Barry Allen has been the fastest man alive. Now he’s the strongest man alive thanks to the Strength Force he’s been able to siphon off of the Trickster. He needs to find a way to control this new strange power before it kills him…or Commander Cold kills him. Either way, he’s bulked up in a big way.
Although his muscles are gigantic, the Flash’s head is still about the same. The Trickster has the same problem. This makes for some humorous panels as these two small-headed giants are lumbering around Iron Heights. While they can definitely bench press more than you, these two look like they’re in pain. This is physical fitness taken to an extreme. There are some panels from artist Christian Duce where it looks like their bodies are about to burst.
Duce provides some much needed perspective throughout The Flash #54. It’s one thing to see someone that looks big and bulky. It’s another to see them tower over a normal human being. At one point the Trickster is standing in front of Warden Wolfe and he’s literally four times the size of the guy. This is what the Strength Force is capable of.
Letterer Steve Wands uses a gravelly font for the Trickster. You can just imagine his voice booming as he closes in on Wolfe. It’s interesting that Barry doesn’t have the same setup. This could be because he’s more in control than the Trickster is, so he doesn’t turn as monstrous.
The Flash and the Trickster are fighting it out in the bowels of Iron Heights which is a pretty gloomy setting. Colorist Luis Guerrero creates a gritty feeling to these scenes, which contrasts nicely to the closing pages, which represent a new day. The sun is shining and while Barry doesn’t have all the answers, he’s at least solve this problem, albeit ham-fistedly.
I’ve become somewhat frustrated with Barry over the course of The Flash. He doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes. Every time I think that he’s getting better and he’s realized how stubborn he’s been, he goes right back to the same errors. He has an argument with Iris towards the end of this issue that feels out of place by this point.
Barry carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. He refuses to let anyone else relieve him of even a fraction of this burden. This behavior creates distance from his loved ones. It’s already driven away both Wally Wests and now it’s going to do the same with Iris. Sometimes I just want to shake him but he’d probably just vibrate out of my grip and go on being mopey.
Duce creates this awesome effect at the end of this encounter with Barry walking away from Iris. His shadow is replaced with fire, symbolizing the burned bridge he’s leaving behind. This is such a powerful statement.
The other Forces are still out there and Barry has taken up the responsibility of finding them and figuring them out. He didn’t do too well with the Strength Force and he’s pushed away anyone else that might help him, so this is going to be a bumpy road. Hopefully he’ll let some others in soon. Writer Joshua Williamson spins quite a few plates with this issue, moving a number of plot points forward while introducing some new ones. It will be fun to see how they all tie together.