Poor Barry Allen can’t catch a break lately. He finally had a glimmer of hope with the return of Meena, a scientist hit by the Speed Force storm at the beginning of the series. He thought she was dead and now she’s back and maybe they could rekindle their romance. Unfortunately, she’s really working for Black Hole, a shadowy organization up to no good. She pulls a fast one on him (no pun intended) and pulls the Negative Speed Force out of Barry, taking it for herself.
This move immediately bumps Meena up the Rogue food chain as the Negative Flash. With the death of the Reverse-Flash and Godspeed in prison, we needed a bad speedster to serve as a foil for Barry. This comes with the additional personal connection. Sure, Eobard Thawne killed Barry’s mom, but he never wanted to kiss the guy. There’s a betrayal here that hits right to the bone.
The Negative Flash design is creepy and awesome. Artist Pop Mhan makes her look twisted and powerful, as if the dueling Speed Forces in her body are pulling her this way and that. Her costume is better suited to these dark powers than Barry’s was. The purple and black energy is a nice complement to her dark outfit. Colorist Ivan Plascencia also gives the added touch of fading Meena’s skin, giving it a corpse-like appearance, like this energy is sucking the life out of her.
With the Negative Speed Force removed, Barry is himself again. He’s in control of his powers, sending yellow lightning swirling around as he runs. Although this should be a moment of joy, there is no smile on Barry’s face. He’s engulfed in this personal drama that’s eating him up. Meena thinks he failed her, pointing out that he didn’t find or avenge her. When Jason Todd returned, he had a similar argument against Batman. It’s a little petty, but it adds fuel to the fire.
With Barry back in action and Wally by his side, we see a return to the signature speedster fighting style. Mhan has a brilliant double page spread of the two of them in action, lightning flying around them as they work together to take out the Black Hole soldiers. It’s refreshing to see the Flash back to his true form after the dark and chaotic whirlwind he’s been in recent issues.
With Meena back, we learn who created the Speed Force storm seen way back in the very first issue of the series. It’s a pretty cool moment, although it fell a little flat for me because it’s not someone I’m all that familiar with. The scene looks awesome and Mhan delivered some great work. My reaction to the plot point was just kind of…”OK…and you are?”
The Flash #35 represents the first step in rebuilding Barry Allen’s life. Writer Joshua Williamson has spent dozens of issues tearing it apart. Now, with the help of co-writer Michael Moreci, he’s piecing it back together. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any challenges or tragedies. We see by the end of the issue that violence and bloodshed are a near constant in the Flash’s life.