Flash #40 delivers part two of the “Perfect Storm” story arc. Things are starting to heat up as we hurdle toward Flash War. I have enjoyed Joshua Williamson’s run on Flash so far. Williamson has displayed a nice touch for the Flash franchise and the challenges that writing this title poses to a writer. Does Flash #40 succeed in making the reader excited for Flash War or is this issue a miss? Let’s find out!
Words: Joshua Williamson
Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors: Ivan Plascencia
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Gorilla Grodd recapping the last issue. Grodd has stolen the speed from Central City. Therefore, the entire city and its population are frozen in time. If any hero arrives to help Flash then that hero will also become frozen in time once they enter the sphere surrounding Central City.
Grodd recaps that he is suffering from a deadly disease that is attacking his mind. Grodd believes that the only cure to his disease is the Speed Force. Fighting by Grodd’s side is the ex-S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Raijin, Multiplex, and Negative Flash. Fighting alongside Barry Allen is New 52 Wally West and Avery Ho.
Grodd demands for Barry to relinquish his Speed Force to Grodd. Barry battles Grodd and Raijin. New 52 Wally West helps Barry out to take down Raijin. Raijin loses control of his lightning wand which helps him control the Speed Force. Barry tells Avery and New 52 Wally to take the lightning wand and run far away from the battle scene. New 52 Wally protests but Avery grabs New 52 Wally’s arm and races off with him and the lightning wand.
Grodd and Barry battle each other. During the fight, Grodd recounts Barry’s past and says that before Barry received his Speed Force powers that Barry was a total nothing. A complete loser who failed his mom who was killed and his father who was jailed. That Barry had his career but no love life or friends. However, once Barry got his powers he got friends, a love life and freed his father. That without his powers Barry is a loser.
Grodd gets the upper hand on Barry. Multiplex grabs Barry. Negative Flash then hooks Barry up to some device. Negative Flash turns on the device and all of Barry’s Speed Force is stripped from his body and pumped into Gorilla Grodd’s body.
We then see Barry on his knees with no powers. Grodd grabs Barry. Grodd exclaims that Barry’s Speed Force powers were not enough to cure his disease. Grodd demands that Raijin and Multiplex retrieve the lightning wand and bring the other speedsters to Grodd so that he may steal their Speed Force powers.
Grodd then gets on his flying chair and flies high over Central City. Grodd dangles Barry over the edge. Grodd spits in Barry’s face and says that Barry is not nothing. That Barry is less than nothing. That Barry is just a human.
Grodd lets go of Barry and he plummets to the ground. Barry whispers “Iris…I love-” Suddenly, Wally West streaks in and catches Barry before he can hit the ground. Wally says that he saw the lightning from his new Keystone City condo and raced over. (See the end of Flash Annual #1.)
Wally stops and sets Barry down. Wally asks Barry what is going on. Suddenly, New 52 Wally and Avery appear on the scene. Barry then says that Grodd beat him. But, that Grodd did not beat the Flash. Barry says that he is not the Flash of Central City anymore. Barry says that Wally West is now the Flash of Central City. End of issue.
The Good The Flash #40 was another exciting issue. Williamson continues to deliver well crafted reads with each and every issue. Make no mistake about it, The Flash #40 is all about action. Williamson cranks out an issue that is packed with action from start to finish. There is not a single dull moment at all in this issue.
The Flash #40 moves at a pace as fast as the speedsters that it showcases. Williamson stomps on the gas with the start of this issue and does not let as we race to the shocking ending of this issue. The fast pacing of the story matches the intensity of the fight between Grodd and Barry Allen. The quick pacing also helps to ratchet up the anxiety in the reader as they sit at the edge of the seat quickly turning to the next page of the story.
The Flash #40 is an issue bursting forth with kinetic energy. Williamson succeeds in using the pacing and the action to create a story that is as frenetic as the speedsters who are fighting against Grodd. This helps to make an issue that has an excellent mood and easily pulls the reader into the story and does not let go until the end.
Williamson also does a nice job with the plotting. All of the various pieces slide into place in order to create a dramatic foundation for the upcoming Flash War. The scene cuts are perfectly timed and contribute to the overall nervous and anxious feel to the story.
Williamson is juggling multiple plot lines and numerous characters in quite an impressive fashion. This is no easy task. The result is that this story has plenty of depth and substance to it. This is a carefully designed story that serves as a strong foundation for Flash War.
The Flash #40 ends with a stunning hook ending. The reader is genuinely shocked as we crash to this ending in such a furious fashion. Now, I am going to put aside my feelings on how DC should handle the Flash franchise at the conclusion of Flash War. I want to grade this ending just in terms of how it fits with the entire issue and how well it was delivered by Williamson. Because, Williamson really did arrive at this hook ending in a nice fashion.
This ending helps set the stage for Wally West to take the lead going into Flash War. Wally’s character desperately needs the spotlight in this big event due to his character not getting much attention since he returned to the DCU. This ending also helps set the stage for Barry Allen’s character to grow and evolve.
Williamson did a fantastic job contrasting Barry Allen before he gained his Speed Force powers and Barry Allen after gaining his Speed Force powers. This allows Williamson to establish some conflict for Barry as he goes forward without his powers. This will allow Williamson to test Barry. This will test Barry Allen as a man. This will allow the reader to see what type of character Barry is when separated from his powers. This could be an excellent opportunity to evolve Barry’s character and to make him an even better hero should he eventually regain his Speed Force powers.
I am a massive Barry Allen fan so I am excited to see him take the challenge ahead and of him and prove to Grodd that his Speed Force powers are not what makes him a hero. The power of this ending only succeeds if Williamson keeps Barry as an integral part of Flash War. If Flash War takes Barry on a journey of self-discovery and allows him to evolve and then regain his powers after realizing his powers do not make him a hero then this ending works every well. If that does not happen in Flash War? Well, see “The Bad” for more on that.
Williamson knocked it out of the park with his take on Grodd’s character. Grodd’s external voice is well written. Grodd gets to chew his way through some great dialogue. Williamson makes Grodd an imposing and despise-able villain that appears seemingly unstoppable. The main ingredient for a big event story is a proper villain. And it appears that Flash War will have one with Grodd.
Another nice aspect of Flash #40 is that Williamson continues to infuse this title with a Silver Age vibe wrapped up in modern sensibilities. Flash #40 is an all-ages comic book but it is not kiddie at all. Williamson manages to make this an issue that appeals to adults while still making it all ages in content. This is exactly what DC should be doing with their mainstream super hero titles and it is great to see Williamson committed to that endeavor.
Carmine Di Giandomenico delivers plenty of quality artwork. Di Giandomenico’s art really shines in the action scenes. Di Giandomenico’s style of art matches perfectly with action scenes involving speedsters. The art creates a visually dynamic look and beings Williamson’s story to life in vivid fashion. I also love the impressive double page splash shots. These dramatic splash shots help to give The Flash #40 an epic and grand scope.
The Bad At this point, it is hard for me to criticize much in The Flash #40. It is just too early to see how the ending to this issue will play out in the events of Flash War. Having said that, if Barry Allen really has permanently lost his powers and is no longer going to be the Flash then this is an incredibly anti-climactic way for Barry Allen to go out. If this is truly Barry’s swan song then this was a disappointing end to Barry’s career as the Flash. Barry’s character deserves more of an epic send-off rather than being treated like a total bitch like he was in this issue.
As we head into Flash War, the real problem with the Flash is not who is the “Flash of Central City.” The real problem is that DC has New 52 Wally and the real Wally existing at the same time. It makes no sense and is unnecessarily confusing. DC needs to make its comics more new reader friendly rather than pointlessly confusing.
Avery Ho is also a miss. Her character feels shallow and pointless. Avery comes across as more of a pandering move of diversity for diversity’s sake rather than a creative idea that leads to an actually compelling character. However, there is a way to solve that. More on that in just a bit.
Then we have the issue of the real Wally West operating as The Flash at the same time that Barry Allen is operating as the Flash. Personally, I do not think this is an issue at all. If the DCU can support a zillion Green Lanterns (Two Green Lanterns on the Justice League, no less!) as well as two Supermen and a billion variations of Batman then I think the DCU can support two Flashes in Wally and Barry.
At this point, removing Barry Allen as the Flash and making Wally West the one true Flash makes zero business sense. DC has invested a ton into Barry’s character with the popular and successful CW Flash television show and the inclusion of Barry Allen in the Justice League movie. Therefore, it would make no sense at all to have Wally West be the only Flash in the comics. This would just create even more confusion where there is no reason to have any confusion. It is as if DC goes out of its way to make thinks unnecessarily convoluted. That is never a smart approach for a business to take.
What makes the most sense for DC is to have Barry established as the one true Flash. This makes sense due to Barry’s prominence in TV and in movies. I would have no problem with the real Wally West continuing to be the Flash as well. However, if DC is determined to only have one Flash then I would de-age the real Wally and make him Kid Flash.
Then DC could address the issues with New 52 Wally and Avery Ho. DC should have New 52 Wally retconned away and then have him replaced with a biracial Bart Allen from the future who operates under the code-name Impulse. DC should then have Avery Ho retconned away and replace her with XS.
All of these adjustments to the Flash franchise make the most logical sense and they make the Flash franchise far more streamlined, logical, diverse, and new reader friendly.
Overall: The Flash #40 was a solid issue. Williamson continues to display a real knack for the Flash franchise. The true impact of The Flash #40 will not be realized until the events of Flash War have played themselves out. Having said that, Williamson has made The Flash a quality super hero title that is well worth the cover price. If you like classic super hero titles then you absolutely need to start reading The Flash.