THE FLASH ANNUAL #2 totally blew me away. It’s both a beautiful portrait of a man grieving over his newly deceased friend, and an exciting superhero story, all in one. Joshua Williamson outdoes himself with this issue. Scott Kolins and Luis Guerrero craft one of my favorite comic book pages ever. Just superb.
100 %
Somber and Superb

THE FLASH ANNUAL #2 isn’t just the best issue of this series in 2019 — it may be the best issue of THE FLASH since REBIRTH began. In it, Barry Allen begins to deal with his grief over Wally West’s death in HEROES IN CRISIS, but he’s interrupted by Godspeed. His onetime friend and onetime nemesis attacks him and goes after all other speedsters. Meanwhile, Impulse tries to make his way around a world that seems strange and different than the one he’s used to.

Joshua Williamson crafts a beautiful portrait of a hero in absolute grief over the passing of his best friend and partner. It’s a perfect tribute to Wally’s life and what he meant to the Flash Family. It also introduces some seriously interesting new plot threads for future issues. Scott Kolins draws my favorite page of the year so far.

Loss and Remembrance in THE FLASH ANNUAL #2

In prior issues of THE FLASH and HEROES IN CRISIS, Wally West became blinded by grief after remembering his pre-FLASHPOINT family, including his children Jai and Irey. It brought Barry and Wally to blows after Wally tried to go back into the Speed Force to find them. It only led to more grief, as the feeling he had about their being stuck in the Speed Force was actually a trap set by Zoom. They defeated Zoom, but the mental wounds remained, so Wally went to Sanctuary, a place where heroes could get help with mental health issues. There, Wally died at the hands of someone. THE FLASH ANNUAL #2 begins with Barry Allen standing in the fields near Sanctuary, holding Wally’s costume in his hands. He runs off and, in a moment of sheer grief, enters the Speed Force.

THE FLASH ANNUAL #2 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Instead of finding Wally there, as he hoped, he runs into Godspeed, who disappeared after helping the Flash Family fight Gorilla Grodd. Unfortunately, he seems to have strayed from his path of redemption, since he immediately attacks Barry and taunts him. Godspeed goes to Iron Heights, where Kid Flash and Avery visit Meena. They’re the only other speedsters on Earth. Godspeed ambushes them and attacks the trio, using a mysterious gauntlet to take something from them, but no one knows what. Meanwhile, Impulse travels around the world looking for his old friends and family, including Wally. He can’t find anyone, though. What did Godspeed do to the speedsters? And what’s Iris’ reaction to Wally’s death? Read THE FLASH ANNUAL #2 to find out!

A Portrait of Grief in THE FLASH ANNUAL #2

Joshua Williamson does a superb job showing how grief affects Barry. At first, he lashes out, screaming Wally’s name and running randomly. He then bursts into the Speed Force in a desperate attempt to prove Wally’s not dead. Once he meets up with Kid Flash and the rest of the Flash Family, though, he’s not quite as emotional. In fact, he’s pretty calm when telling them about Wally. It’s a very realistic depiction of grief. These are emotions people feel when dealing with a traumatic event. It also gels with Barry’s demeanor in general. He has a knack for bottling up his emotions around other people, as he feels that he needs to remain steadfast and strong in order to instill hope in others. That’s not always a good thing, though, and Williamson notes that through Kid Flash, who chastises Barry for not initially telling the Flash Family about Wally.

The whole subplot with Impulse also really fit in well with the story. Of course, he’d feel lost and alone. The one person who still existed in this new universe who even knew Bart personally was Wally. Behind Max Mercury, Wally was Impulse’s closest confidante. I love how Williamson writes Bart, as well. He’s clearly a fan of the character since he really understands the character’s voice. I hope we see more of Impulse in future issues of THE FLASH, not just in YOUNG JUSTICE.

A Breathtaking Splash Page

After the initial scene of Impulse searching for Wally, Scott Kolins draws an absolutely beautiful image. We’re introduced to Barry in THE FLASH ANNUAL #2 with a downright gorgeous wordless double-page spread of Barry standing in a wide, expansive field, clutching Wally’s costume while the Trinity looks on in the distance. It’s hard to even describe the emotions this page makes me feel. I’ve said this in the past, but this is a page that truly belongs in a museum. Everything about it is perfect. From the rustling Autumn leaves to Barry’s grief-stricken pose, standing completely still while looking down at the costume. That’s especially poignant since Kolins loves to draw Barry in constant motion.

THE FLASH ANNUAL #2 pages 2-3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

I can’t go on about this page without giving a shout out to colorist Luis Guerrero. His simple palette of yellowish-brown, dull greenish-blue, and grey really serve to emphasize the immense sadness of this page. The color work alone is awe-inspiring.

Final Thoughts: THE FLASH ANNUAL #2

If you regularly read my reviews of this series, you know that I haven’t been the biggest fan of recent issues of this series. It would be an understatement to say that THE FLASH ANNUAL #2 makes up for those issues. No, it, alone, makes Williamson’s run into one for the ages. I absolutely adore this issue. It’s downright the best DC book of the year so far, in my opinion.

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