The Flash #86 Review: Barry Allen Can't Outrun Being Average

Comic Reviews - The Flash #86
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

When I think of the Flash, I more often than not think of the runs of creators like Geoff Johns and Mark Waid. Whether they were establishing the character of Wally West as the crimson speedster of Central City, or attempting to give Barry Allen back his "crown" as the Flash, it's creators like this that my mind darts to time and time again. With new contenders coming in the form of writer Josh Williamson and artist Rafa Sandovall, it's unfortunate that they come so close to greatness but can't seem to make all the gears work in unison to add their names to the Flash Museum.

The current story line in The Flash, for those who may be out of the loop, sees Lex Luthor delivering the Rogues a serious power boost, an upgrade that led Captain Cold to change his name to "King Cold" before taking over Central City. Along with the rest of the Rogues, Barry Allen and his young speedster sidekicks find themselves in quite the predicament—juggling their powerful antagonists while their connection to the Speed Force runs amok.

On paper, we have an impressive set up for a story arc that does a great job of merging a cross over event with an idea that few have explored: What if the Rogues had the power of Gods? Definitely an interesting foil for the Rogues, but the characterizations of the villains just don't hold up under scrutiny. Leonard Snart is a complex antagonist, often skirting the line between villain and anti-hero, but here he's simply made to be a mad dog, spouting off the usual villainous platitudes.

This isn't to say that things are all bad. Barry Allen's struggle with the Speed Force and the energetic artwork that accompanies it at least makes the issue itself a visually impressive read. Sandovall possesses a great understanding of the speed and energy that goes into each super speed battle, as well as the emotions that are strewn across the faces of our characters. The story itself is certainly packed to bursting with interesting ideas, but it just never fully manages to reach its potential at the end of the day.

For everything that works in this issue, there's almost always an equivalent moment that doesn't. Williamson has a great understanding of the character of Barry Allen and it's clear he has a lot of love for Central City. He's done great work in the past with stories like "Flash War," I just wish this latest arc was a tad more polished.

Published by DC Comics

On January 15, 2020

Written by Joshua Williamson

Art by Rafa Sandovall

Inks by Jordi Tarragona

Colors by HI-FI and Arif Prianto


Letters by Steve Wands

Cover by Rafa Sandovall