By: Geoff Johns & Scott Kolins (storytellers), Francis Manapul (artist), Michael Atieyh and Brian Buccellato (colorists)
The Story: What will Iris do when she walks in on the Flash—with another woman?
The Review: There was some risk that this “last” issue of The Flash would come off feeling rushed and inconclusive, what with Flashpoint coming right on its heels. Johns spent a pretty good chunk of the last couple issues playing up the emotional dramatics among the Flash family, all of which would’ve been a waste if he resolved them too quickly just to get a move on with his sprawling, crossover storyline.
So it’s a relief to see Johns taking some care to tie up the series’ loose ends before putting his focus on bigger things. Barry’s encounter with Zoom not only forces him to confront the grisly truth about his mother’s death, but since Bart comes along for the ride, the bad air between them gets cleared up as well. With his internal conflict out in the open, that frees him up to have that much needed heart-to-heart with Iris, and all is well once more.
On the other hand, the ease with which all these tensions have been loosened up kind of show how needless all these melodramatics really were. It feels Johns created that whole plot wrinkle just to sell this new, sudden revelation that Barry’s a closet ice-man, emotionally. In fact, both Iris and Patty Spivot spend a good chunk of this issue harping on that point, even though Johns hasn’t shown it all that well.
You have to take into context that Barry was trying to deal with the knowledge that his mother died at the hands of—spoiler alert—Zoom, a man who became a villain “because” of him. It seems very natural he’d need some private time to process this, a fact he tried to communicate to his family multiple times (see Flash #9 and #10). But his family still overreacted to what they perceived as distancing himself from them, which was topped by last issue’s ridiculous intervention.
I wasn’t a fan of Johns’ change to Barry’s history where his mom got murdered when he was a kid. It seemed an unnecessary, artificial way to inject drama into a character that’s always had a fairly stable life. Adding in the extra layer of Reverse-Flash as the true culprit called attention to this unnatural retro-alteration. Lately it feels like Johns is beating the whole dead mother issue just to give some more emotional kick to the changes he’s wreaking over in Flashpoint.
Kolins’ art plagues the majority of this issue, except for a much-appreciated breather from Manapul in the middle. His clean lines, subtle details, and sense of emotion really help give the dramatic scenes between Barry, Patty, and Iris a lot of tension bubbling under their carefully controlled behavior. This is in stark contrast to Kolins’ overemotional messiness and downright silly-looking action scenes (Zoom backhands Hot Pursuit’s helmet off his face—how does that work, exactly?). The coloring fits the quality of the art it fills in: Atiyeh’s is dark and heavy while Buccellato’s looks light but clear.
Conclusion: Not the greatest way to finish, but Johns gets the job done acceptably. Can we skip over to Flashpoint now?
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – You’d think Hot Pursuit, as an analogue to the Flash, would go out with more fanfare and heroism than that, but those are the hazards of being a parallel copy, I guess.