Barry Allen is the Fastest Man Alive, but all the speed in the world can’t help you outrun an uneasy heart. Iris West – Barry’s one-time friend, whom he had recently begun dating – has been keeping her distance from Barry in the wake of an encounter with The Reverse Flash that saw Barry Allen’s secret identity revealed and Eobard Thawne dead.
Now that things have slowed down in the wake of The Flash shutting down a secret Rogue hideout hidden within Iron Heights Prison itself, Barry is finally taking the time to talk to Iris and lay out the whole story. How he gained his powers. How he monitors Central City for trouble. And, most importantly, how he never intended to hurt her with his need for secrecy.
Unfortunately, even as he opens up, there are other secrets Barry Allen continues to hide from Iris West. How in another time and another place they were husband and wife. How she has a second nephew named Wally West, forcibly edited out of their lives at a cosmic level, who has returned to their world as The Flash. And even as Barry Allen debates revealing even more of his secrets, an old enemy who knows Barry Allen’s mind as well as his own is poised to make a violent return alongside the super-science cabal known as The Black Hole…
Numerically the 700th monthly issue of The Flash, The Flash #39 would prove a perfect entry point to the series and a great story with a shocking twist ending if it weren’t for one factor – a regular cover that gives away the secret of who the issue’s villain is! Granting that devoted fans of The Flash will probably be able to guess the villain’s identity based on their powers and dialogue before we see them, it’s still a shocking oversight on the part of DC Comics editorial team.
Despite this, Joshua Williamson’s story does a fantastic job of laying out Barry Allen’s origins and the most recent events of The Rebirth Era for those readers who are just now picking up this book and those who only know the character from the television series. Far from a dry recital of history, Williamson’s dialogue handles the exposition smoothly and naturally, while allowing for wonderful character moments such as Barry taking Iris on a trip to The Justice League Watchtower. There’s also a fun subplot where Kid Flash teams up with Avery Ho – another teen speedster, who recently joined the new Chinese Justice League formed in New Super-Man.
The artwork is as amazing as the story, though Carmine Di Giandomenico’s style can be an acquired taste. While the artwork here gets a bit rough at points, particularly when the speedster characters are on the run, this is an intentional affectation (along with the lightning-squiggles around the characters) meant to suggest their continual motion and struggle to stand still. Personally, I find the artistic choice to be an effective one, particularly when paired with the dazzling colors of Ivan Plascencia and Steve Wands’ letters.
Bottom Line: If you haven’t given The Flash a try, this is the perfect point to start the run.