Once I saw this comic in my mailbox today, it automatically rocketed right to the top of my must read pile. I'm not going to make any comments yet, because I figure I'm going to have A LOT to say about this book after I give it a read. For the record, this comic is written by the awesome Geoff Johns.
-This issue begins with some cryptic stuff between someone and probably Abra Kadabra. The mystery man and Abra seem to fight, but we never find out exactly what happened... Mysterious!
-The scene shifts to the JSA headquarters where Liberty Belle is looking at statues of her parents. Suddenly the air crackles and Belle sees her father Johnny Quick seemingly asking Barry Allen to spare his daughter. Johnny then vanishes as abruptly as he appeared... Ah, mystery squared!
-From that "happy" scene we head to Iowa where Barry Allen has been placed in a containment unit while members of the JLA and the JSA try to figure out a way to cure him of his current Black Flash state. Wally tries to keep Barry's spirits up, but Barry is still dealing with his bout of self-loathing.
-Next Jay tries to cheer Barry up, but once again, no sale. Finally Bart shows up and inquires about the whereabouts of Max Mercury. After thinking MORE depressed thoughts upon seeing Bart, Barry tells Bart he doesn't know what happened to Max. Wow, and I thought Prince Hamlet was melancholy!
-Hal then brings Iris to the doom and gloom party and she tries to talk some sense into Barry. After listening to Iris, Barry suddenly experiences another pull from the Speed Force and urges the speedsters to get away from him before the Black Flash claims them.
-Hal, Wonder Woman and Superman(hey, shouldn't he be on New Krypton?)grab Barry's containment unit and fly him away from the others. At this point, lightning begins to rain down from the heavens in an attempt to strike Barry, but WW and Supes take care of that. After checking with Hal and making sure nobody was following him, Barry runs away.
-Supes pursues Barry, and Barry tells Supes the only sane thing for him to do is to return to the Speed Force before he hurts/kills someone he cares about. Needless to say, Supes tells Barry he would never allow him to basically commit suicide, but Barry tells Supes it's his decision, before leaving Supes in the dust.
-Barry begins to run as fast as he can and begins to cross through time and space, running backwards through his life before making his way back into the Speed Force, where he discovers Johnny Quick and Max Mercury. Johnny grabs Barry and winds up dying like the other speedsters who have touched Barry. Max grabs Barry's boot, against Barry's pleading, and the two of them are transported to the Reverse Flash/Professor Zoom, who it would seem is behind Barry's current predicament.
Hmm, hmm, hmm... What to say... First off, I should say that this comic was a real page turner. I really couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. Geoff really did a magnificent job of instilling some great suspense in this comic. The story was sound, and the artwork kept right up.
However, I have to say much of this comic bothered me. A lot. Now, before anybody flips out, accuses me of blasphemy, or puts a voodoo curse on me, allow me to explain. I don't like Barry Allen. Prior to his return in Final Crisis, I had very basic knowledge of Barry. Obviously I knew he was the Flash prior to Wally West, I knew he was married to Iris, I knew he was a cop, and I knew he died in a very heroic fashion. I understood all of Barry's familial connections(the Tornado Twins, Bart, etc.)and stuff like that, but I didn't really know much about Barry himself. Most of my ideas about WHO Barry Allen is is coming from this series, and for whatever reason, Geoff is writing Barry in a very whiny, almost unlikable way(to me anyway). I get it already. Things didn't turn out the way Barry expected. It seems like he still wants to be dead or in the Speed Force, or whatever the hell happens to deceased speedsters. For a guy who gained a second chance at life, Barry seems really unhappy, annoyingly so.
My other major problem comes from the "big" reveal at the end of this comic, that the Reverse Flash/Professor Zoom seems to be behind all of Barry's recent misfortune. Ever since the events of Final Crisis: Rogue's Revenge, I knew the Reverse Flash would be returning along with Barry. How did I know? The way Geoff wrote out the current Zoom in that comic told me exactly what would wind up happening. I liked Zoom(Hunter Zolomon). He was a very interesting, well-written character. Now he's confined in a wheelchair so a character who's been dead for what, 20-30 years can take over the Zoom costume/name? Ugh, enough already. I've already stated my displeasure about Barry replacing Wally as the Flash, but now we're also going to bring back all of Barry's foes as well? I guess the current Trickster will be the next to go when the old Trickster returns to plague Barry.
Let me dial back the anger a bit here before I continue. I still consider Geoff Johns to be one of the top comic book writers in the business today. I love Geoff's work 99.999% of the time, but this series is just pissing me off... No matter what, Wally West did indeed exist! There was a Flash comic that ran from 1987 to 2009. Wally did a fantastic job replacing Barry Allen in those comic books. I know, I have most of that series. I guess that's the problem. Where I like the Wally West Flash, Geoff Johns is obviously a huge fan of the Barry Allen Flash. As weird and backwards as it may sound, I see Barry Allen as an impostor, one who is usurping Wally's position as the Flash. Yes, I know, Barry was the Flash before Wally was, so it's asinine to imply that Barry is stealing anything from Wally, but for practically my entire life, Wally WAS the Flash.
I have to admit, I really don't know what kind of a score I should give this comic book. On one hand, it was a real page turner, and a great read. But on the other hand, after finishing it I was really pissed... For a score I'll give this comic an 8 out of 10. This was a very good comic that I'd recommend to anybody, however it just didn't ring true for me.