THE FLASH #52 sputters a bit with its plot. However, writer Joshua Williamson takes the characterization into overdrive. He points out some of the most annoying foibles Barry’s had in prior issues, and finally takes steps to remedy them. Plus, whenever he writes Iris, it’s just a treat to read. Christian Duce’s more realistic, less stylized artwork looks downright stunning.
95 %
Change of Pace

In THE FLASH #52, Barry Allen still reels after the shocking events of the FLASH WAR. He wants everything to go back to normal, but that won’t happen any time soon. For one, he can’t find any new leads about the two new Forces that Zoom discovered. On top of that, the Trickster gets kidnapped by two Hawkman knockoffs!

Joshua Williamson starts to bring the series back to its Central City roots. This arc doesn’t seem to be focusing on another world-changing event. Instead, Williamson focuses on Barry’s obsession with needing things to go back to normal. I love where Williamson is taking this since he finally starts to get to the core of why Barry Allen is so frustrating. He can’t accept change or help. Plus, Christian Duce adds a more realistic touch to this issue after the previous arc’s more stylized art.

A Love Letter to Wally West in THE FLASH #51

The Flashes Unite in THE FLASH #52

In the FLASH WAR arc, we learned that there are more Forces in the universe than just the Speed Force. Plus, a time-cop from the future who modeled himself after Captain Cold, but fights for good, named Commander Cold got stuck in the present and is sleeping on Barry’s couch. In THE FLASH #52, Williamson adds a nice nod to the MULTIVERSITY miniseries by having Barry call a meeting of all the multiversal Speed Force heroes.

They’re all there, from KINGDOM COME Flash to Fastback, the speedster cartoon turtle. None of them have heard of any Force other than the Speed Force. Feeling dejected, Barry returns to his universe in order to patrol Central City again. After the fight with Grodd and Zoom’s attack, he hasn’t had time to make a regular patrol in a while.

THE FLASH #52 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

This pays off, since he witnesses the Trickster being kidnapped by the Para-Angels, two antagonists making their debut in this issue. He rescues the Trickster with the help of Commander Cold, whose aid Barry rejects. While the Flash chews out Cold, Trickster escapes and gets pulled into a mysterious burning crater that opens under him. Barry returns home and is chastised by Iris for rejecting Cold’s help.

Barry tells her that he just wants everything to go back to normal and for both Wallys to come back home. She explains that he needs to be more trusting of others and accepting of both help and change. What happened to Trickster, though? Buy THE FLASH #52 and find out!

Williamson & Iris

All-in-all, Williamson writes, for the most part, a truly awesome issue. THE FLASH #52’s main action plot with Trickster is, admittedly, not too interesting to me. He was never one of my favorite Flash villains, and Williamson’s ongoing plot with him taking revenge on the Rogues for wronging him never clicked with me. This issue didn’t really change my mind about it. I just can’t become invested in Trickster’s character, no matter who writes him. However, everything else in the issue is just delightful, especially Barry’s near-breakdown about wanting the status quo to return.

For one, it really speaks to Barry’s character that he needs things to be normal. He can’t seem to ever accept any sort of traumatic changes, dating all the way back to his mother’s death. His extreme obsession with the case eventually won his father freedom. Therefore, he believes that every major problem has an eventual solution. Of course, he’s wrong. Sometimes you just need to embrace change.

Iris is the one who talks sense into Barry, as always. She’s possibly the best character in this entire series. She’s constantly been the voice of reason and has never really been a mere damsel in distress. It’s easy for her to feel like a Lois Lane clone, but Williamson makes her into her own character. She tells Barry that he needs to accept that these changes happened and that he can’t do anything about it at the moment. If there are no answers, he needs to move on. That’s not only good advice for Barry. It’s also great advice in general.

Duce Brings Us Back to Reality in THE FLASH #52

The past two arcs had some really stylized art. I have nothing against the prior arcs’ visuals, but it’s nice to have some change. Duce nails this issue. It just looks gorgeous. My favorite scene of his is when all the Flashes meet up at the beginning of the issue. The double splash page looks especially beautiful. It’s both a nod to CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and an iconic image all on its own. I adore these WHERE’S WALDO-type pages with loads of characters. I especially love the little touches like KINGDOM COME Flash constantly vibrating since he’s basically made up of Speed Force energy. These two pages are such a treat, especially in an issue filled with beautifully realistic artwork.

THE FLASH #52 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: THE FLASH #52

SDCC ’18: THE FLASH Season Five Trailer Breakdown

First off, I want to reiterate that THE FLASH #52 looks stunning. Duce’s art is definitely a change of pace, but it’s very welcome. Williamson’s plot wasn’t my favorite, but he more than made up for it in characterization. Pretty much everything with Barry getting angry or annoyed was top notch. The scenes with Iris were especially brilliant. This is the perfect time for curious fans to pick up THE FLASH; you won’t regret it!

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