RIP, The Speed Force: 1994-2019. You will be missed. Your Major Spoilers review of The Flash #81 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: October 23, 2019
Previously in The Flash: Can Barry Allen and Hunter Zolomon work together long enough to beat death and save the Speed Force? Can Kid Flash and Avery, the Flash of China, discover what the Rogues want within the wreckage of Iron Heights? Even if the Flash survives, nothing will ever be the same again for the Flash family!
ZOOM VS. THE BLACK FLASH
Within the Speed Force, The Flash and Hunter “THE ULTIMATE FLASH” Zolomon are face-to-skelatonous face with The Black Flash, the embodiment of death for speedsters. Astonishingly, Zolomon seems to be holding his own with the death-god-thingy, thanks to his mastery of the Sage Force, the Still Force and the Strength Force (which gives him Ben Grimm hands, something I find quite amusing.) Barry manages to pull Zolomon away from the pointless fight, using the Forever Force to look back in time and see that Eobard Thawne has altered Hunter’s past the same way he altered Barry’s, which also has the effect of returning Hunter’s memories of Wally West. Back in Central City, Kid Flash and Avery Ho, the Flash from the Justice League of China prepare to engage with the Luthor-upgraded Rogues Gallery, when their powers start to act up. With his full memories back, Hunter knows the truth about what Flashes do: They commit The Ultimate Sacrifice™! Throwing himself into motion, he sacrifices himself to repair the breaks in the force barriers, leaving Barry to run from The Black Flash, barely escaping before he (as well as Kid Flash and Avery) are consumed by lightning and left seemingly powerless.
This is bad for Central City, as the mega-powered Rogues prepare to finish them off, once and for all.
“TUMORS ON THE SPEED FORCE”
There are a lot of moving parts to this story, and even if you’ve been following along some things aren’t entirely clear. Steadfast, the hero of the Still Force, has visions that tell him the entire multiverse is wrong, as does Hunter Zolomon, and Barry’s escape from Black Flash is a bit confusing to me. That said, it’s a very exciting issue and one that seems to put the cap on the other forces for now, while leaving the Flash family in an even worse position than they started out. Kolins’ art is remarkable, as most of the issue takes place in a formless void, but the backgrounds never feel blank or dull. All the speed-motion is beautifully rendered, and even though Barry and Hunter are in nearly-identical Flash costumes, there’s little confusion over who is whom and which Flash is doing what. The confusing part comes in a story that has three characters called Flash, two Wally Wests, six extradimensional forces and a team of Rogues with all new looks and powers, but Williamson is skilled at keeping all those elements in play, with most of the issue working for me narratively. Even the obligatory ‘Year of the Villain’ elements here seem organically part of the madness of Flash’s life, something that isn’t true of all the YotV crossovers I’ve been reading lately.
BOTTOM LINE: A SHOCKING ENDING
I sincerely doubt that the Speed Force is actually “dead”, this being comics and all, but for the Flashes to lose all their speed at the worst possible time makes for a nice cliffhanger and a solid “OHMYGOD, THE VILLAINS ARE WINNING!” ending here. The Flash #81 is a complex story that wobbles a bit here and there, but never comes off the rails, giving us no fewer than three shocking moments, a killer cliffhanger and the hope that we’ve put some of the Forces to rest for a minute, with excellent art by Kolins adding up to 4 out of 5 stars overall. Much as with the Spectrum Wars of Green Lantern a few years ago, every issue can’t be about the various power sources forever, but this one makes for a thrilling issue.
Dear Spoilerite,At Major Spoilers, we strive to create original content that you find interesting and entertaining. Producing, writing, recording, editing, and researching requires significant resources. We pay writers, podcast hosts, and other staff members who work tirelessly to provide you with insights into the comic book, gaming, and pop culture industries. Help us keep MajorSpoilers.com strong. Become a Patron (and our superhero) today.
THE FLASH #81
From one massive crisis to another, so is the life of the Flash, but this one makes for an explosive setup for what comes next.