A Desperate Barry Allen Makes Some Tough Calls In The Flash #42

by James Ferguson

Gorilla Grodd, with the help of Black Hole, Negative Flash, Raijin, and Multiplex, has stolen Barry Allen’s speed and frozen Central City in time. The telepathic villain is dying from some kind of disease and he thinks the only cure is the Speed Force. It’s up to the extended Flash Family to stop this madness, however they’re going to have to learn to trust each other again after Barry makes some tough calls in a desperate move to get his powers back. He’s released Godspeed from Iron Heights, the same guy that tried to kill Kid Flash and Avery (The Flash from Justice League China) to steal their speed.

If you’re keeping track at home, this is part four of the “Perfect Storm” storyline and the third artist to work on the arc. Dan Panosian picks up the art reigns and while his work is solid, it’s a different look and feel than the other artists that have worked on this. I’ve criticized this flip flopping of artists on other DC books lately, but this feels excessive. It’s going to be rather jarring to read this in a trade paperback.
Panosian’s pencils are great for the more sedentary, dialogue filled scenes, however they lack energy in the action sequences. Characters look awkward when they’re running or fighting which is a large percentage of what the Flash does. This wouldn’t be that bad if it didn’t immediately follow work like Carmine Di Giandomenico, where the artwork feels like it’s moving.

In other news, Barry Allen is an idiot. Since this series began, Barry has been broken down and realized the flaws in his way of thinking. He can’t do all of this by himself and he has to let others in. He revealed his secret identity to Kid Flash and it was exposed to Iris. Barry had to re-learn how to be a hero after he absorbed the Negative Speed Force. It was a whole journey. Based on the events in The Flash #42, it seems like he hasn’t learned anything at all from these hardships. He is so convinced that the only way to stop Grodd is to get his powers back. There are FOUR other speedsters working with him to fight Grodd including OG Wally West who is super experienced. While Barry may gets his powers back, it will come at the cost of his close friends.
Godspeed calls Barry out on some of this, pointing out that Barry wants permission to go through with this from his “bad friend.” At first, I was surprised that the guy that seemed to know Barry for the shortest amount of time knows him the best and can see right through his BS. August then points out that he knew Barry before he became the Flash and now that he’s standing in front of him sans powers, he’s a different man. What happened to the innocent young CSI? He’s consumed by the Speed Force and needs it back, like an addiction.

The build up to the final pages of The Flash #42 are equal parts exciting and frustrating. There’s a big battle between the Flash Family and the forces of Black Hole that culminates in Barry’s pigheaded Hail Mary play to get his powers back while Wally tries to explain why that’s a bad idea. Barry refuses to listen to his former protege and plows forward, despite years of experience fighting villains including Grodd as well as his extensive background in science. You just want to shake him. Don’t you see what’s going to happen, Barry?!

The Flash #42 and “Perfect Storm” are building towards the next arc “Flash War” in dramatic fashion. Lines are most definitely drawn and Barry is only making matters worse. I’m very curious as to how writer Joshua Williamson will have this play out. As if that wasn’t enough, Grodd is still a very real threat and the speedsters are no closer to stopping him. It’s time to prove yourself once again, Barry. You may save the day, but at what cost?
The Flash #42 is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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