The Flash has been getting up to crazy time travel adventures again, and across multiple mediums! We saw the cinematic Flash first appear in Batman v Superman to warn Bruce Wayne about Lois Lane. Nora Allen was introduced, and has become a main cast member this season, over on The Flash television show. And lest the medium from which he was created be left out, writer Joshua Williamson brings things to a real head with the eighth volume of his fan-pleasing Flash run, FLASH WAR—wherein everything the respective Flashes think they know about time travel and the way the Speed Force works is blown apart.
Now, I’m a Wally West girl. I’ve proclaimed this fact in a number of articles, so I was rather taken with Flash War from the get go because it all turns around the relationship shared between Barry Allen and his nephew—in particular, the original version who was lost in the Speed Force for years and years and only reemerged fairly recently in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH. Williamson has focused his stories heavily on the strength of the various relationships within the Flash-Family, but it appears he may have been bringing these characters together (Barry Allen, Wally West, Iris West, Wallace West) only so that he could break them apart again in the most dramatic way possible.
This isn’t meant as a criticism, by the way. Relationships are always great fodder for drama, especially in comics. Plus, it allows us to once again put to bed the question of who is faster, Barry or Wally. Spoiler alert if you haven’t read Flash War yet: I came out of it a very happy camper.
In Flash War, Williamson unites two of Barry and Wally’s greatest villains. There’s a nice parallel narrative running (I will not apologize for the pun!) throughout much of Flash War until events come to a head and it is revealed that the real conflict lies between the Flashes themselves. Wally strives so hard to live up to the legacy Barry has laid down for him that it puts them at odds. This ultimately leads Wally to adopt some of Barry’s more questionable decisions and thought patterns…
…like the kind which could lead us to an event like Flashpoint and irreparably alter reality.
No matter which Flash you may prefer, it’s difficult not to side with Wally here, especially once readers learn just how much he’s lost in the wake of Barry Allen’s ardent disrespect for the timestream. But even if you’re sympathetic to Wally’s situation, or perhaps even because you are, his choices and actions in Flash War still seem reckless and alarming. With Barry and Wally’s collective backs turned as they run across the globe arguing, the Flashes are still making potentially catastrophic changes to the way the DC Universe works as we have come to understand it.
Not least of which is the introduction of a number of other forces besides that of speed. When the Speed Force was first introduced, it was a pretty monumental moment in the history of the Flash. In some ways, I’m surprised it’s taken this long to see additional forces come into play. These new forces allow for more ways to enhance a speedster’s inherent abilities, but they also allow for more ways to power up possible new villains. (Cold guns and heat guns suddenly feel so quaint!) The Sage Force, the Strength Force and the Still Force have the potential to change the Flash in the larger landscape of comic book history once again.
With this in mind, The Flash Vol. 8: Flash War holds the possibility of some truly watershed moments in its pages. The Flash War itself between Barry and Wally is pretty important, but then you also have the reemergence of Bart Allen from the Speed Force and a complete blowing open of what exactly the Speed Force and its fellow forces actually are, something which could affect characters outside of the Flash Family of books for years to come.
If those aren’t enough reasons for you to consider picking up Flash War (which, to its great credit, you can go into having not read any previous volume as long as you know who Barry and Wally are), it’s worth it for the art alone. Howard Porter has drawn many amazing comics—including, but definitely not limited to, JLA—and his work on The Flash is nothing short of kinetic. Sequences crackle with electricity as you hold them in your hands and characters really do look like they could come off the page right at you if you don’t dodge in time. It’s just stunningly gorgeous with HiFi colors to complement the bright, energetic storytelling.
We are presently enjoying a new Golden Age of Flash comic books and I honestly believe this eighth volume, Flash War, is the very best representation of the Fastest Man Alive in a long time.
Ashley V. Robinson writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and is a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly television column. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel.