The Flash #754
Written by Josh Williamson
Art by Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, Arif Prianto and Hi-Fi
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
With his last issues already announced, Josh Williamson’s Flash tenure might be running out of steam. The writer’s attempts to make a statement about Barry Allen’s legacy just don’t really amount to anything, and Paradox is a toothless threat. There’s a certain level of inevitability to the plotting here that fails to say anything impactful about the characters involved. Artist Rafa Sandoval makes it all look pretty great, though – he delivers solid cartooning across the issue and for a run that has traded in looping the same iconography over and over again, his work has remained a highlight.
Similar to the last issue, I think Williamson’s general storytelling instincts are correct here. If Barry Allen is the consummate hero that is relatively unchanged throughout the multiverse, then the only way to affect him is to go after the people he loves. However, Barry’s supporting cast is absent from this issue. Paradox only kills a past version of himself (this would really seem like it should’ve been your first move if you’ve got his powers, but whatever) while Barry and Eobard fight over how to best handle Paradox.
If Barry is the ultimate hero of his story, Eobard is likely always the villain, but regardless it looks like they’ll have to work together and set aside their differences – while both succumbing to their universal roles – in order to set things right. That’s fine. Stories work that way. But a whole issue that leads us to basically the same conclusion as the last one (which in and of itself was just doubling down on the issue before that) doesn’t make for real top-of-the-stack reading. I’m not sure if Williamson has more to say than “Barry Allen is a hero,” and that’s unfortunate for a run that’s lasted this long (and had some fun stories along the way!).
That said, artist Rafa Sandoval does everything that Williamson could have hoped for in this issue. His first double-page spread with Barry and Eobard is absolutely gorgeous. Sandoval doesn’t fall into the trap that so many do with DC’s Flash family where they are essentially just Barry Allens in slightly different costumes – Sandoval lets Eobard’s body language and expression reveal his character and that makes all the difference. (It also helps that colorists Alif Priano and Hi-Fi put a real crackling energy into his eyes.) It’s unfortunate that some of Sandoval’s storytelling gets thrown off by sloppy lettering from Steve Wands part of the way through that has Flash and Reverse-Flash’s bubbles completely switched, but overall, this is an issue that leans on its strong visuals.
As Williamson reaches the end of his run, his art teams are carrying him more than ever. Flash #754 isn’t a bad comic book despite a few missteps, but it doesn’t feel essential in the way some of Williamson’s other stories have. By taking the supporting cast out of the equation and focusing more on Barry, Williamson has done the opposite of what he probably wanted to do – he’s made the Flash something of a cipher in his own book. Coupled with the fact that Wally West is basically a god now, it feels odd that Barry isn’t tagging in more of his Flash family for help right now. Like I said with the last issue, if you are already waist-deep in this run, you’ll probably want to keep wading further to reach the conclusion but it’s unlikely that you’ll be surprised by anything Williamson is offering here.