New forces are appearing and potentially thrusting Flash into new dangers and predicaments. What you don’t understand is usually the most dangerous and now there are three forces in play that are changing the game. This issue delves into those and one of them literally punches Flash in the face. Yikes.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
On your mark, get set and go for part one of “Grips of Strength”! Barry Allen races to the House of Heroes at the center of the Multiverse to meet with the Flashes of 52 worlds for info on the new forces he’s recently encountered. Meanwhile, back in Central City, Trickster’s turning informant against Warden Wolfe, but that brings about a sneak attack that Barry and the time-lost Commander Cold must team up to stop–if they can quit butting heads long enough to do so.
Why does this matter?
Flash is a primo superhero and whatever happens here affects all the other heroes. We’ve already seen the Still Force mess with the characters over in Justice League and it appears writer Joshua Williamson is exploring that further here.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with a familiar image from Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity which is a nice reminder the DC universe has many dimensions all living in tandem. Barry is questioning alternate Flash characters about the new forces he’s discovered and, interestingly, they have never heard of them. It appears the Still, Strength, and Sage forces are all unique to our Earth. This further puts the focus on the main Earth in the Multiversity to be our own. It also puts heightened importance on the acts of Barry and getting to the bottom of things.
That’s not easy when you have future versions of one of your main rogues running around. The concept of Rogues vs. Renegades comes up, which is a fun idea that continues to be explored. This issue also devotes most of its pages to the Trickster and the drama he’s embroiled in, which spills into Flash’s routine.
Christian Duce draws this issue and does a great job at it, from super detailed muscles down to well-rendered blur effects. The ink work gives most scenes a darker tone, adding a sense of seriousness to the narrative. There’s a fantastic double page splash near the end of the issue that sets up the cliffhanger very well, as well as some in-air combat Flash takes on that has nice touches. Colors by Luis Guerrero are bright and remind us Star City is a city of light.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Barry’s behavior in the opening scenes is interesting in how it characterizes him as impatient and possibly a poor leader. He doesn’t get the information he wants and seems to just blow off the other Flash characters. It’s probably intentional, but it does a bit of a disservice to the heroism of the character. He comes off as quite confrontational later on when speaking to Cold too. His character doesn’t quite land for me in this issue, even though there is a nice check in with Barry’s love life.
Is it good?
A good issue that ramps up the growing danger of new Forces Flash has yet to understand. Bookended with an opening up of the Multiverse characters and ending with a direct threat Barry brought to them, Williamson and Duce are crafting a superhero story that has tantalizing and growing dangers for Flash and the entire DCU.