The Flash #76 // Review
Barry Allen makes his return from the past just in time to see the Speed Force die, in The Flash #76, written by Joshua Williamson, with pencils by Rafa Sandoval, inks by Jordi Tarragona, and colors by Tomeu Morey. Previously, The Flash was sent on a trip down memory lane (year one of his superhero career, specifically) by the mysterious, new Still Force user, Steadfast. He returned with a refreshed sense of self, ready to renew his dedication to fighting crime, but he had a lot of work to do in the area of fixing the bad mistakes he’s made recently. Now, he’s trying to make up for alienating his Flash Family, and investigate the dying Speed Force, all while the Rogues run loose over the city.
Williamson taps back into some of his more interesting dangling plotlines this issue with a deep dig into the new Forces, and their effects on the Speed Force. It seems that the new Forces (Still, Strength, and Sage) so violently made their way into the universe, that they are now killing the Speed Force, which directly affects all speedsters. Williamson has taken his time slowly dipping his toe into these new Forces since he first introduced them, bringing in new characters that have been chosen as avatars for each of the Forces, and giving the readers a piece of the puzzle at a time. Now, he seems to be ready to dive in, and it’s honestly the most exciting this book has been in months.
This issue also acts as a fresh start, not only for the book, but for Barry Allen, himself. While the plot continues from heavily laid tracks that Williamson has been working on for a while, the titular hero bursts onto the scene with such energy and a sense of renewal, that it almost feels like issue one of volume two of Williamson’s Flash story. Allen is back, he’s going to fix the mistakes he’s made, he’s going to make amends to the friends he disappointed, and he’s going to be the best version of the Flash you could hope for. Williamson reminds you why Barry is, perhaps, the best Flash ever with this chapter of his story, and it’s hard to argue when you see Allen in action.
The incomparable Howard Porter has been on art duty for The Flash for the last arc, and he is certainly a tough act to follow, but Sandoval’s pencils sure do give him a run for his money. Lending to Williamson’s fresh-faced, ready-to-run Barry Allen is Sandoval’s take on the smiling, always-in-a-good mood hero. When The Flash makes his entrance in a full page spread, you can’t help but feel happy to see Allen return. Lending to this issue’s magical art, are Tarragona and Morey on inks and colors, and they really make each panel look like some of the best art in the business today.
Overall, if you’ve been looking for a good point to jump onto The Flash, or if you’ve been tired of the mopey, screwup Barry Allen of late, then this is the issue for you. Everything from previous issues is explained at a brief pace, while establishing a new threat, and even dropping in a fun surprise at the end. This is the best this book has been in over a year, and it looks like Williamson is just getting started.