Within the Court of Nerds, there are few books that are unanimously held in high regard, and the Flash by Josh Williamson happens to be one of few. I’m one of the latest converts, and it’s thanks in part to the newest offering.
There is a LOT to unpack in this book: This issue is the aftermath of the Perfect Storm story arc that saw Grodd lay waste to Central City in a mad effort to harness the Speed Force and destroy Barry Allen. Team Flash is circling the city on a mission of repair, while Barry and Wally deal with the fallout in their personal lives, and this is the type of introspective storytelling that Williamson does so damn well.
Barry goes to Iron Heights to speak with Meena, and after all they’ve been through since issue 34 there is still some incredible chemistry between them. Meena has seen all the aspects of the Speed Force as Barry has, and she’s still trying to find her place in this world – especially with the Negative Speed Force being kept at bay within her. He’s the same old big-hearted Barry, and it lends a real star-crossed quality to their interaction.
The most emotionally-heavy part of this issue is when Iris is finally confronted by OG Wally (or Strawberry Wally as he’s lovingly referred to on Reddit). This is intense and heartfelt as the reader hangs on tight while Wally’s emotions are displayed in every panel; his second thoughts, his fear, his trepidation. Artist Christian Duce, whose work in this issue is a tour du force, captures all of this with diamond-like precision. Like, don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Carmine Di Giandomenico on this title, but holy hell does Duce make this story crackle. He’s got to be one of the best – if not THE best – artists who desperately NEEDS to be in a regular book.
And really, although there’s a lot of running around in this book, the reason this interlude between arcs works so well is that incredible synergy between Williamson’s words and Duce’s art: both convey the interpersonal relationships between these characters so well that it’s downright hard not to be moved. Every scene that involves Iris West in this book is emotionally resonant, and the payoffs in her revelations are extremely gratifying.
Oh, and there's that jaw-dropping splash on the last page we have to deal with.
This is an all-around beautiful issue and an easy jumping-on point that easily establishes who the characters are and why they work so well together. Get ready to FEEL.