The Flash #34 Review: Another Dark Flash
Meena, thought dead at the hands of Godspeed, has returned. She warns the Flash that his Negative Speed Force powers are killing him. She wants Barry, with the help Kid Flash, to exhibit these Negative Speed Force abilities so that she can measure them and possibly determine a means of removing them.
However, some parts of her story don't add up for Barry. Is Meena really on his side, or does she have some other motive?
There are a lot of freaking speedsters running around DC Comics continuity now.
In addition to Barry Allen and the two Wally Wests, we have three anti-Flash rogues with names bouncing between Reverse-Flash and Professor Zoom between Eobard Thawne, Hunter Zolomon (admittedly MIA in New 52/Rebirth continuity), and Daniel West (possibly dead). There is Impulse/Kid Flash Bart Allen who randomly disappeared. You can't forget Flash Jay Garrick who will hopefully be returning soon. Godspeed and Meena are zooming around in Flash-esque attire. Savitar hasn't been seen in New 52/Rebirth either, but Troia referenced his return in Titans #17. The grim reaper Black Flash may come back, and his job is carrying off dead Flashes apparently. Johnny Quick of the Crime Syndicate is sure to come back some day. That's not even mentioning the non-Flash speedsters who have a connection to the Speed Force on the Justice Society: Max Mercury and Johnny and Jessie Quick.
Hell, right now we have the Red Death Batman from Metal too.
I get that super-speed is such a conventional power, and some of those named aren't active and some aren't even that related to the Flash continuity. However, Joshua Williamson's Flash series has shown itself fairly obsessed with creating new evil counterparts to the Flash with Godspeed and Meena. It doesn't help that Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato contributed their own new Reverse-Flash with Daniel West, and there are two Wally Wests right now. That's admittedly not the fault of Williamson, but he should keep it in account when writing Flash.
Consequently, this issue is overshadowed by the constant "Oh God, there's another one?" running through my brain.
I'll admit I'm boiling these evil speedsters down their super power without considering personality. For example, I do prefer the much, much newer Daniel West Reverse-Flash to Eobard Thawne. And, who knows, Meena may turn into a great Flash character. I do like that they're reusing the color scheme of that crazed future Barry Allen from New 52 Flash with her suit. I also respect that this character is a woman of color as opposed to another white dude like the vast majority of Flashes.
All this remains to be seen, but, in the interim, this comic didn't leave me excited at the prospect. This issue is mostly more indication of how destructive the Negative Speed Force is, Meena's backstory, and unearned sexual tension between Meena and Barry leaving Barry to look a little creepy.
Artist Pop Mhan works the panels in this issue, and it looks really good. It's a unique and dynamic style which plays with shading very well. The costumes look especially great in this book, and Ivan Plascencia makes sure the colors play off each other effectively.
The reintroduction of Meena didn't leave me excited. If this is going to work, she needs to be more than another antagonistic Flash with a great costume. Daniel West stood apart from Eobard Thawne with genuine anguish and destructive optimism fueling his actions. Hopefully Meena can have something like that and not just be a Flash for Barry to pine over. We'll see; hopefully her story will improve from here.
At its best, this comic was a fairly dull reestablishment of a character with great art. At its worst—well, it's another anti-Flash. I can't really recommend it unfortunately; hopefully this series can return to the levels of quality it attained during the Bloodwork arc and most recent Reverse-Flash arc.
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