While it got off to a good start “The Price” crossover between Batman and Flash has quickly lost its steam. A major reason for that is several missing story beats involving Gotham Girl. The way she has been presented Gotham Girl has lost all the depth that she developed since debuting. Luckily the drama between Batman and Flash has been able to keep this crossover afloat. Now that we are at the final issue of “The Price” crossover the question is how will this end up leaving Batman and Flash as Heroes In Crisis continues to go on? Let’s find out with The Flash #65.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Barry Allen remembers his feelings on not wanting to believe Wally West was dead but when he found his body he knew everyone’s life would change.
In Central City Batman and Flash work quickly to clear the area of innocent people as Gotham Girl relentlessly attacks the city. Batman and Flash try to reason with Gotham Girl. She in turn only attacked to save her brother who was her hero.
Batman tries to get her to stop using her powers as they are killing her. Gotham Girl says without her powers she is nothing and that being a hero is worth using her powers like her brother.
Gotham Girl suddenly throws up a toxic substance from her body and collapses. Batman rushes to check on Gotham Girl.
Batman notices she is dying and calls Flash over, who was finishing up with helping innocent people get to safety, to help him save Gotham Girl.
Because of her durability Batman’s conventional attempts to save do not work. Flash uses his speed to perform CPR, which triggers memories of Wally for him. Flash eventually taps into the Speed Force to send an electrical surge through Gotham Girl’s body.
Gotham Girl recovers, though she is still throwing up the toxic substance in her body. Batman tells Gotham Girl to move slowly as they need to detox her. Gotham Girl says she does not remember anything that happened. Batman calls Alfred to prepare a medical station to help Gotham Girl’s detox.
Iris West appears and yells at Batman if he is going to help Gotham Girl like he did Wally. She continues yelling how Batman brought another innocent into the world without thinking of the repercussions of putting kids in danger. She slaps Batman.
Iris then tells Flash he is just enabling Batman. Flash responds by saying the city was in danger and Gotham Girl’s life is on the line so they have to get her medical attention. Iris tells them to go. Batman and Flash rush off to get Gotham Girl medical attention, leavin Iris to stand alone in the destruction.
In the Batcave Gotham Girl has been placed in a special tank to recover. Batman reflects on how his mission became Gotham Girl’s obsession, opening herself up for the toxin she used to send her over the edge. Batman says she’ll need time to recover but seems to have no memory of the recent attacks she committed.
Batman then says he will help Gotham Girl become a hero like he should have originally. Flash, who has his mask off, asks what happens if she snaps again. Batman responds by saying there is no good solution but they can’t stop her from being a hero. Flash fires back that they keep bringing others into this life even if they know it’s not the right thing to do.
Batman wonders what happened to Barry Allen’s optimism. Barry responds by saying that died along with Wally. He continues by saying that Batman is just clueless, playing everything by ear and tricking everyone to think “Batman always has a plan.”
Barry says they can’t let this keep happening as the price for wearing costumes is to great. Bruce takes of his mask and says they pay the price so their loved ones don’t have to. Barry fires back that their loved ones do because they keep failing with their always being a new case and mystery to solve.
Barry puts on his mask back on and starts walking out. As he does he says that the one thing they have solved is that they are putting those they love in danger, causing them to get caught in the crossfire with more dead like Robin. This mention sets Bruce off who says “At least I never forgot one of my partners existed.”
This sets Flash off and rushes at Bruce, who puts his mask back on. The Batcave’s defenses turn against Flash. Flash is able to dodge all the defenses and is able to reach Batman. Flash stops his fist within centimeters from Batman’s face.
Flash reflects he could punch Batman a hundred times before he even reacted but he won’t because he is not Batman. Flash then leaves the Batcave.
When Barry gets back home and finds a letter from Iris. Barry reads it to find Iris talking about how she felt while writing Wally’s obituary. She says that as she started to find the words to talk about Wally as a hero she discover she was actually writing Barry’s obituary. She goes on to say that after hearing Barry talk about Wally to Gotham Girl she knew Barry decided a long time ago that he was willing to pay the price that comes with the superhero lifestyle. She finishes by saying that while she loves Barry she can’t pay the same price as she must live the life he has saved countless times while he is alone saving everyone.
In both Gotham City and Central City Batman and Flash, respectively are shown stopping criminals as Barry finishes reading the letter.
Sometime later Batman is staring at a screen filled with pictures of various heroes. He talks to someone who is offscreen about how often they’ve saved the multiverse. Batman says that the latest crisis is different as the person behind it could have turned anyone of their allies so they can’t trust anyone.
Superman appears and says he doesn’t even know if he can trust Batman but they are out of options. Superman then says this mystery is bigger than them and they need to be careful who they let in.
Superman asks if they can start by trusting they can bring Flash into the fold by showing him the evidence. Batman stays silent as he turns his attention to Flash’s picture on his screen. End of issue.
The Good: The most interesting part “The Price” has been the dynamic between Batman and Flash. Understanding that, Joshua Williamson spent the majority of The Flash #65 on the status of Batman and Flash’s relationship in the post-Heroes In Crisis world. While this was a great decision, it did in turn hurt the overall development of Gotham Girl.
When it comes to putting over the severity of what happened over at Sanctuary, The Flash #65 is arguably the best comic to deliver on the heavy impact of that event. Specifically, focusing this issue around Batman, Flash and Iris West was the best choice Williamson could have made. These three characters are closely tied to what happened at Sanctuary. That tie made the raw emotion the three of them showed throughout The Flash #65 come across as genuine.
While she was in the issue less than Batman and Flash, Iris West was the star of The Flash #65. The pain of losing her nephew, Wally West, was already a hard thing to deal with. Adding in how she put her faith in Flash, Batman and other heroes to help Wally through his problems makes things worse. That trust, especially when it comes to Barry Allen, was shattered as they did not keep to their promise.
Framing Iris in this way made her character arc instantly rise to being the most important views on everything going on with Heroes In Crisis. The reality is Iris is us. She is a normal person who because of her relationship with Barry and Wally has become part of the superhero world. But even as she has been part of that life for several years she is still a normal person living in a world filled with god-like people.
This is the perspective that has been missing to give full insight in what is going on in Heroes In Crisis. Williamson uses this part of Iris’ character extremely well to remind the reader that the lives Batman and Flash are living is never not going to be extraordinary. No matter how much time they spend not wearing their masks at the end of the day they are superheroes. That pull to save the day will always be there for them. While we can’t hope that they can still live happy lives there is a likelihood that they will die as heroes. We have already seen examples of that with the Crisis On Infinite Earths and Final Crisis events.
Iris’ development and letter she wrote to close The Flash #65 main story was a great compliment to the argument between Bruce and Barry in the Batcave. With everything that has happened to them in the last year alone we can clearly see they are both beyond a breaking point. All the tension that has been building cannot be held back anymore and explode in the Batcave.
Through that explosion of emotion Williamson was able to cut into what makes Bruce and Barry tick. At their cores both are driven to help others and always find a way to save the day. It is from there that they both split off. That split made Barry’s words about Bruce constant secret keeping in particular standout. Because as we have seen many times there are a lot of truths to what Barry was saying.
Through Barry’s dialogue Williamson was still able to write Bruce in a way that he isn’t painted as a bad guy. Bruce is flawed just like everyone else. The conflict with Gotham Girl shows that about Bruce. At the same time, Bruce won’t give up on trying to do what he believes is the right thing to do. Which is something we saw with how he fired back at Barry for losing his hopeful nature for a bit as he deals with Wally death.
Both Bruce and Wally releasing their frustrations with each other made the end of their conversation have an even greater impact. Both referencing what has happened to Jason Todd and Wally West was that “OH SHIT” moment that this entire crossover was building towards. Williamson executed that moment extremely well with Flash being mere centimeters away from hitting Batman. It was a great way to leave the reader itching to see how the next big conversation between Batman and Flash will go down.
Speaking of which, the flash forward epilogue involving Batman and Superman was an unexpected inclusion to bookend “The Price” crossover. With all that is going on the DC Universe between Heroes In Crisis, Doomsday Clock and more, learning that there is mystery that compel both Batman and Superman to keep things a secret is very interesting. What exactly that mystery is makes the upcoming Year Of Villains one-shot the most important comic for fans to read now. Given Batman’s reaction at the end we will likely cycle back to his dynamic with Flash, which still has a lot of potential after “The Price” crossover.
Once again Rafa Sandoval delivered big with his artwork throughout The Flash #65. As I said before, Sandoval continues to impress with how he makes the entire comic book feel like a big event. He has grown so much in how he captures the iconic designs of Batman, Flash and Superman. The sense of motion he has with each page is wonderful. That is something that the double splash page of Flash nearly punching Batman showed that impactful artwork Sandoval delivers.
The Bad: There is no doubt the strong character work for Batman, Flash and Iris West elevate the entire “The Price” crossover. Unfortunately this crossover has been brought down by the poor development of Gotham Girl over the course of this story. That was once again the case for The Flash #65. As I’ve said in previous reviews of this crossover, there were major parts of Gotham Girl’s story that are missing. Even as we concluded her story in this crossover there was a lot of development missing from her character arc.
A major part of that is the fact Gotham Girl never was put over a layered character. Throughout this story she just looked like a crazy person obsessed with power. That is a far cry from how she has been a sympathetic person who wanted to be a superhero so badly she was corrupted by outside forces. Especially if this is your first experience with reading about Gotham Girl, the depth of her character is almost non-existent.
And halfway into The Flash #65 she was quickly taken out and put into a tank to recover from the Venom she injected herself with. The way Williamson handled Gotham Girl made her nothing more than a plot device to break the relationship between Batman and Flash. It’s a disappointing way to end her story for now since there seemed to be a bigger arc set up around her mysterious backer that just disappeared.
It did not help that both Batman and Flash ended up forgetting about her after putting Gotham Girl in the recovery tank. We don’t even get a glimpse of how Batman plans on helping her. Instead in their respective endings all we see is Batman and Flash back in action fight bad guys. This just further paints the picture of how Gotham Girl was nothing more than a plot device for “The Price” to push Batman and Flash to the edge and break their partnership.
As compelling as the epilogue involving Batman and Superman is it was oddly timed. With how much DC Comics fans are already dealing Heroes In Crisis it is not fun to learn even darker times are ahead. There are already several major plotlines that are pushing how dark the DCU is, including multiple alternate universe comics, in the near future. I would not blame readers tired of this and wishing to have more fun within the DCU.
Overall: The Flash #65 was a major step up from recent issues of “The Price” crossover. It was disappointing how Gotham Girl turned out to be a plot device to push a major fallout between Batman and Flash. Luckily the confrontation between Batman and Flash in the Batcave and Iris West’s role in this story made up for negatives involving Gotham Girl. The epilogue in The Flash #65, hinting at an even bigger story ahead, provides a lot of intrigue for several major comic books DC Comics is publishing later this year. For that, along with strong character work for Batman, Flash and Iris, The Flash #65 is a solid end to “The Price” crossover.
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