After a brief interlude into Dark Nights: Metal, The Flash returns to its regularly scheduled programming. Meena, one of the people hit by the Speed Force storm back in The Flash: Rebirth, has returned. She was thought dead, but she’s really been working for the shadowy organization known as Black Hole. After a brief explanation for her resurrection, she jumps into action with a plan to cure Barry of the Negative Speed Force that’s been tearing him apart and causing all kinds of damage to people and property.
This comes at a particularly vulnerable time for Barry. He’s at the end of his rope. Iris left him. He’s been re-assigned to work a crappy job at Iron Heights. His powers have been on the fritz. Wally is his only connection to his previous life. He’s drowning and Meena represents a life preserver, especially since they were romantically involved.
You can see this instant trust in Pop Mhan’s artwork. For the first time in awhile, Barry looks like his old self. He can relax and let his guard down. Meena knows his secret identity (which is a retroactive slap in the face to Iris as she only just found out) so he can relax a little and just be himself. There are some beautiful panels where the two of them are looking out into the sunset. Their world is full of possibilities and Barry can finally see the light at the end of this dark and dreary tunnel. This makes the fact that Meena’s playing hurt all the more.
This is the polar opposite of how he looks when he starts running. The Negative Speed Force transforms the Flash into darkness personified. His face turns mean and his hands almost look like claws. Colorist Ivan Plascencia casts these scenes in a different manner, as if this power is sucking the light from the pages. Black energy swirls around Barry in unnatural and threatening ways instead of the positive propelling force of the Speed Force coming out of Wally.
I’m glad to see Meena return. She was too good of a character to throw away so quickly. She was a confidant for Barry, someone he could relate to as a hero, who is going through the same stuff that he is. On paper, it’s a great match, so I’m very curious to learn what sent her down this path. Her suit is black with small slivers of white. It looks very sleek and crazy fast.
With the Reverse-Flash out of the picture, Meena presents the next best thing. She has already shaken Barry by betraying his trust and working with Black Hole. What she does next can elevate her to super villain status and make her a very formidable foe for the Scarlet Speedster. I’m very interested to see what writers Joshua Williamson and Michael Moreci have in store.
The Flash #34 brings one of my favorite Rebirth-era characters back to the fold and makes her a major player in Central City. Barry Allen has been put through the ringer lately and he’s still found the strength to pick his head up and keep running. He’ll have to dig down deep to do that again after Meena knocks him for a loop. We’re about to see what the Flash is made of as he faces one of his most challenging obstacles yet.