The most impressive thing about what Joshua Williamson and his creative collaborators have pulled off in The Flash is making one continuous four year run feel like one long story. We’re about to be 82 issues plus several annuals in, and the last few issues have been notable in how they’re pulling together threads from far back in the run to add a sense of culmination to the story. To be able to do that is an impressive feat; to be able to do that around a massive, linewide crossover like Year of the Villain is a great accomplishment.
This upcoming issue is the start of a new arc, and as you can see from the preview, it jumps forward a bit from where the last one left off. The last one seemingly tied off a bunch of loose ends dating back to Flash War and the birth of the fundamental forces of the universe, and at the end had the Rogues taking Luthor’s villain deal, overclocking their powers and putting them in a place where they can defeat Barry for good. Here…well, looks like they got him.
There’s a very Dark Knight Returnsfeel to these pages. I’m a huge fan of cold imagery – personally speaking, it’s one of those things that when done well in fiction, I can physically feel it. Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, and Arif Prianto do a great job of showing us a Central City dominated by Captain Cold’s powers. But underneath all the snow and my ice cold fingers, this feels like a really grim future for the Flashes, even though it’s not much of a time leap. The military convoy parked outside a fortress is never a great sign even when it’s the good guys parking it, but the bleakest implication is the Central City Police Department flipping to join Cold’s army. One of the things Williamson has done well is build Barry’s police department life out more fully, and to have them flipping helps convey the gravity of the situation. Of course, Williamson has done just as well adding to the superhero side of Barry’s world, but you’ll have to check out the rest of the issue to find out what’s going on with them.
The Flash and Batman are the two books that have been on my pull lists the longest (there was a slight break from The Flashright before Rebirth, but that aside, I’ve been getting these two series on release day since the New 52 relaunch), and it’s times like this where that continuity feels the most valuable.
Here’s what DC has to say about the issue.
THE FLASH #82 written by JOSHUA WILLIAMSON art by RAFA SANDOVAL acetate cover by GUILLEM MARCH variant cover by KAMOME SHIRAHAMA “Rogues Reign” part one! The speed force is dead, doom has gripped the earth, and the FLASH lives in a nightmare! Powered-up by Lex Luthor’s offer, Captain Cold led his team of Rogues to ultimate victory over Central City. Through the might of Mirror Master’s amplified abilities, the rogues have re-shaped reality itself into their own kingdoms of cruelty – Heat Wave’s volcanic territory, Weather Wizard’s floating armory of the elements, and at the center of it all, the icy castle of Captain Cold. But with the villains stealing the show, why is the greatest threat to their reign one of their own?
And here are the preview pages. Check it out!