The Reverse-Flash prepares to systematically dismantle Barry Allen by showing him the horrible future he’ll create by continuing down his current path. As the Flash, Barry can doom everyone he loves and the city he calls home. Can he trust what Eobard Thawne is showing him? The villain uses time travel as a play thing so he could be manipulating events, but can Barry take that risk?
The Flash #26 from DC Comics opens with a chilling look into the near future with an older Barry facing the destruction of Central City at the hands of his own children, the Tornado Twins. They’re lashing out at him–and by extension, the city–because he always put his hero status first. His family was a distant second. You’d think that the fastest man alive would be able to make time to see his kids’ baseball games or dance recitals, but that’s apparently not in the cards for Barry.
Artist Howard Porter delivers the mayhem in these opening pages. Central City is being pulled into a massive tornado. The buildings are curving towards the center, eventually turning into a mountain of rubble and destruction. I love the design for older Barry. He’s got a tinge of Jay Garrick in him but that could just be because he’s got some grey hair. He still has that shocking red mane, but he’s sporting some grey at his temples and a big old man beard. His costume is more streamlined with just a shirt, pants, and boots with no mask.
This plays in with the present day situation as Reverse-Flash has revealed the Flash’s secret identity to Iris. This has been something that Barry has been thinking about for a bit, but Thawne forced his hand. I do wonder if we’re seeing the decline of the secret identity in modern day comics. Sure, his identity is still secret from the general public, but I think it creates for better and more compelling stories when everyone in the inner circle knows what’s going on. Just look at the CW shows, Arrow and Flash. Everyone, including most of the villains, know that Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow and/or Barry Allen is the Flash. You don’t have to worry about making up lame excuses for being late or having to leave suddenly. Remember Smallville? Ugh.
Anyway, Iris feels betrayed and lied to, and for good reason. She’s grown closer to Barry over the past few issues and just when she thought she could trust him, she finds out that he’s been keeping this major secret from her the whole time. She even cuts him off when he starts speaking, telling him that she knows he’ll think he was doing this to keep her safe. I don’t buy that. How does that help her? Just because she knows Barry is the Flash doesn’t mean that everyone else would, nor would it mean that everyone would know she’s the Flash’s girlfriend.
Writer Joshua Williamson knows how to write bad guys that you love to hate and hate to love. That is definitely the case with the Reverse-Flash. He is absolutely diabolical here as he presents his case for Barry to walk away from everyone like a lawyer in the court room. He is relaxed and confident, like he’s thought this through and knows every possible way it can go. This is what a true arch-enemy looks like. He’s taking the Flash apart not with his fists, but his words and logic. He presents a situation that forces Barry to make the only conclusion he can if he wants to save everyone he cares about. Plus, since he is the villain, after all, Thawne still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
I also want to point out how awesome both covers are for this issue. Carmine Di Giandomenico’s has this wickedly gruesome shot of Reverse-Flash bursting through the Flash’s body from the inside. It’s so creepy. Porter’s cover has this look of defeat with Barry sitting atop a fallen Flash statue. Both work well with the issue and are much more than just a cool image to catch a reader’s attention.
When you think of villains in the DC Universe, the Joker and perhaps Lex Luthor are the first to come to mind. The Flash #26 shows why the Reverse-Flash should be up there as well. This is a well-calculated takedown of an enemy that pushes the hero to make a decision that will change his life–and the lives of everyone around him–forever.