The Mind Is A Battlefield In Flash #56

by Tony Thornley

Sometimes fans forget that Barry Allen is a thinking man’s hero. Often the Flash needs to outrun his problems or use his speed in unique ways. But The Flash #56 shows how much Barry needs to stay one step ahead of his foes in other ways.

The next chapter of the story of the Sage Force, written by Joshua Williamson, line art by Scott Kolins, color art by Luis Guerrero and letters by Steve Wands, dives deep into not only the power of the mind, but the psychology of Heat Wave. This issue also proves one of Barry’s strengths. It’s the most understated part of the story.
The Flash and Detective Burns appear to be the only survivors of Iron Heights, after an empowered Heat Wave has slaughtered everyone. The duo quickly realize they are trapped in Mick Rory’s mind. This leads to a search for Mick’s “lightning rod”, the thing that can center him best.

Williamson’s script starts as a standard superhero action story. It begins to peel back it’s layers quickly, while keeping the trappings of a superhero story. It turns into a deep dive into Heat Wave, a Rogue who has been pushed back out of the spotlight in the comics.
This is where the story shines though, because it dives into one of Barry’s greatest strengths as a character. He doesn’t see the Rogues as just his foes, but also as people. It turns into a display of compassion as Barry tries to help his enemy, and push him through.

Kolins straightforward style is a great entry into the horrific situation the characters find themselves in. He’s able to create more and more chaos though, devolving the situation rapidly. His take on fire and its aftereffects in particular is a highlight.
Kolins is able to show the emotions in the story so well. He is able to keep Barry light, and then shift into his empathetic side. He also is able to play with the evolution Commander Cold, the future policeman who is shifting from simply a cop into something more superheroic.
Guerrero’s colors are bright but doesn’t take away from the story. He’s able to keep up with the tone, but doesn’t add an over level of grit. It keeps the story truly feeling like a Flash story, and not a darker story that doesn’t fit the character.

This is a great chapter diving deep into a long-time character that I don’t think has gotten the spotlight he deserves.
The Flash #56 is available now from DC Comics.

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