The Flash #31 is the finale issue of a two issue arc that’s part of a larger story starting with issue #27 where The Flash deals with being influenced by the Negative Speed Force he gained in "Running Scared."
"BLOODWORK" part two! Central City is the battleground for one of the most brutal fights of Barry Allen’s life as he squares off against the monstrous Bloodwork, whose powers are so gruesome we can’t tell you more about them here! Making things worse for The Flash as he confronts this unstoppable new threat is the fact that it’s all his fault! Witness the penultimate act of the Negative-Flash story and the beginning of an unforgettable new chapter in Barry Allen’s life…
So what’s happening?
The issue picks up almost directly where the previous ended with Flash fighting Bloodwork while also saving the citizens in danger. His Negative Speed Force powers work like a version of the Spider-Man symbiote with it increasing his aggression towards others while ramping up his powers, but again with some side effects as shown in previous issues. He catches up with Ramsey who switches to the design shown on the previous issue’s cover. After talking to Bloodwork and defeating him, Flash is given the news that he is being transferred to from the CCPD crime lab to another location along with another employee. He tries to give up his role as The Flash to Wally II until he fixes his powers before being told by Wally II that he’ll help Barry overcome the problems with his new powers.
So what’s good about the issue?
The artwork within the issue is stunning to look at; the first half of the issue is drawn by the previous issue’s artist, Neil Googe, during Barry’s costumed confrontation with Bloodwork, while the second half is drawn by Gus Vazquez with colors by Ivan Plascencia. The smooth lines of Googe during the confrontation give the veins attacking the city a snakelike quality as the colors by Plascencia complement them with a primary palette of reds, grays and purples. The time when Barry is overcome with the Negative Speed Force brings on a gray hue to Barry’s skin contrasts to the much lighter coloring of Barry when he’s with a clear mind. The coloring for the second half in Vazquez’ art uses a lot more blue hues on the much more angular lines that are used. The art style works well for the out of costume segment and shows emotions on many of the characters’ faces well.
The issue sets up a dramatic confrontation with Bloodwork and also explores what will happen with Barry’s job as a result of this recent behavior towards the members of the crime lab due to the increased aggression brought on by the Spider-Man symbiote-style Negative Speed Force that he gained in the "Running Scared" arc.
And the not so good parts?
Some of the character motivations aren’t the best at times. Bloodwork jumps to the logic of killing innocent civilians to prevent them from hurting him, and his out of control rampage is something he blames on The Flash confronting him for committing the crime of stealing samples in order to cure his hemophilia. It’s not explained whether the experiments caused his personality to unhinge or whether that’s how the villain thinks for himself which drags down the writing of the issue. However there is a moment when Barry explains his current problem to Ramsey that he shows some regrets.
When it comes to the art, the mouths in the second half of the issue can at times look rather strange, especially on Barry when he is smiling with teeth looking like they’re being bared every time somebody speaks. Williamson also uses captions incredibly frequently during the first few pages to relay information regarding the previous issue and current happenings within the comic which take up large portions of the page. While Williamson seems to have the perfect villain for a horror style on the book, the art takes it in a different direction instead.
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