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‘The Flash #50’ (review)

Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Howard Porter
Published by DC Comics

“You are not…
…and never will be…
…The Flash!”

So take that Zoom.

Welcome to the 50th issue of The Flash, and the culmination of the Allen family’s summer blockbuster-spectacular Flash War.

It’s been seven years since Barry Allen broke space and time in an attempt to prevent his mother’s death. To commemorate that escapade it seems, Barry and Wally have been barreling down a far too similar road – Wally hell-bent on saving his children from purgatory in the Speed Force, and Barry determined to spare his one-time protege from making the same disastrous reality-breaking mistakes he once made.

The ensuing conflict has given both our heroes the chance to learn lessons you would have thought they both would have learned long before now. I’m glad they’ve reconciled and proved to themselves once again the enduring power of family in the face of insurmountable odds. And I’m glad they didn’t break the world.

But inasmuch that we already knew Team Flash would save the day once again, the only uncertainty being how, and with what consequences, it’s hard at the end of Josh Williamson’s run to not feel that this final blockbuster issue isn’t something of an anticlimax.

For one thing, it fails in one particularly notable fashion, to live up to its own hype. I won’t spoil the ending by saying how, but there’s no way to walk away from the resolution of this issue without asking why. The entire purpose of the Flash War presumably was to shake things up, to shift the status quo. There is some of that, but nothing you’d expect, given everything that has come before.

There is an alteration in established Flash facts concerning the Speed Force. A substantial one too, though it’s hard to say exactly how the long-term consequences of that are going to shake out. And there is one splash of exciting comic magic that will appeal to the most nostalgic amongst us, even if that development too is hard to predict in its trajectory going forward. And then there’s the Strength Force and the Sage Force, two new super-potentials from beyond the ‘Force barrier’ that absolutely demand further exploration.

But that’s about it. And that’s strange given everything that’s been introduced, teased and hinted at for the last several months. Maybe next issue then?

Certainly, we have dodged cataclysm, which is impressive given just how fast and loose our speedsters have been playing with the Speed Force. Zoom’s outright lunacy is dealt with decisively, even if it’s accomplished in a manner that raises more questions that it attempts to resolve in this issue. And presumably the Strength Force and the Sage Force will continue to figure prominently in the DCU somehow, given all that’s been happening in the Justice League, and how little Williamson elaborates upon them in these pages.

But this, as with so much else introduced to us in the last several issues, will simply have to wait. There is a lot yet to be resolved, and much to explore. That’s good in one sense. I look forward to the stories that will pick up these new ideas and possibilities and run with them. They deserve that attention.

It seems though that when all is said and done, the greatest strength of the Flash War has been to set these ideas and potentials in motion.

It’s anyone’s guess where that will all lead to. But given the speed at which our heroes operate – and the enduring power and faith in family I referenced earlier – I’d sure as heck like to think it won’t take them very long to get there.

Next Issue: Someone’s Last Run! (You guys sure about that??) And the return of Scott Kollins! (Heck, maybe you are.)


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