The Rogues, under the authority of Central City PD, have taken down The Flash. Now, Barry Allen is about to be unmasked and put in jail by his own boss… Your Major Spoilers review of The Flash #50 awaits!
THE FLASH #50
Writer: Van Jensen
Penciler: Jesus Merino & Paul Pelletier
Inker: Jesus Merino/Scott Hanna/Tony Kordos/Wayne Faucher
Colorist: Guy Major & Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in The Flash: His name is Barry Allen. An accident with a bolt of lightning… uh… something something super-speed, and now he’s the Fastest Man Alive. Cue music!
He’s also in the custody of the Central City Police Department, and things are looking very dark, indeed…
It’s a pretty shocking opening salvo, as The Flash is captured by his most dangerous villains, with Captain Cold, of all people, announcing that he’s under arrest. Our hero is quickly taken into custody by Captain Frye and dragged away in handcuffs to Iron Heights, for crimes that no one in the issue bothers to explain to us. It’s a moment that succeeds in being shocking, but doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny, as Flash repeatedly asks why they’re doing this, and Captain Frye merely spouts warmed-over J. Jonah Jameson “threat or menace” lines to the man with whom he has personally worked to save the city. Elsewhere, Henry Allen gets word that his son has been captured, and calls in a favor, causing the guards at Iron Heights to release Girder, with specific instructions to free The Flash. I have no idea how that works, nor how an ostensibly secure prison has such a ridiculously easy weakness. A fight breaks out, Flash’s restraints are broken, and EVERY SINGLE PRISONER in Iron Heights is freed. The Flash tries to intervene, only to get waylaid by the Rogues again, and hero and villains alike are surprised when the mastermind behind the whole things is revealed to be…
RIOT AT IRON HEIGHTS
…one of Batman’s villains. Because there’s a strict hierarchy, and fighting Batman makes you automatically more dangerous than the infinitely more powerful (and in a couple of cases, smarter and more capable) Rogues Gallery. There’s a cute backup story in this issue, featuring Wally West’s adventures in high school, but even that story is tied up in a weird plot-point where the costumed Wally “Kid Flash” West from another timeline appears to him as a ghost to help him learn to channel his powers. The backup tale’s art is much more consistent than in the main feature, as well, and the teenage high school hijinks (while utterly familiar) at least provide some charm. Also: one of Wally’s cohorts is a boy named Chunk, who resembles the Chunk from Wally’s late-80s solo series, which is also kind of cute. The choice to use Merino and Pelletier in the same issue is a strange one, as their styles are completely dissimilar (Merino’s work is full of sharp angles and shading, Pelletier’s is bulbous and clean-lined), and multiple inkers only exacerbate the inconsistencies of the art. None of it is overtly bad, but it leads to a patchwork feel to the visuals and a very off-putting experience from page to page.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A STRANGE REVEAL
Add in the Riddler reveal (and the fact that whomever drew his hat can’t draw a hat) and you have an issue that feels very unresolved and conflicted, with a shifting focus that ignores the fact that hundreds of the worst criminals around are free because of Barry’s dad to focus on the terrible threat of Edward Nigma. The Flash #50 doesn’t quite stick the metaphorical landing, with conflicts in tone, art vs. story, and even art team vs. art team, but it’s not a terrible issue, just one that can’t quite hold all it’s elements together, earning a merely okay 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. With Rebirth on the horizon, next issue might end up being the big blowout to end all blowouts, and the potential to make that story memorable are all here, even if they’re not implemented well…