by Geoff Johns (writer), Scott Kolins (art), Brian Buccellato (colors), and Sal Cipriano (letters)

The Story: The origin of the Reverse Flash…or at least the origin that he creates for himself.

What’s Good: In many ways, this issue can be read as one centered around a comic writer gone mad.  Rather, it’s about a character gone retcon crazy, who is hell-bent on retconning his own history as many times as necessary until he gets the optimal result.  It’s a very dark, but also slightly humorous bit of self-aware superhero comic goodness and it shows just how clever a writer Geoff Johns can be when he really tries.

The best part of it is how closely Johns plays it; Eobard Thawne and the Reverse Flash are separate characters.  Thawne is the story’s lead, no doubt, and the Reverse Flash is rather a demonic, mostly wordless presence, lurking around the corner, always ready to jump in and give Eobard a redo whenever things don’t go his way.  What results is a ridiculously fun romp through time that’s an absolute pisstake on the very idea of retroactive continuity.  The Reverse Flash “redos” become increasingly frequent as the issue wears on, which only makes it more amusing.  By issue’s end, you get the sense that if Eobard got a B on a paper, his future self would step in to kill the professor before ever having to write the paper.

That’s not to say that the things the Reverse Flash perpetrates are minor.  We learn that in his becoming antisocial and isolated was a slow, gradual process, one that he was one the one hand doomed to, but one that is also ironically exacerbated by his later attempts to retcon his own history.  Along the way, he does some truly evil things as only the Reverse Flash can.  As ever, the Reverse Flash is a bad, bad man and the acts he’s guilty of are fairly shocking.  Of course, Eobard and the Reverse Flash are two different kinds of evil, and one sees the descent between the two.  At least Eobard, while a wretch, is still human; the Reverse Flash comes across as something not so much

All told, this was a highly amusing but also very intelligent issue.  It’s one of those reading experiences where you sort of gasp and do a double-take when you realize what Johns is doing.  The Reverse Flash ends up feeling more compelling than ever and the end result is that I’m way more excited about Flashpoint than I was coming into this.

What’s Not So Good: While Scott Kolins’ artwork is quite strong and his depictions of Eobard and the Reverse Flash about as good as expected, I wasn’t a big fan of his inking and shading.  It’s almost like he overdid it a bit, resulting in an issue that at times feels a little muddier than it should.

Conclusion: An absolutely outstanding issue.  I wish all filler issues between major story-arcs could be this good.

Grade: A –

-Alex Evans