Spoiler Warning: The following review contains Flash spoilers.
Spoiler Free Summary: Slow it down Flash, you don’t have to rush storytelling.
Upon your first glimpse at Carmine Di Giandomenico‘s cover, you know there will be some serious stuff waiting to happen- the cover bodes sinister ill will with a dominating dark face with glowing green teeth, The Flash crying out. But the inside was an unfortunate rush.
A Speed Force lightening storm has hit Central City- bringing The Flash a new partner and a ton of new speedsters to the city. As the Flash trains detective and new speedster August Heart to help protect the people of Central City from the Black Hole, a threat with a deadly agenda for both the Fastest Men Alive and reporter Iris West, they also try to discover the cause and full range of consequences of the storm. It turns out not all speedsters want to use their powers for good. Barry and August have three new speedsters who used their powers for crime locked in Iron Heights as they figure out what to do with them, and come across a malicious speedster named Godspeed who was able to phase through the security and murder them. Unknown to The Flash, at the same time, S.T.A.R. Labs has built a training facility for those with newly acquired gifts. Would they have been safer there? Should we trust S.T.A.R. labs? Who can you trust? What effect is all this shared Speed Force having on everyone? Who is this speedster and who is Black Hole? What is going on? [And yes, they tried to answer all of these questions in 20 pages.] So stick with me as I go through it, which may seem as long as a shopping list for Thanksgiving Dinner for 60 people, all with different diets.
The Flash #4- the 4th installment of the “Lightening Strikes Twice” story-line- opens with The Flash overseeing the training of speedsters who have responded to the ad for S.T.A.R. Labs’ Speed Force Training Center in Central City.
For me, there’s a jarring difference in Neil Googe
‘s artwork compared to Carmine Di Giandomenico’s and Karl Kerschl
‘s. While never Superman or Batman beefy (all that muscle would create so much drag!), in #1-#3, The Flash still had a figure of authority. In #4, as he assumes his position and title of Barry Allen, the teacher, he looks cartoonish (yes, it’s a comic book, but it doesn’t have to translate to cartoonish). It’s a disconcerting duality.
Rubber man appearances aside, it looks like Barry is doing well with his teacher role at the Training Center. But he’s not just training them, he’s investigating them- this new murderous speedster could be anyone, given that he was in full costume. It was hard for me to remember that this training facility isn’t just training “gifted youngsters”, even though Googe does a great job at showing all ages in the facility [call it X-Men Conditioning].
Not only are they training youngsters, but they’re also learning more about the consequences of all this Speed Force. Dr. Meena Dhawan, head of the center, has discovered that while they all are connected by it, none of them have bonded with the cells like Barry has (KNEW something was up with why he had lightening and the rest didn’t. Nice touch, art team.) More importantly, she has also discovered that the speed force wants to recombine somehow into one being when together. Survival of the fittest- he who shows dominance with speed force gets more speed force, at the cost of others. We have now [possibly] discovered Godspeed’s motive.
We also discover there is a severe lack of security in this comic (here and more below). Iris West waltzes into the STAR Labs facility with MORE news: Dr. Joseph Carter is a person of interest as a STAR Labs employee fired because he was collecting samples of and testing on Speed Force, trying to find a way to weaponize it (we saw this “weapon” in action in #2) With the words “sample”, Meena perks up, as that’s her specialty from #3, and she can find Black Hole because she can feel speed force and track them if they have a sample (pretty useful, right?) We have lots of dots connected and it’s only 7 pages in.
Though there is time to bring out the characteristics of the Flash that annoy and endear him to me, what makes him The Flash, and I thank writer Joshua Williamson for bringing it out: the frustration at not being perfect, the guilt felt and not being able to be everywhere and do everything, of the “what if’s”. They also show his idealism and safety of others first as Flash, August, and Meena just run into Black Hole’s base after getting Iris’ news. (BUT SERIOUSLY…. SECURITY? NO? You’re just there for decoration?)
There are a lot of gross miscalculations as Carver plays with toys he doesn’t fully understand and the team battle him remembering what we learned at the beginning of the comic, that when speed force is used around each other, someone can take it away from the other.
I like how the whispering/underlying points are in a lighter grey to accent it. In light grey, Flash whispers to himself (and the readers) “This seems too easy.” Yes. That is also what I was thinking when reading this whole thing- is that all of this worked out waaay too easily. It wasn’t STAR Labs tech Carter had, it was something never seen before. He couldn’t use it properly, as he didn’t create it and didn’t’ seem like he understood it. So where and how did Carver get it?
And we didn’t forget about Wally.
Or life outside of being The Flash.
And I didn’t quite tell you what the cover was, did I?
Find out in Flash #4, on sale Aug 10 2016!
On Sale Date: Aug 10 2016