THE FLASH #65 focuses not on the titular character, but on an oft-overlooked one -- the original Trickster. Joshua Williamson fills the issue with moments that make you both pity and scorn the villain. Scott Kolins fills the issue with incredibly detailed art.
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A Delightful Diversion

THE FLASH #66 shifts focus from the titular character to one of his many rogues, the Trickster. For over a decade, the main Trickster in various Flash books has been Axel Walker, but this issue sees the return of the original Trickster, James Jesse. We learn why he’s been out of the spotlight for years, as well as his unfortunate origin. Joshua Williamson delivers an engaging story about a vain, fame-obsessed villain who’ll go to uncomfortable lengths to be liked. We delve into Jesse’s psyche this issue since he narrates the entire book. Williamson’s characterization of Jesse shows how damaged and deranged Jesse truly is. Scott Kolins is back once again, and his greatly-detailed art brings out the emotions in the young Jesse.

The Rise of James Jesse in THE FLASH #66

In a prior story arc, the Axel Walker version of Trickster both gained and lost Strength Force powers. After losing them, he snuck away from the devastated Iron Heights, only to come face to face with his long-forgotten predecessor, James Jesse. The original Trickster didn’t seem all too impressed with his successor. THE FLASH #66 opens with Jesse in a dilapidated theater hideout, where he’s plotting a gigantic trick that he’ll play on Flash and the Rogues. He pledges that this trick will ensure that no one forgets him ever again. Then, he starts thinking about his childhood. Jesse lived in a circus with deadbeat parents who constantly mocked and berated Jesse. They were professional con artists who doubled as tightrope walkers. After the death of 2/3 of the Flying Graysons, they decided to capitalize on the tragedy.

THE FLASH #66 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

They put Jesse on the tightrope, even though he never walked one in his life. In fact, he was deathly afraid of heights. Jesse flash-forwards in his life to his time as the Trickster. He pulled elaborate grifts and tricks and eventually worked his way up to the Rogues. Eventually, he was kicked out for, as he says, “creative differences.” After, he went straight for a bit, joining the FBI. That bored him, though, so he went back to crime. However, he found it very difficult to pull off his heists, because everyone recognized him and knew not to fall for his tricks. The last time he was beaten by Flash, he was sent to Iron Heights, where the new warden, Wolfe, locked him in solitary confinement until the end of his days.

Will Jesse walk the tightrope? How did he escape Iron Heights? Read THE FLASH #66 to find out!

Many Tricks and Even More Treats in THE FLASH #66

Joshua Williamson delivers a wonderful issue with THE FLASH #66. He has a knack for writing Rogues. I can tell that he has a deep affection for these characters, which I admire because I share that love. They’re my favorite comic book villains because of their somewhat loose moral code. That’s what makes this issue so interesting because Jesse doesn’t seem to have that moral code. Williamson shows why he’s so self-centered and vapid. It’s rooted in tragedy, which makes you actually feel sympathy for Jesse. That’s the hallmark of a great villain. They shouldn’t be so incredibly detestable that you feel nothing but hate towards them.

The Trickster, at heart, is just a kid who’s begging for attention from his abusive, neglectful parents. He’s a brilliant man who created a way to defy gravity with just a pair of shoes, but his horrible childhood led him to use his brilliance for egotistical means. Williamson, I thought, really fleshed out his character this issue. The broad strokes existed, like with the tightrope walking and the fear of heights, but Williamson fills in the details. However, he also knows not to be too sympathetic. During his narration, Jesse keeps bragging about himself and his prowess. He comes across as annoying, with his need to be a known entity to the public. Williamson wonderfully shows why he’s still a horrible person, despite his tragic backstory, mocking Axel Walker for “stealing” his shtick, and committing crimes just for fun, really. It’s top-notch characterization work from Williamson.

Ultra-Detailed Art

Scott Kolins, as always, uses his detailed art to paint an incredibly vivid picture of what the dialogue implies. This is especially true in all the scenes with the young Jesse and his parents. His parents look at him with scorn and disgust. Their eyes glare at him menacingly as he just sits around reading a book. When they first tell him to walk the tightrope, Kolins draws Jesse with a doe-eyed look of abject fear. His parents repay that with more anger, with both of them looking downright pissed. His father wildly gesticulates in annoyed anger. It shows just how scary it would be living with these two abusive, money-obsessed maniacs.

THE FLASH #66 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: THE FLASH #66

THE FLASH #66 is a delightful issue that focuses on an, as of late, lesser-thought-about character. It brings the Trickster back into the spotlight, thanks to excellent characterization from Williamson.

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