THE FLASH #29
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Pencilers: Pop Mhan & Christian Duce
Letterer: Steve Wands
Release Date: 8/23/17
The Flash #29 finds Barry Allen without his super-speed metabolism to help him heal – not to mention with a lot of guilt over the deaths caused by Shrapnel last issue. While the cover seemed to promise a massive showdown, the majority of the action has already taken place when the story starts. Instead Williamson takes the time to introduce a variety of Negative Speed Force side-effects and to explore how Barry’s work life changes as a result.
Pop Mhan’s art style is especially suited to this darker take on Flash, showcasing all the fear and anger that Barry has internalized. Hi-Fi’s colors are also dimmed from the vibrance of past issues to reflect the new normal, and the combination works for the current arc. Overall, the line work is extremely detailed with only a few inconsistencies that can’t be avoided when more than one person works on the art.
The discovery of each successive Negative power – such as his exploding aura – is more of a curse to Barry than a blessing, and the issue’s pacing feels weighed down with the burden of his self-reproach. But even though he’s no longer the warm and optimistic Barry Allen we know and love, he’s still as introspective as ever. It makes sense for Williamson to take his time diving into the new Barry for however long this status quo last, and it’s quite interesting to see how much of his CSI job relied on his previous powers. How successful will he be without them, especially when he insists on working alone instead of allowing Kristen and Singh to help?
Speaking of being alone, Barry’s personal life has dropped off the map since his fight with Iris and the emptiness he feels is magnified The Flash #29 even without him mentioning her or Wally even once. His attempts to be a lone wolf only highlight how much he needs family around him, though, as he himself remembers that even Bruce has Alfred to help him through the tough times. But it’s not all soaking in a bath and ruminating on misery, as he’s also given the opportunity to interact more with some coworkers who aren’t often seen.
As previously mentioned, the pace is slow but the last few pages offer some suspense and tension. The Flash #29 doesn’t answer any burning questions – such as who Shrapnel’s boss is – but it does manage to delve into the dark side of a hero without resorting to a great deal of carnage or an alternate timeline, and that is a feat in and of itself.
Verdict: 3.5 out 5 stars. An edgier and lonelier side of Barry Allen emerges in this arc, and the art follows suit with some great visuals. The issue’s lack of action can be a little frustrating, but that doesn’t keep the story from creating anticipation. Once the villain behind Shrapnel’s destruction emerges, I expect the intensity to ramp up considerably and for more of The Flash’s Negative powers to emerge.