Murder In Iron Heights! – The Flash #36 Review

by James Ferguson

Barry Allen rushes to Iron Heights fearing his friend and colleague Kristen has been murdered. That was what we were led to believe in the last issue, but it proves to be a red herring. The real victim is one of the Rogues, albeit one that no one really cares about. Now Barry has to investigate as both a CSI and the Flash without revealing his secret identity.  That’s easier said than done when Director Singh is holding him back. To make matters worse, August Heart (aka Godspeed) is up to something. Since he knows who Barry really is, the Scarlet Speedster is going to have to tread carefully.

Iron Heights is like the Flash’s closet full of skeletons. This is where all the super powered villains that he’s stopped are sent. They are treated pretty harshly and don’t look like they’re getting much in the way of rehabilitation. Granted, this isn’t really Barry’s problem. He stopped the bad guys. He doesn’t also have to ensure they become model citizens.

After the recent reappearance of Meena, Barry’s past is coming back to haunt him. This is personified in August Heart, a fellow speedster who Barry had taken under his wing, but who took the law into his own hands to murder criminals. He represents a failure and a grim possibility for what the Speed Force can do to a person. This makes for a very interesting character so I’m glad to see him return, especially with how he plays into this mystery.

The idea that August and Barry are like the opposite sides of a coin is played with in Howard Porter’s artwork. The two argue through the glass in August’s cell, facing each other like a mirror image. What is particularly interesting is how the emotions are flipped. Barry is angry and heated while August is calm and cool. You’d think the hero would be a little more collected, but emotions run high when you’re facing your regrets head on.

Porter has an eye for action and it’s on full display in The Flash #36. Although a large chunk of the issue takes place in Iron Heights and deals with a murder investigation, there’s still time for the Flash and Kid-Flash to stop a bank robbery. I love how Kid-Flash bursts onto the scene, leaving after-images of himself in his wake, mixed with lightning swirling every which way. It makes for an impressive entrance. The two of them are an efficient duo, backing each other up every step of the way. It’s refreshing to see Barry firing on all cylinders in the field again and I’m glad that Wally has stood by him in the costume.

While the action scenes are bright and vibrant due to the Speed Force lightning, the Iron Heights scenes are more subdued. Colorist Hi-Fi gives these pages a cooler look, fitting for a murder mystery. There’s a gritty tone to this place, despite its clean interior.

Writer Joshua Williamson has introduced a number of exciting elements during his tenure on The Flash. This issue starts to tie Godspeed to the Rogues in a way that’s sure to be big.  We’re left with a number of questions by the end and every one of them is packed with excitement and anticipation of the next chapter. That makes for some good comics.

The Flash #36 is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.