As my regular readers know, I've been pretty hard on this series since the initial issue. I was angry about Wally West getting tossed to the curb, and I just didn't like Barry Allen's bad attitude upon his return to the land of the living. However, since the last issue of this series, I've read the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" TPB, and you know what? That trade gave me a new appreciation for old Barry. If I was Barry, I'd be pissy too! He was shafted terribly in "Crisis", so as far as I'm concerned, he has every right to be mad at the world. I'll be reading this issue with a new set of pro-Barry eyes. This story is written by comic book GOD, Geoff Johns with art by Ethan Van Sciver.
-This comic starts out with Prof. Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, explaining to Barry Allen and Max Mercury the ins and outs of the Speed Force. Apparently, Barry Allen created the Speed Force the day he was doused with those chemicals and struck by lightning all those years ago. It seems that when Barry runs, he expands the Speed Force, allowing it to transcend time and space(or so I think...). When the Reverse Flash replicated the experiment that created Barry, he created an evil, Negative Speed Force. When Thawne runs, his Negative Speed Force gains power and begins to diminish the influence of Barry's Positive Speed Force(maybe?).
-Barry and Max try to fight the crazed Thawne, but since they are trapped on the Negative side of the Speed Force, Thawne is practically all powerful. After toying with Barry and Max for a while, Thawne decides to leave the Speed Force and literally run amok.
-Hal Jordan travels to Iowa and tells the collection of heroes gathered there that Barry Allen returned to the Speed Force so he wouldn't put any friends or loved ones in jeopardy with his misfiring powers(thanks to Thawne). Wally West refuses to accept that Barry is gone(again)and decides he will enter the Speed Force and bring Barry back out, reasoning that he is one of the few beings who has entered the Speed Force and come out again. With that, Wally begins his trek into the Speed Force.
-With Wally gone, Thawne heads to Wally's family home and grabs his children, and does what every good villain should do in such a situation, he threatens the kids. That's the easiest way to get bad guy cred, threaten innocent children!
-Linda calls Wally for help with her ring(?), and with Wally unavailable, Jay and Bart respond, beating Thawne out of Wally's home and into the street. Unfortunately for the two speedsters, Thawne is more than a match for them and he manages to take Jay out of the fight and decides to kill Bart for corrupting the Thawne bloodline.
-Back in the Negative Speed Force, Wally finally locates Barry and prepares to ferry him back to Earth. Barry wants Max to leave with him, but Max explains that while Barry has Iris and Wally has Linda to draw them out of the Speed Force, Max has nobody. Barry reputes that by saying that Max is practically Bart's father, and that Bart is Max's anchor. Max grabs Barry's hand, and Barry manages to grab ahold of Wally and all three speedsters run out of the Speed Force, appearing in front of a surprised Thawne, ending this issue.
YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! Max Mercury is back!!! Ehem, with that out of my system, I can begin looking into this comic. This was a fantastic comic book! Although I will admit to being a bit confused by the Negative/Positive aspect of the Speed Force, everything else was flawless. The story, the dialogue, Geoff's awesome knowledge of the past and the artwork. It was all just so perfect!
Let's get this Speed Force stuff out of the way first. The way I understand it(and I could be WAY off)is that whenever Thawne runs he is corrupting the Speed Force with his Negative(Reverse)energies, and when Barry runs he is expanding the Speed Force... I guess. If I'm wrong on this(which is a strong possibility)please correct me!
OK, with that out of the way, we can get to the rest of this comic. Initially, I was annoyed that Zoom was de-powered and tossed aside so Reverse Flash could return to don the yellow and red. After reading this issue though, I think I could definitely get into Thawne's character. Geoff did a good job at establishing Thawne as a huge threat to the entire Flash family as well as making him seem multi-faceted. All of the prior things I'd read about Thawne made him seem like the quintessential boring/insane villain. Yes, Thawne is still obviously insane, but Geoff also establishes the Professor side of his personality as well. Thawne is obsessed with Barry Allen, but he is also obsessed with learning all of the secrets of the Speed Force.
All of the relationships amongst the various members of the Flash family were written to perfection here. Bart and Jay's concern for Wally, Bart's anger after Jay(his one-time guardian)was hurt by the maniacal Thawne, the joy on Bart's face when his "father" Max Mercury returned from the Speed Force, Thawne's disgust that Bart shared both his blood and Allen blood, as well as Wally's love for Barry. Geoff hit every note perfectly, and Ethan's art accentuated Geoff's words wonderfully. Nobody was out of character(a major pet-peeve of mine), all of the dialogue was spot on, and Geoff's slight tweaks in the Flash mythos were worked into the story seamlessly. So yeah, obviously I really liked this comic book alot! For a score, I'm going to have to give this issue a 10 out of 10, a perfect score. I couldn't find any fault with this comic. To me, this was comic book nirvana.Yeah baby, Max Mercury is BACK!