In Review: The Flash #52

It's good, but I expected something bigger for the finale.

The covers: Lighting trickles onto the body of an unconscious Flash, who’s laying atop a gigantic green question mark. Just below the book’s title are the words “The End?” Is this the end of the Flash, or will be live to partake of DC’s Rebirth? Yeah, you know what will happen. A decent Regular cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair. It’s a very simple cover that recalls classic Carmine Infantino images of the 1980s. I purchased The New 52 Variant cover by Jesus Merino and Guy Major, this issue’s interior artist and colorist, respectively. The image is nice reinterpretation of the artwork of Francis Manapul from the first issue of this series when it rebooted. Flash’s costume is more shiny, there’s more lighting bolts bursting out of him, and he’s backlit by a bright while blast of energy. It’s just gorgeous. Overall grades: Regular B and New 52 Variant A

The story: “Full Stop” by Van Jensen is an appropriately titled issue, it being the final issue of this reboot. Captured last issue by the Riddler after revealing his identity to the Batman villain. His death is to be by guillotine. If he tries to escape the drones that the baddie has invented will kill all those of Central City that they’re targeting: he can save some of the people, but not all of them. Captain Frye, still reeling from Barry’s reveal, tells the Riddler he’s going too far. He’s reminded of the drones and that Heat Wave is in a combustion chamber and could be used to wipe the entire city of the map if he interferes. The Riddler goes to the Flash, his neck ready for the blade’s fall, to tell him they’re going to broadcast his death. The story then moves to the West household, where the drones announce the Flash’s impending death. Iris leaves to find out what’s going on, while Wally says to an empty room that he’s not going to just sit and watch his hero die. His actions are clever, having an unexpected result on the Riddler, and big kudos are due to Jensen for coming up with a clever way to undo Barry’s reveal last issue. The Rogues Gallery makes an appearance and they, too, have reasons for assisting the Flash. I have to give big bonus points to Jensen for having one character use dialogue from The Wrath of Khan. The remainder of the book boils down to everyone getting a shot at the Riddler, with the Flash getting the final swing. Things are wrapped up quickly, and one gets the feeling that Jensen had much more story to tell than wrap this up so quickly. Enjoyable, but a typical super hero outing. Overall grade: B+ 

The art: Jesus Merino is a big step up from the visuals from the last issue. Gone is the ridiculous trailing tails on the Riddler’s mask and there’s no questionable empty space in any panel. The opening page splash has Barry about to be beheaded. Heat Wave truly looks as though he’s in a horrific state of existence in his chamber of everlasting pain. The second panel on Page 3 does a lot: transitions from the villains to the heroes, shows the space between them, gives some background to show that the Riddler’s headquarters isn’t just an abandoned warehouse, and shows the emotional state of the heroes. That’s quite a bit accomplished in just one panel, and Merino does it smoothly. The cocky Riddler of the fifth panel is terrific. Wally’s bedroom is a nicely detailed environment, complete with trophies, disheveled bed, and CDs. When a character goes into action on Page 5 it’s an outstanding moment. Page 7 introduces another location, this time with four new characters to the issue, and, like the Riddler’s hideout, is drawn expertly. The close-up of the character in the third panel is excellent, with the folds in the costume stellar. The second panel showing the hero running on Page 11 is good, almost Infantino-like in its layout, though lighting bolts are used to show motion between figures rather than motion lines. The explosion on 16 is very well done, and the debris that’s shown in the panels that follow it are terrific. The final page of the book is a splash and it would have looked much better had it not been computer manipulated to give a blur effect. The Flash has been running around all issue without one, why do it now? Overall grade: A-

The colors: This is the big, bright bold book that the Flash should always have. Guy Major does the coloring and he really makes the art shine. The reveal of Heat Wave has Major doing an excellent tease in the third panel on Page 2, with the yellows looking like a photograph. The Riddler’s greens are bright, but not day-glo, allowing him to seem more realistic. The lightning that streaks out of speedsters is sensational throughout, always having a radiant glow. Captain Cold’s costume is an eye catcher in blue for every panel he appears. There are several big sounds in this blow out finale and Major’s coloring has each effect come off strong. Major’s highlight is the top of 14, where cool blues are countered by strong oranges and reds. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Dialogue, the story’s title, the book’s credits, yells, several transmissions, scene settings, and profanity (never gets old in comics!) are created by Pat Brosseau. When the transmissions occur they’er colored blue so the reader knows that they’re not coming from a human, but Brosseau has given them such a different font from the dialogue that the color, though good, was unnecessary. The thicker fonts used for character’s yells were excellent and it’s impossible not to like all the BUDDAs of this book. Overall grade: A

The final line: A typical super hero yarn closes out this series. It’s good, but I expected something bigger for the finale. Overall grade: A-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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