The Flash’s world gets even bigger.
“Flash War” is one of those all too rare event comics that achieves that elusive balance between delivering earth-shattering revelations and telling an emotional, character-driven story. The Flash #50 wraps up this particular conflict on an enjoyable note. Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Howard Porter offer a number of teases regarding the future of the franchise, but the focus never wavers from the crucial dynamic between Barry Allen and Wally West.
More than any other monthly series, The Flash has gotten a huge amount of mileage out of exploring the fallout of DC Universe Rebirth #1. Williamson continues building on that foundation in this issue, exploring how important Barry and Wally’s friendship is while also highlighting the domino effect that issue caused and the profound impact their actions are having on the universe. Most of all, he capitalizes on Wally’s dilemma as a man cut off from the life he knew and unable to reunite with a wife who no longer remembers him and children who may or may not still exist. If this arc has proven anything, it’s that Wally absolutely needs his own solo comic again. There’s so much more room to explore even now, both in terms of his ties to the rest of the Flash Family and on his own.
Another element that has long made this series stand out is the fact that Williamson approaches his scripts with a very classic, old-school storytelling sensibility. There’s something almost campy about the conflict between the Flashes and Hunter Zolomon, but there’s also an earnestness to the writing that helps sell it. The way Williamson draws on the long, complicated history of these heroes is yet more proof of how vital DC Rebirth has been in restoring the lost luster of this superhero universe.
This issue doesn’t necessarily showcase Porter at his peak. The figure work feels a little loose compared to previous “Flash War” chapters. Not to mention that the dense plot necessitates a more cramped approach to page structure. Some of the chase sequences could have used a little more to breathe. Even so, Porter and colorist Hi-Fi keep the story humming along and presented in a clean, easy to follow manner. That’s easier said that done when all three main characters are speedsters clad in similar red suits. And there are still some splash images that boasts the detail and intensity for which Porter is known.
If anything, “Flash War” seems almost too ambitious for its own good. This arc as a whole and this issue in general work to expand on the Flash mythology in major ways. That results in a wealth of new characters and story elements. Some of these new additions seem like overkill. Do we really need a whole spectrum of Forces like we do the various Lantern Corps? Do we need this many epilogue teases all setting up new plot threads? Future stories will determine how well all these new additions truly fare. But ultimately, it’s the characters, not the big ideas, that make this series special.