Barry Has To Make Up For His Mistakes In Terrifying Ways In The Flash #43

by James Ferguson

Barry Allen continues to makes mistakes by not trusting those closest to him. He stubbornly pushed everyone away, determined that the only way to stop Gorilla Grodd, who has taken Central City hostage in a time storm to steal the Speed Force, was to get his powers back and do it himself. That backfired as it allowed Grodd to take control of the extended Flash Family. Now Barry has to stay one step ahead of Kid Flash, Avery, Godspeed, and Wally West while trying to figure out how to stop Grodd for real this time.

The Flash #43 works like a horror story to some extent. Barry is being hunted through the city by a group of speedsters. Grodd is controlling them all and he’s taunting Barry by running by him at super speed. For example, when Barry sees Kid Flash in a rear view mirror on a car, the boy’s grin appears twisted and terrifying. When he turns around, there’s no on there.
My favorite effect like this comes right after this moment as Avery and Godspeed try to take Barry down verbally with quick jabs as they run by him. Artist Carmine Di Giandomenico doesn’t show the characters themselves. Instead, there’s a rough form in the lightning that flies by Barry. In one panel you can make out a face. In another, you see aspects of Godspeed’s costume. Even letterer Steve Wands gets in on this as the word balloons have a blurred after-image, showing just how fast they’re moving.

When we finally see the mind-controlled speedsters, they’re twisted versions of their past selves. Different colored lightning pulses off of them in erratic directions as their eyes glow a menacing red. Colorist Ivan Plascencia did a tremendous job with this. These are monsters that have taken the form of Barry’s friends and family. This becomes even more frightening when they start to attack, creating these after-images all around Barry as they deliver blow after blow.
While the battle between Flash and the mind-controlled speedsters is awesome, it’s rivaled by the one between Barry and Grodd. This one takes different forms throughout The Flash #43. It starts as verbal fight, trading barbs as Barry runs through Central City. Since Grodd can read his mind, Barry has to be careful how he puts his plan together. He doesn’t want to reveal his hand.

When they-re reunited, the battle gets physical with Grodd looming over Barry almost like King Kong. Di Giandomenico packs the pages with shots of them going at it at super speed. Grodd transforms from a poised gorilla to a rabid animal as Barry continues to evade him.
Around this point, Barry tries to tug on this family thread, both to try to get through to the speedsters and to show how Grodd crossed a line by attacking those closest to him. I don’t buy this because if Barry felt this way, he wouldn’t have selfishly tried to get his powers back instead of working with everyone. It’s like he’s learned absolutely nothing from all the crazy stuff he’s been through during this series, especially within this arc. He can’t have it both ways. He can either let these folks in and work with them or he can be a loner. Family is part of you, so you can’t just bring them in close when it’s convenient.

Also on this point, I’m surprised that Godspeed is considered family. They worked together on the police force for some time before they got their powers, but Barry put him out to pasture after Godspeed killed people. That seemed to be a line he couldn’t cross, and now he’s family and Barry will do anything for him.
While the path to get there is a little off, the final pages of The Flash #43 bring some key elements together and in typical Joshua Williamson fashion, it’s with one great cliffhanger. The Flash Family was shaken to its core and now they have the chance to stand united once again. The big question is, will they be able to continue to do that after the events of this arc?
The Flash #43 is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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