Part of the challenges set forth with the new 52 relaunch was how to tell the story of its most famous heroes. Parts of the heroes identities were so well known and so well established that it would be hard to put a modern spin on what is essentially comic book mythology by this point. Thus Batman’s history was no different as the hero was born on that night in Crime Alley, just as Superman hurtled to Earth in a spaceship from dying Krypton. In fact the origins of most of DC’s major heroes has not been changed at all save for one, the Flash. Some commonalities still remain, but many are different. In a way it makes sense, as Barry Allen had about twenty years of down time before he came back into mainstream continuity, and the lessons learned from the last days of the silver age taught that there were certain things important about the Flash’s history, but some that needed a touch-up. In particular is the end of the silver age, the somewhat confusing trial of Barry Allen that helped lead to his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The importance of Eobad Thawne to Barry Allen is a relationship that needed to be maintained though, as important to Barry as the Joker is to Batman or Lex Luthor is to Superman. Although other villains have more visibility, it is Thawne who is the true arch-nemesis of Barry, plaguing him throughout his existence in one way or another. As a modern and updated telling of Barry’s nemesis, this is the story that demanded to be told in the new 52, and it is the one which is being told now. It should be said that the Flash is often one of the heroes that tends to be a bit below the surface in terms of popularity, and it can be easy to see why. The nature of his stories are a bit more lighthearted than some others, but when it comes to Thawne it doesn’t matter. Drama must prevail. The story of Thawne is one that has been teased at for a while now, but one that is still in its infancy in this story arc. Barry has to deal with his father, has to be there for Wally, and shows signs of reigniting the traditional relationship with Iris, but this is all about the setup for the showdown with Thawne.
In so doing this issue shows that the story line is still in its early stages, with Thawne’s group of villains playing a larger role here than Thawne himself. What is supposed to be a big story is therefore somewhat diluted by the slower rollout as well as not really changing much from the regular script of this series. It is fun and does well for the hero, but the the dramatic payoff still seems to be far enough away as Barry deals with the mundane (mundane for a superhero that is) before the bigger fireworks start. This issue will probably become necessary reading after we see whatever finale is ahead for hero and villain, but for now stays true to the performance of the series, good but not great, with a decent amount of fun.
Story: Robert Venditti and Van Jensen Art: Brett Booth
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy