The Flash #70 // Review
The Flash #70, written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Howard Porter, and colors by Hi-Fi, takes Barry Allen back to “year one” of his career as the Scarlet Speedster, but it may not be the story you’re expecting. Previously, after defeating the Trickster, Barry Allen returned to work at his CSI lab, only to discover a mysterious figure named “Steadfast,” who had control of the Still Force (previously, only tapped into by the Turtle, and Gorilla Grodd). He claimed the Flash needed to remember “something he had forgotten” before unleashing his powers on him, apparently sending him back to his childhood. Now, Williamson revisits the origin of the Flash, but there is most definitely more than meets the eye going on.
First of all, kudos to Williamson for cracking the code on a new way to present Year One stories. At first glance, this seems to be yet another retread of the Flash’s origin, which could have easily been a snooze fest. Not only has the Year One imprint been done to death, but Barry’s origin has been retold countless times, itself. Sure, it’s nice to knock the dust off of the original Silver Age story from time to time, but nobody was begging Williamson to do so. Fortunately, the writer of The Flash had a fresh take on it, presenting it as a time travel mystery by literally having Barry shoved back into his own past at the end of the last issue. Williamson is, essentially, having his cake, and eating it, too. All of the trappings of a typical Year One story are present, but there is another layer added that keeps your eyes at attention, looking for any semblance of an explanation to the previous issue’s cliffhanger.
There is a downside to such a fresh take on retelling an origin story, though: you’re only really interested in the mystery. As stated above, the readers have seen the Flash’s origin recounted many times, told from as many angles as humanly possible. Williamson promises more but barely hints at a larger story, with the opening chapter serving as a sort of teaser for the rest of the arc. There is an excellent exclamation point on the end of this issue that will draw readers back for part two, but the first issue feels drawn out for the simple purpose of hitting that moment extra hard.
Porter, a veteran DC artist, only improves with age. Handling the pencils and inks this issue, he is turning in some of the best work of his career, whether it’s a quiet, tender scene between Barry and his mom, or the ultra-kinetic action panels involving the soon-to-be Flash exploring his newfound speed. Hi-Fi also shines (literally), as every panel is beautifully colored. Even when lightning is striking in the background of a scene, your eye is immediately drawn to it.
This may not have been the best opening chapter one could imagine for Flash’s Year One story, as most of the issue seems like Williamson slapping another coat of paint on an old house, but the premise for this arc is so powerful, so it seems like it might be worth sticking around to see what happens. Especially, with such a crazy final page that leaves you wondering what this story is really about.