The Trickster’s back and The Flash’ll be in trouble. (HEY LAA! HEY LAAA!) Your Major Spoilers review of The Flash #68 awaits!
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Scott Kolins
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 10, 2019
Previously in The Flash: The Flash has arrived back in his home of Central City to discover something… off. The people are all acting strangely, including his friends and colleagues-but before Barry can figure out why, the entire Central City PD attacks! At last the great trick is revealed: the Trickster now rules supreme! With Iron Heights as his fun-house base of operations, Trickster plunges the entire city into madness-and the Flash is powerless to save them!
“I FEEL… HAPPY!”
As our story begins, future law enforcer Commander Cold has been captured by James Jesse, the original Trickster, who is working in concert with his replacement to manipulate the entirety of Central City through The Sage Force (which is essentially the Speed Force, only for mind-powers, I guess?) When his latest batch of people to be brainwashed arrives, Barry Allen of the CCPD is among them, and undergoes the transformation process…
…but it’s a trick! Thanks to a little super-vibration, Barry wasn’t affected, and suits up to fight both Tricksters with the help of Commander Cold. Jesse has a bone to pick with Warden Wolfe of Iron Heights Prison for years of torture, but when The Flash tries to attack, he finds that Cold is actually under the influence of Trickster as well, and gets taken out by a cold blast, leading to a horrifying final page.
I SUSPECT THERE ARE ILLUSIONS IN PLAY HERE
So, here’s the thing about shock endings: Some of them work because you never saw this coming, some work because they’re unthinkable, some work out of the sheer element of surprise. This issue’s ending, where Trickster has seemingly mutilated The Flash with a chainsaw, leaving him without legs, doesn’t work on any level. It’s just brutal body horror and it completely expends any goodwill that the rest of the story built up (even if I’m pretty much certain that it’s all another of Jesse’s tricks or illusions.) Kolins does a good job with the art in this issue, especially his rendition of the current Flash costume with all it’s details and speedlines and noodly bits, and the brief bit of fighty-fighty that we get is quiet lovely. I even appreciate the story giving James Jesse a reason for his sudden turn to brutality and mind-control, though the question of Axel’s resurrection is sort of brushed off, something that I hope is returned to in future issues.
BOTTOM LINE: UGH… THAT ENDING
Then again, I’m not entirely sure I want to come back for the next issue because of how unpleasant this issue’s climax actually was, especially if they’re going to stick with Barry Allen’s injuries. The Flash #68 is one of those rare cases where I hope for a big change-up or fake-out at the beginning of the next issue, an issue where even strong art and characterization get knocked down by one monumentally mishandled story moment and even if they immediately reveal that it’s a sham, having The Flash dismembered blows the whole thing, leaving the issue with an underwhelming 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.
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THE FLASH #68
There are some interesting moments to be had here, and Kolins' art delivers most of the time, but the final page makes me not want to read any more Flash any time soon.