THE FLASH #56 BY JOSHUA WILLIAMSON AND SCOTT KOLINS
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
THE FLASH #56 proves to be one of my favorite Flash issues of the year. It includes fun action, scary horror, and beautiful character moments. Joshua Williamson, once again, outdoes himself this issue. Scott Kolins’s art looks like something out of a nightmare, and I love every panel because of it.
97 %
Burning Fun

Joshua Williamson writes some grade-A material in THE FLASH #56. So far, I’m loving this new story arc about Heat Wave and the Sage Force. It’s a perfect Flash story for the Halloween season, since it deals with some psychological scares, along with physical ones too. THE FLASH #56 isn’t just a scary book, though. Williamson also includes some great character moments between Barry and Detective Burns, which will lead into the next story arc. Not to mention Scott Kolins’ (as usual) fabulous artwork, this time drawing some legitimately scary designs, like flaming demon skeletons and a gigantic, menacing version of Heat Wave. Overall, THE FLASH #56 reminds me why it’s one of my favorite current DC titles.

Chaos at Iron Heights in THE FLASH #56

In the previous issue, Barry and Detectivetraveledavelled to Iron Heights to investigate a mysterious spontaneous combustion in Heat Wave’s cell. Suddenly, Barry and Burns found themselves caught in a conflagration and saw everyone else in Iron Heights charred to a crisp. In THE FLASH #56, we learn that this explosion never really happened. The Sage Force, one of the new Forces unleashed by Zoom, connected Flash and Burns to Heat Wave’s mind. In reality, a few burning skeletons manifest near Heat Wave’s body, and Commander Cold arrives to destroy them. Back in Mick’s mind, Flash and Burns discuss the former’s decision not to go on a Speed Force walkabout to learn about the new powers at play. She convinces him to go along with the idea.

THE FLASH #56
THE FLASH #56 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Then, they discover why Heat Wave brought Burns into his mind. While interviewing him a few weeks back, she connected with him by sharing that her parents also died in a fire. That leads the duo to investigate Heat Wave’s former childhood home (still inside of his mind), where they find his mind-self. What happens next? You’ll have to pick up THE FLASH #56 to find out!

Wonderful Character Development in THE FLASH #56

While I truly enjoyed the plot in this issue, much like the previous one, I loved the character moments even more in THE FLASH #56. Finally, Williamson gives Barry the push he needed to agree to go on the Speed Force walkabout. In doing so, he will learn more about the new Forces. He first got the idea when he called a meeting with all the multiversal Flashes a few issues back. It’s been pretty frustrating seeing Barry stubbornly reject any advice from his girlfriend on the matter. It’s interesting that he finally accepts the advice of someone not as close to him or as trusting as Iris. Hopefully, Williamson touches upon that in future issues.

Anyway, that moment between Flash and Burns also felt special because of their discussion about her background. Unbeknownst to Burns, her friend Barry Allen is, of course, the Flash. Barry never really took the time to get to know her, and only sees her as a sort-of friend who sometimes acts a little too tough to her workmates. Little did he know that she not only had such a tragic backstory, but that she truly is devoted to both seeking justice and to helping rehabilitate criminals. She explains that the Flash inspired her to be more compassionate to criminals. It showed another side of Burns that Barry never even thought to ask about. It clearly gets to him too, when he says that he never knew about her past. I hope Williamson continues this relationship, and makes her into a closer friend for Barry.

Scott Kolins’s Spooky Art in THE FLASH #56

As stated above, this story arc and THE FLASH #56 in particular, work real well as a Halloween story. Kolins’s artwork is one of the main reasons why. He has two fantastic designs in this issue. The first is the dreamscape Heat Wave. He’s a gigantic, burning figure, covered in super-hot blue flames. Through the fire, you can still make out his scarred, burnt face. While not the scariest sight, the idea that he’s made up of pure flame adds the implication that even getting near him would burn someone to a crisp. Plus, having him show up in a beyond burned out Iron Heights surrounded by mangled, charred skeletons is like something purely out of a horror film.

THE FLASH #56
THE FLASH #56 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Kolins also draws another frightening design. In the real world, the Sage Force manifests abnormally large, burning demonic skeletons. They actually look truly frightening. They’re taller than a normal person, covered in sharp points, and have tiny, beady eyes. They’re pulled straight from a nightmare, it seems. Kolins does a fantastic job creating these seriously frightening designs.

Final Thoughts: THE FLASH #56

THE FLASH #56 is yet another stupendous issue of the series. It’s one of my favorites since the FLASH WAR arc, even. If you’re a Flash fan, don’t miss this issue!

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