The Strength Force Finds A Home In The Flash #52

by James Ferguson

Still reeling from the aftermath of Flash War, Barry is on the hunt for answers. The force barrier that held the Speed Force together has been shattered, revealing the existence of three other forces, Sage, Still, and Strength. Barry turns to the House of Heroes to consult with Flashes of different worlds within the Multiverse for help.

Barry feels out of his element with this new status quo. I’m still not a fan of the idea of multiple forces since it feels like a weird version of the various colored Lantern Corps, but I am curious if it gives us some more information about the Speed Force. I’m a little torn on this, though, as it has operated for so long as this mysterious energy that gave the speedsters their power. Do we need it to be dissected and explained?
Seeing all the different Flashes in the House of Heroes is pretty awesome. Artist Christian Duce fills this place with variety. I don’t recognize most of the speedsters, however there are a few notable ones, such as the Flash from Kingdom Come and Bizarro Flash. One of them drops some knowledge on Barry that speaks more about his personal journey than the force barrier.

This is just part of the book and while it makes for a great show, it’s only a handful of pages. The bulk of The Flash #52 deals with the Trickster as he’s interviewed by the Central City Police Department. The cops are building a case against Iron Heights Warden Wolfe and the Trickster is a star witness. Their plans are ruined when a pair of winged warriors calling themselves the Para-Angels swoop in to abduct him.
This leads to an incredible aerial battle as the Flash runs in to save the day. You might ask yourself how can he get up there if he can’t fly. Barry is a seasoned pro at this kind of stuff so he can maneuver through the air by running up the side of a building and creating tornadoes with his arms. Duce packs these pages with action as Barry flies through the air with lightning following closely behind.

There’s a bit of comedy in this sequence as the Trickster is thrown around like a rag doll. Letterer Steve Wands adds to this with a great, exaggerated scream from the Rogue that takes up nearly an entire panel.
Commander Cold also makes an appearance, which isn’t a surprise as he’s on the cover of the book. He’s stranded in this time so he’s decided to help out, although Barry doesn’t agree with his methods. This presents an interesting dynamic, not unlike Barry’s relationship with Godspeed earlier in this run. I’m most curious how Commander Cold will interact with Captain Cold because you know that meeting will happen sooner or later.

I love the contrast between the bright yellow of the Flash’s lightning and Cold’s cool blue ice blasts. Colorist Luis Guerrero creates this great dynamic where one represents movement and life and the other represents stillness and death.
There’s also a slight horror feel towards the end of the book as the Trickster’s fate is revealed. Guerrero makes it look like Hell itself is coming up to claim the guy with some fiery colors.

While I’m not crazy about the different forces, writer Joshua Williamson delivers more than enough story to grab onto in The Flash #52. It will be interesting to see who claims these forces and who is ultimately pulling the strings to connect them. Is Zoom still involved? Or is another foe making moves behind the scenes? Also, where’s Bart Allen? He popped up at the end of the Flash War and I want to see my favorite speedster tear some stuff up.
The Flash #52 from DC Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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