The Flash #773 is a reliably fun installment of what has turned out to be a delightfully charming series from the top-class creative team of writer Jeremy Adams and artists Will Conrad and Alex Sinclair. While this issue may have moved the story needle the least out of each chapter so far, it’s another terrific showcase for Wally that is filled to the brim with superhero panache and a lot of heart.
The story picks up in media res, following Wally as he responds to a string of attacks from a newly revitalized supervillain, Mick Rory aka Heatwave. Despite the dire looking circumstances, Wally manages to get everyone to safety with relative ease and aplomb. The art here is classic Flash material — a specialty of this series so far — complete with dynamic, jagged panels and vibrant bolts of speed force energy trailing behind multiple Wallys running through several poses within milliseconds.
Meanwhile, the light workplace comedy introduced in the last issue continues here as Wally balances trying to help his colleagues perform mundane science lab minutia while also balancing his superheroing on the side. Across the cosmos, we also get yet another brief glimpse of the vague cosmic threat that has been looming over this book for the past several issues. It’s still unclear what exactly is on the horizon, but it’s almost certainly bad news.
The book climaxes with yet another showdown between The Flash and Heat Wave that would have been satisfying enough on its own. The art team of Conrad and Sinclair provides a thrilling and especially well-paced showcase for both of these unique characters’ power sets, and there’s plenty of witty banter between hero and villain to go around as they exchange eye-popping blows. One full-page spread featuring a particularly iconic Flash maneuver is especially satisfying.
But the real surprise of the issue comes after the battle has concluded. As Wally stands over Heat Wave ready to gloat, a desperate look on the villain’s face instead makes Wally question why he feels the need to return to crime after having paid his dues.
What follows is a bit of exceptional synergy between art and writing. An extremely poignant monologue written by Adams is paired with a heartbreaking close-up of Heat Wave crying behind his helmet, evoking genuine pathos in what has heretofore been a fairly shallow fistfight. This felt like an especially inspired panel composition to me and really served to give the otherwise run-of-the-mill story a unique angle.
It feels as if in every issue of this series, whether intentionally or not, Adams gives Wally West space in the story to reflect on the dark places that the character has gone to so often. When Wally flips expectations by comforting Heat Wave rather than beating him to a pulp, it’s hard to imagine he isn’t speaking to his former self and directly addressing the questionable aspects of his character evolution that fans have found so hard to swallow in his recent history.
The fact that Adams manages to accomplish all this while gracefully moving Wally’s character back to his more classic and plucky roots is admirable, and shows a real mastery of craft as well as a deep knowledge and love of the character. Conrad and Sinclair have been just as good with their art every step of the way, resulting in a series that manages to be classic fun, while also having something interesting to say about where their titular character has been and where he’s going.
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