REVIEW: The Flash #64 – The Price of Innocence

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Penciler: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Colorist: Tomeu Morey

Letterer: Steve Wands
Release Date: 2/13/18

The Flash #64 continues “The Price” arc begun in Batman #64, which in and of itself derives from the events of the Heroes in Crisis event. It’s a lot to keep up with if you don’t religiously follow comics, but thankfully only the first part of this crossover is required to be up to speed. Bruce, feeling guilty that he hasn’t found Wally’s killer, beats Barry to an attack on the Flash Museum and reveals that the person responsible is none other than his old protege Gotham Girl. At the end of the previous issue, the two heroes tried to track her down before she hurt anyone or killed herself by using up all her powers while the readers learned she was doing all of this with the intention of reviving her dead (dying still?) brother.

While the heart of The Flash #64 lies in the team-up between Barry and Bruce as they attempt to set aside the pain of the Sanctuary deaths for the sake of a case, some of the most poignant moments in the issue come from Gotham Girl’s tenuous grip on her sanity. The opening pages especially make excellent use of the powerful art team-up between Sandoval, Tarragona and Morey – maximizing the uncertainty and fear inspired by her mysterious puppet master and her brother’s decaying body. Not only that, but Williamson’s dialogue combines perfectly with her alternating gleeful and desolate expressions to paint a picture of a lost girl in desperate need of our two best detectives’ help.

Speaking of detectives, there is a running joke about which is them is the better one in The Flash #64 that lands quite nicely. While they call each other Sherlock or Watson and reminisce over old dumb villains like Dr. Double X, Williamson underscores the witty banter with a much deeper running commentary about the state of their friendship. Not only are they estranged in the wake of the deaths and their inability to find the killer, but they’ve also been isolated from one another’s lives altogether.

Not only was Barry entirely unaware of the abrupt end to Bruce and Selina’s engagement, for example, he was also busy harboring his own resentments. And while he may be too polite to give voice to them, Iris certainly isn’t about to keep quiet. It’s these scenes of honest characterization that really tie The Flash #64 together, especially since not much happens to actually resolve the mystery at this point in the story.

There are plenty of times where this kind of slow progression would kill the momentum of an arc, but it works wonders here. It’s been awhile since Batman readers have seen Claire, and it’s been almost as long since The Flash audience has gotten to spend time with (either) Wally. By taking the time to let each parental figure reflect on their interactions with their charges, and by connecting said charges thematically to one another, Williamson creates an even more urgent need to find Claire than the explosion of the Flash Museum.

Given that this issue is first and foremost part of Barry’s story, it’s no surprise that Williamson puts him in the lead when it comes to being the better detective. But far from being a gimmick, it feels earned in The Flash #64 precisely because he takes the time to sort his lightning-fast emotions into actual evidence. These introspective panels wind up being where both the writing and art shine, even if the final showdown with Claire is more exciting at first glance.

Verdict: 4 out 5 stars. The story isn’t fast-paced, but it’s heading to its conclusion at just the right speed. By pausing along the way to examine the state of Bruce and Barry’s psyches and friendship, The Flash #64 makes itself memorable beyond the question of how to stop Gotham Girl and who exactly has warped her this way.

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