After Barry Allen gets a peek at a dystopian future Central City, he has to come to grips with his powers. Does he really have what it takes to become a superhero? Find out in The Flash #71 from DC Comics.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 22, 2019
Previously in The Flash: We get a take on The Flash’s origin story, as Barry Allen, forensic scientist, arrives late at the scene of a crime. Iris West, reporter, is there too, hoping to get a story. As Barry makes his way back across town, a storm starts brewing, which gets him thinking about his mother’s murder. He’s distracted as he works late into the night, when lightning strikes. When he wakes up in the hospital, he finds he has super speed that he’s tapping into almost reflexively. As a scientist, he starts observing and analyzing himself and his powers, burning through lots of shoes in the process. Just as he thinks he’s starting to get a handle on his speed, he accidentally sends himself forward in time where he meets…The Flash!
RELUCTANTLY LEARNING THE ROPES
As The Flash #71 opens, Barry is trying to take it all in. He is not in the Central City he knows. The streets are full of armored forces capturing people. Strange flags fly overhead. The experience triggers memories of the night of his mother’s murder. The superhero he met last week, muscular and gray-haired, tries to reassure him, and also tells him that they’re the same person. I really like Barry’s reaction – at full speed he tries to explain this away by assuming he must still be in a coma and that this is not really happening. This seems such a truly human response.
But there’s never enough time for Barry Allen. Green-armored soldiers approach them, and the older Flash grabs Barry and tells him to run. He’s focused on trying to evade the Turtle’s guards and to get Barry back home. Barry comes to grips with the fact that this actually could be him in the future, and asks Flash the all-important question – how does he stop running without tripping? The story does a good job of having some things like this be legitimately awkward without being slapstick. The Flash asks Barry some questions to be sure he’s the right one from the right timeline. Then he fills him in on what’s going on – that The Turtle has created an energy barrier over Central City and is stealing speed and energy from the people.
The Flash and Barry make their way to a junkyard, only to find a bunch of The Turtle’s forces waiting for them. We get a little more character development as the senior Flash fights, and Barry is on the sidelines, admitting, “I don’t know how to fight!” In a nice touch, the Flash advises him to “Use the Science!” (I love that line.) And Barry uses his arm to deflect someone with a tornado. Long story short, the Flash digs up the Cosmic Treadmill, fixes it, lectures him a little about the dangers of time travel, and sends him home.
Once there, Barry has a lot more to think about. The experience leaves him shaken and he just doesn’t see himself becoming a superhero. Then, in a nice nod to classic Flash stories, he realizes he’s late for a coffee date with Iris. A police car zooms by on its way to a bank robbery – not Barry’s concern. But then, in front of the bank, he sees a man in green shell-like armor. Police cars stop moving and bullets hang motionless in the air around him. Yes, it’s the Turtle. Barry freezes. Iris, on the other hand, intrepidly runs toward the action. As the Turtle finishes crossing the street, the car resumes full speed and heads straight toward Iris. No time for decision making – Barry whisks her out of the way and confronts the Turtle.
THE FLASH – OLD AND YOUNG
One of the things I noticed in The Flash #71 that I think is used to great effect is groups of several small panels. The first page is full of them – fifteen panels filling a page. But the way they’re used captures several successive moments in time. The opening really feels like Barry taking in all the glimpses of the world at superspeed and putting them together. It’s a really neat effect. It’s used a couple more times, sparingly and just when it really fits the story.
The contrast between (young) Barry and (old) Flash is terrific. It isn’t just that the Flash has graying hair and a beard. He’s more muscular (because he’s been superheroing for a while), whereas Barry is still built like a pretty average guy. But it’s deeper than that – young Barry is introverted, still deeply affected by his mother’s murder, pessimistic, and pretty discombobulated. Older Barry, despite being a speedster, is much calmer, and darn it if he doesn’t actually have some laugh lines around his eyes. It gives me hope that present-day Barry will grow out of his funk.
BOTTOM LINE: A SOLID RE-ENVISIONING OF THE FLASH’S ORIGIN
I’ve been a fan of The Flash for a long time, and The Flash #71 is solid take on his origin and becoming a hero. If we’re going to be getting into time travel anyway, I like hitting it right out of the gate, explaining the paradoxes, and not spending time agonizing about it. I also like the choice of the Turtle being the villain he faces right out of the gate because I think dealing with the slowness effect is going to make him have to think his way out of problems.
The Flash #71
I’ve been a fan of The Flash for a long time, and The Flash #71 is solid take on his origin and becoming a hero.