Barry and Wally are racing all around the world, not for fun but out of desperation. Wally just learned of the existence of his children, allegedly trapped within the Speed Force. If he can run fast enough, he can get inside and save them. Barry recognizes the danger in this as he made the very same mistake when he went back in time to save his mother, and created Flashpoint. The Justice League, the Titans, and the US Government are trying to stop the speedsters before they tear the planet apart.
At the end of the day, all that really happens in The Flash #49 is two guys run really fast. That sounds boring and unexciting, but the issue is anything but. Artist Howard Porter shows the effect this speed is having on everything around the characters. It comes through in the look of fear in other heroes, the exhausted expression of Superman after he tries to catch up to Barry and Wally, and the strained muscles of Hal Jordan as his focused green construct fails to slow them down.
Of course, there are the speedsters themselves, bursting from page to page in blurs of lightning. You can practically feel the raw energy pulsing through the comic as they run faster than the eye can see. Letterer Steve Wands illustrates this well when Superman tries to catch them. As fast as the Man of Steel is, he doesn’t hold a candle to the Speed Force. His dialogue is presented normally, but that of Barry and Wally is squished together, like it’s all one word, showing how fast they’re going that even Superman can’t quite catch up.
The lightning is different for each Flash. Barry’s is yellow while Wally’s is blue. This creates a burst of color whenever they speed across the page. The lightning swirls around them like a powerful, yet dangerous energy wave. Colorist Hi-Fi makes these pop with such intensity. It only adds to the excitement of the book.
To no one’s surprise, Wally doesn’t find his kids in the Speed Force. His first clue that this wouldn’t happen should have been in the source of the information: Zoom. It was all part of a plan from the villain and he reveals a strange and demented plan to show Barry and Wally what a real hero is. He also demonstrates a knowledge of the Speed Force that no one else comes close to. As a reminder, despite having it course through his veins, Barry really has no idea how the thing works.
There’s a complicated explanation for the end of The Flash #49 that I’m not entirely comfortable with. It feels too similar to the various colored Corps that Geoff Johns brought into his run on Green Lantern, but now with the Speed Force. We only get a brief introduction to it though, so I’m reserving judgment until I see it play out in the rest of this arc. I have faith in writer Joshua Williamson.
Flash War has been nothing short of epic. This issue is no different. It’s brought Zoom back into the fold as a major villain, replacing Reverse-Flash as the go-to nemesis for the speedsters. His plan is tearing apart, not just Barry and Wally’s lives, but everyone and everything around them. How can they possibly get out of this?