The Flash #35 | Writer: Joshua Williamson, Michael Moreci | Art: Pop Mhan | Color Ivan Plascencia | DC Comics | 11.22.2017
Joshua Williamson is getting really good at playing the long game in the world of the Speed Force with the evolving Meena Dhawan. In the early issues, she acted as Barry's love interest and the reason for his extreme levels of happiness in the early issues of Rebirth.
Now, well, without spoiling anything, things are a little complicated. We left things in issue 34 with Meena running tests on The Flash, which then turned out to be a nasty Black Hole ruse that ended up with her stealing the negative speed force energy.
While the story on the surface paints Meena has a newfound villain working with Black Hole, it's so much more to that when you look at the scope created by Williamson and Moreci.
Barry Allen has been hoarding the all-powerful Speed Force to himself, acting as the warden, judge, jury and executioner, and this hasn't exactly sat well with other speedsters. Much like we see on the CW's TV incarnation of the character, Barry's Flash tends to hog the Speed Force both literally and figuratively with some of the information behind it.
The ability to make me feel sympathy for this lover turned killed off lover turned villain is quite impressive, and Williamson can be credited for setting it up by going all in on the quick albeit deep relationship between Meena-Barry.
This Rebirth run on Flash has largely been Speed Force based, as stories in the past have as well, but this one has felt deeper while more simple at the same time. We've seen villains come and go, strange storylines develop and play out, but the central theme has been on the Speed Force; how it controls Barry, how it powers the Flash, how much Barry controls it and the life-threatening, both actual and theoretical, consequences it can have on our central character.
Williamson's run on the Flash has been both an homage to past ones while carving out his own legacy among the world-crushing writers to graze the covers as writer.
Even in a setup issue, with the bigger picture in mind, Williamson and Moreci create one that has both an immediate and lasting impact. As for the art, Mhan reaches into my heart in a loving "Temple of Doom" manner in the way he fiddles around with the structure and format, as he absolutely crushes a full-page spread with Flash and Kid Flash taking on Black Hole agents as Meena rushes off.
There are twisted panels and multiple shots of the speedsters doing their thing, but all in all, the artist was able to capture the beautifully controlled chaos with enough of his identity to make the rotating wheel of Flash art remain fresh with a hint of impressive consistency.
Rating: 8/10: Joshua Williamson deserves all the praise for his work on The Flash since DC's Rebirth kicked in. The issues have been insanely consistent while feeling fresh with every step along the way. The writer shows off his long-game storytelling in issue #35, and Pop Mhan's controlled chaos and playful use of panels make this issue a worthwhile grab.