Writing - 8/10
Art - 9/10
Overall - 8/10
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The Flash #86
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciler: Rafa Sandoval
Colorists: Arif Prianto and Hi-Fi
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: DC Comics
Maturity Rating: Teen
Release Date: January 15th, 2020
It is the final battle of the Flash and King Cold with the apocalyptic fate of Central City hanging in the balance. Barry must take some risks in his battle against a supercharged Cold, but he might end up going too far.
Barry’s Got a Need for Speed in The Flash #86
One of the biggest developments in the character history of the Flash is the Speed Force. The Flash is a character with absurdly-overpowered powers. The Speed Force offers an easy explanation for how these can work side-by-side with actual scientific concepts. The Speed Force also explains things that never had a solid explanation in the first place. Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 in 1985 had Barry Allen destroy the Anti-Monitor’s cannon and then disappear into thin air. Retroactively, it was explained that he had been absorbed into the Speed Force after running too fast. The story thus far, in the Year of the Villain story arc and here in The Flash #86, has dealt with Barry trying to control himself in an out-of-control Speed Force, brought forth by Lex Luthor’s manipulations. The last issue ended with a supercharged Captain Cold and a supercharged Flash. This issue was bound to get cold and fast.
Josh Williamson has the writing duties for The Flash #86. This becomes a bit of a mixed bag. Year of the Villain might have started well in some regards, and even was strong enough in this arc in the last issue. However, the more that writers must write Year of the Villain crossovers, the less they can tell their own stories. This is the case here.
Furthermore, although we can’t fault Williamson for falling back on the Speed Force for a story, it doesn’t really have the same weight here. The Speed Force has been responsible for some great stories over the years, but here it feels almost mundane. That character element which has literally had the ability to reshape the multiverse essentially becomes a MacGuffin. On the one hand, the story is strong enough, but on the other, it once again seems as though the Year of the Villain is creating too much pull away from the series themselves. It is hard to fault the writer for that. Equally, it makes this more of a good issue as opposed to a great one.
The art team is made up of Rafa Sandoval on pencils and Arif Prianto and Hi-Fi on colors. Unlike a lot of other comics, the tone in The Flash never gets to be dark, and so it is generally the role of the art team to keep things fast-paced. They succeed at that here with lots of flash and action.
There is, once again, a decent story in here, but one which is obfuscated by the Year of the Villain. Company-wide crossovers are a staple in the Big Two publishers, but generally seem lacking in their overall concept. That is the problem here, as the series loses a little bit of focus on its own story while trying to work in the bigger story. This issue is fun, though not something that we haven’t seen a hundred times before in Flash titles, and so will likely just become forgettable.
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