The 700th issue of The Flash picks up with Barry trying to make amends with Iris to at least rekindle their friendship. Barry ends up with some larger problems as Gorilla Grodd attacks Central City. What does this maniacal villain have to do with the Speed Force Storm from way back in The Flash: Rebirth? Find out as “The Perfect Storm” begins!
Where The Flash #38 felt like an ending, The Flash #39 is the next chapter. It pulls from plot threads that go back to the beginning of the series. More importantly, writer Joshua Williamson has reestablished Barry in his own world. He’s the Scarlet Speedster once again. Sure, he had a few missteps along the way and his world was ripped apart. Now he’s back and ready for anything.
This starts with him letting Iris in. She wants to know everything and he reveals all, taking her on a ride-along through Central City, his history, and the Justice League Watchtower. This openness has been foreign to Barry up until this point as he always kept his identity secret for fear of the safety of his friends and family. I think this can only help him as he’ll have someone to confide in beside the Wallys.
I was happy to see that Iris calls out Barry on this false protection idea. He didn’t keep this a secret to protect others. It was to protect himself. I’ve criticized this decision in the past as it made for some cheesy excuses as Barry was always late or missing stuff and he couldn’t come clean without revealing his secret identity.
Carmine Di Giandomenico’s artwork matches up to this new light in Barry’s life. Coupled with Ivan Plascencia’s colors, it’s a bright ray of hope bursting out of Central City as a bolt of lightning. This contrasts nicely with the first few pages of their meeting as it’s very dark and dreary. When Barry opens up, it’s like an explosion of color and energy. Glimpses of previous adventures are shown between the rays of lightning as Barry carries Iris at super speed.
Grodd’s inclusion is spoiled by the cover of this issue and the solicitation information. This is disappointing because it’s set up as a very cool cliffhanger within the comic. Barry is running through the city when he starts to hear a nagging voice in his mind, pointing out his faults. He puts the pieces together and finds Grodd (and a few others tied to recent events) in a stunning final page that shows the power of the villain in all its glory.
We take Barry’s speed for granted at times as we just assume he’s running really fast. We don’t take into account what that might look like or how he might see the world around him. Di Giandomenico shows this brilliantly in a scene towards the end of this issue as time seems to slow all around the Flash. Rain is falling, but it’s stopped in mid-air, creating this hazy fog around the buildings and pedestrians. It’s almost creepy how time seems to stand still for everyone except for Barry.
The Flash #39 is a perfect jumping on point for this series. If you’ve been sleeping on this book, now is the time to hop on board. It feels like the beginning of a new phase and enough information is provided to get you quickly up to speed (no pun intended) without going through pages and pages of exposition. I’m excited to see where this goes next as the ending of this issue (The 700th!) looks like a huge deal for the character.