argue that the first issue of an arc really just should be the tip of the iceberg, but given that last month’s chapter was a prologue to this story, the opening segment should have hit like a ton of bricks. Instead, the plot of everybody in Central City being forced to be happy is only vaguely creepy, and a little too close to the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life”, in which a powerful, young boy wishes people “into the cornfield” if they’re not overly cheerful 24 hours a day. All of this build up and the readers are given a lighter version of a classic television show, so it’s a little bit of a letdown.
Scott Kolins saves the issue with his art, which is always welcome back on the Flash title. An old pro at rendering the “fastest man alive,” Kolins can run circles around most Flash artists, and with an all-too-important contribution of colors (the unsung hero of any Flash book) by Guerrero, the art department is providing A+ work this issue.
In the end, there are the ingredients of a good Trickster story here, but Williamson isn’t quite delivering with the first issue of the arc. Yes, the mystery of how Jesse is doing what he is doing, and what his real plans are, is intriguing, but there is no excitement there. The story needed a big hook to get people’s attention, and it falls extremely short of that goal. Hopefully, Williamson has a larger master plan at work, or the readers are in for a disappointing arc.