THE FLASH #69
THE FLASH #69 BY JOSHUA WILLIAMSON AND SCOTT KOLINS
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
THE FLASH #69 finishes the Trickster arc in the most satisfying way possible. It’s supremely well written by Joshua Williamson. His characterization, especially, is in peak form. Scott Kolins delivers another magnificent-looking issue.
99 %
Superb Finale to a Superb Arc

THE FLASH #69 presents the finale to the Trickster arc. In this issue, The Flash has to deal with a major change before trying to stop the Trickster from pulling off the biggest heist in Central City history. We learn more about James Jesse’s intentions this issue. Plus, there’s a major breakthrough regarding Barry’s ongoing pessimism after losing Wally.

Joshua Williamson delivers another fantastic issue of this series. His characterization of both Barry and James is top notch. The arc’s finale ends up being incredibly satisfying. It cements this arc as possibly my favorite of Williamson’s entire run. This issue, too, has an old school feel to it, with a specific, unambiguously bad threat that Barry has to face. It’s a nice respite before we get back to the ongoing saga of the new Forces. Scott Kolins draws another superb issue.

Stop Tricking Yourself in THE FLASH #69

Previously, James Jesse, the original Trickster, used the Sage Force and Commander Cold’s future technology to control Central City’s minds. The city descends to chaos and, after Trickster knocks him out, The Flash wakes up to find his legs cut off at the knee. In THE FLASH #69, Jesse reveals his ultimate plan. He sends all of the criminals he released from Iron Heights to pull off a gigantic heist, stealing money and priceless objects from the city. They all plan to divvy up the loot and give a sizable cut to Trickster, lest they face his wrath.

Meanwhile, Barry freaks out about his legs while the brainwashed Commander Cold speaks to him. Cold accidentally breaks free from the mind control after he gets angry thinking about his friends from the future getting hurt. He tells Barry to calm down and think about something that would ground him, since they believe the missing legs are just a Sage Force illusion. Barry thinks about how he felt after Wally’s death. He’d been wallowing in pessimism. He realizes that admitting that he has that problem makes him more content, thus shattering the illusion. On the roof of Iron Heights, James gloats about his accomplishments to the two people he wanted to impress more than anyone: his parents. He uses the Sage Force to make them say they love him and are proud.

THE FLASH #69
THE FLASH #69 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

He realizes he’s tricking himself and throws them off the roof. Barry saves them, but James gives him an ultimatum. Either save the city or stop the criminals from making off with their loot.

What will Barry choose? Can he do both in time? Find out in THE FLASH #69!

A Major Breakthrough in THE FLASH #69

Joshua Williamson makes two major revelations this issue. The first regards The Trickster. Throughout this arc, he’s been talking about how he wants to gain back Central City’s respect. He’s been forgotten and became the butt of jokes. Clearly, this stems from the neglectful abuse his parents doled out to him regularly as a child. They were never proud of him, so he sought to gain adoration from other avenues. Thus, he became The Trickster, hoping to become a criminal legend like his namesake, Jesse James. In THE FLASH #69, we learn that, perhaps, James was doing all this not to gain everyone’s admiration. No, he just wanted the respect of two people: his parents. As his master plan finally hits its crescendo, he takes the mind-controlled couple and forces them to give him respect. When he realizes it’s a sham, he freaks out.

It makes Trickster into a tragic character. I love how Williamson actually makes me pity Trickster, rather than just hate him. That’s fantastic characterization. We’ll see where Williamson takes him in the future.

The Second Revelation

Williamson’s other revelation deals with the titular character. In THE FLASH #69, Barry finally admits to himself, and to Cold, that he’s been overly pessimistic, stemming from the depression he felt after Wally’s death. He even says that he hasn’t been angry or afraid. He’s just had a fatalist attitude after losing the biggest ray of hope in his life. It’s only one small scene, but it hints at a major change in the future of the book. Now that he’s admitted his problem, he can start taking the appropriate steps to try and combat it. It’s not a bad way of conveying depression.

While Williamson doesn’t outright say that Barry was depressed, pessimism is a major symptom of grief and depression stemming from the loss of a loved one. I hope Williamson touches on this in future issues, making Barry’s story into an empowering tale for anyone who has been afflicted by, or still is in the throes of, depression. So far, he’s on the right track.

Some Body Horror Art

Scott Kolins finishes up his art duties for this arc with yet another superb issue. Kolins fills THE FLASH #69 with beautiful art moments, like when Barry makes his breakthrough, and when he returns to save James’ parents. However, the most striking scene of the book has to be when Barry is panicking about his legs, or lack thereof. He sits slumped over, his hands rapidly searching for legs that aren’t there. His eyes bulge and his jaw sits agape, in utter shock at his situation. It’s a chilling page. Williamson perfectly captures Barry’s shell-shock with his art. I believe that he’s the best Flash artist in years, and this page just works to support that belief.

THE FLASH #69
THE FLASH #69 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: THE FLASH #69

THE FLASH #69 is a fabulous issue from start to finish. It ends the arc in the best way possible. I can’t wait to find out what’s next.

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