Issue #24 of The Flash concludes the battle with the Reverse Flash, which offers up revelations, heavy emotions and a renewed sense of duty from Barry Allen as someone more than a hero.
Issue #25, next month, will mark the end of writer Brian Buccellato and artist Francis Manapul’s run on The Flash but they depart to take up the creative duties on Detective Comics. Unlike many of the heated and often public departures from creators this past year on several DC titles, Buccellato and Manapul felt that the time is right to move on from The Flash, and this issue comfortably settles in to begin the wrap up their run.
In a classic plot line of time travel, through the speed force Barry must stop Daniel West from killing his father in the past but not before he manages to kill three of Barry’s friends in the process. It will take more than physical force to stop the Reverse Flash, and Barry must use his criminal training in psychology to make Daniel realize the consequences of this abuse of the speed force. Rarely do I like to use the term “a great jumping on point” but in this case it holds fairly true. Buccellato uses this issue to reflect on what has come before and tries to make clear Barry’s understanding of how his power works. So for new readers it can serve as introduction as much as it can serve as a wrap-up for long time readers.
While Barry uses this chance to defeat Daniel, it also forces Isis to come face to face with the horror her brother has perpetrated, his lack of remorse and willingness to do it all over again. Ultimately, it’s Barry who has the harshest of revelations to come to terms with, and both Buccellato and Manapul are more than willing to have Barry understand that his dual lives needs balance. To become a better Flash Barry needs to slow down for life’s quieter moments least he becomes the villain.
Francis Manapul’s visual depictions of travel and battles through the time stream are always a thing to behold; the spreads during his final battle with Reverse Flash feels like some of his best work to date on this series. The details seem to go on forever and a reader could spend significant time reviewing every inch.
Finally, even as Flash grows in his understanding of the how’s and why’s of the speed force, Buccellato still leaves a bit of mystery. Part of Barry’s growth is his willingness to accept he may never be able to grasp the true magnitude of his power source because in the end it’s more about responsibility and constantly moving forward. This issue is both moving and inspiring. Buccellato and Manapul are one step closer to leaving The Flash much better off than when they found him.