THE FLASH #54 is a fun little book. It doesn’t take itself too seriously most of the time, but when it does get serious, it’s well earned. I totally recommend it to fans of the TV show and the character in general.
94 %
A Strong Finish to this Arc

THE FLASH #54 improves on almost every criticism I had with the prior issue. It’s almost eerie how much this issue seemed to respond to my last review. Regardless, I’m a big fan of THE FLASH #54. In it, the Strength Force-enhanced Flash and Trickster duke it out in Iron Heights. This issue’s both fun and dramatic.

It’s got moments of levity, moments of grief and a bunch of moments which reveal new secrets about multiple characters. Joshua Williamson outdoes himself with this issue. Artist Christian Duce, along with colorist Luis Guerrero, even manage to make the Strength Force Trickster look somewhat menacing, but I can’t help finding that The Flash still looks a little ridiculous. Luckily, Williamson seems to understand that and adds in some references to the fact that he looks downright bizarre.

A Battle of Brawn in THE FLASH #54

Last issue, The Flash and Commander Cold fought the Strength Force-enhanced Trickster and brought him to Iron Heights. A rift opened up in the ground at the prison and gave The Flash access to the Strength Force as well, leaving him with a gigantic, muscular body with a normal-sized head. THE FLASH #54 opens with Cold trying to subdue Barry. Trickster then pummels Barry and they start brawling.

The Flash temporarily subdues Trickster and Cold with a shockwave. He then realizes that you can reduce your muscle mass, and, as a result, your connection to the Strength Force, by playing with the gravitational pull of the atmosphere around you. He does this and gets a bit smaller. Barry then gets knocked into the ward where Trickster’s fellow Rogues reside. Barry creates a gigantic shockwave which reduces both his and Trickster’s sizes.

THE FLASH #54 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Inadvertently, he also caused the ceiling to collapse. Trickster uses his waning strength to hold it up so Flash can save his Rogue buddies. But will Trickster make it out too? Read THE FLASH #54 to find out!

Embracing the Ridiculousness in THE FLASH #54

Not far into the beginning of THE FLASH #54, Barry’s inner monologue references other times when his body changed and, also, looked downright ridiculous. This includes when he got a gigantic brain and when he turned into a living puppet. This brought a big smile to my face. One of my biggest criticisms with the prior issue was that no attention was being called to how outlandish the Strength Force-enhanced characters looked.

In my opinion, it’s hard to take a comic seriously when they don’t at least mention when something ridiculous happens. Williamson easily rectifies this by having Barry bring that up. It’s all I needed to take this a bit more seriously. In this issue, Williamson combines levity with seriousness quite well. The direness of Flash’s and Trickster’s situations are accurately portrayed while still adding in some fun humor along the way.

Williamson even adds in a relatively somber scene near the end of the issue, with the revelation that Iris still remembers her marriage to Barry in the post-Crisis universe, but she neglects to tell Barry. Barry senses that Iris is hiding something and you can feel the strain in their relationship. It’s a tragic step that I hope leads to something more joyful down the road. It was the perfect time to drop any levity and focus on Barry and Iris’s slowly crumbling relationship.

On Strength Force Art in THE FLASH #54

Duce and Guerrero manage to make The Trickster look simultaneously bizarre and menacing, at different moments. The Trickster even looks a bit less ridiculous than last issue. Maybe it’s lessened because Barry looks even more strange, but even so, there are pages when Trickster looks downright scary. When he confronts Warden Wolfe, the man who tried to kill him multiple times, Guerrero’s shadow work makes Trickster look like a true threat and not some huge-muscled freak.

However, The Flash still looks way too over-the-top in this issue, but since Williamson seems to reference how he looks bizarre, it actually fits. When you look at the Strength Force Flash, it’s no more ridiculous than those Silver Age transformations referenced above. Thanks to Duce and Guerrero, I’ve actually warmed to this design, and it looks even a bit interesting, not just strange.

THE FLASH #54 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: THE FLASH #54

THE FLASH #54 is a vast improvement over the prior issue. It fixes pretty much every problem I had. I had a fun time reading it, and it made me excited for the next story arc.

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