By Joshua Williamson, Carmine DiGiandomenico, Neil Googe, Ryan Sook, Ivan Plascencia, Hi-Fi, and Dave McCaig
The somewhat large creative team attached to this issue initially seemed a bit off-putting. As a general rule, the more talent on board the more uneven the book feels. That was very much not the case, however, with The Flash #25. This is the first part of the “Running Scared” arc that sets Barry against his greatest nemesis, The Reverse Flash, in spectacular fashion that cements it as a major game changer for the series. A lot of this issue is devoted to flashbacks and exploring the origin of the Reverse Flash as we learn he was someone who was inspired by Barry’s antics in the past. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Eobard Thawne took a different turn to that of Barry’s, favoring the ability to make himself look good over actually committing selfless acts of heroism that Barry favored. As a result, Barry quickly rejects Thawne, and The Reverse Flash is slowly born out of a sense of anger and betrayal.
The artwork here is absolutely gorgeous, with some amazing dynamic visuals that really make this book stand out. Carmine DiGiandomenico, Neil Googe, and Ryan Sook bring their pencils to the table in a way that never feels easy to tell which artist did which particular page. There is a clear flowing design throughout the book. The fight scene fairly early on between Eobard and Barry when they’re both wearing the same costume is handled really well, putting the focus squarely on both characters as they dominate the splash page. The colors help serve to add an extra rich dynamic with Ivan Plascencia, Hi-Fi, and Dave McCaig all bringing their A-Game to the table. There are no bad panels in this book and everything really makes a good impression, and the future of the 25th Century (where the book predominately takes place) is really fleshed out and feels incredibly distinctive.
Whilst we’ve seen plenty of confrontations between Barry and The Reverse Flash in the present day before, exploring the 25th Century like Williamson has done here really feels rewarding. As it’s an era that hasn’t yet been visited in the television show, it also provides a welcome opportunity for fans of the show who aren’t that familiar with the timeline to explore it in a more thorough way than perhaps the show has allowed due to budget constraints. The recapping nature of the book, especially in its early pages, does feel predominately geared to new readers, so those familiar with these two characters may find themselves a tad bored, but there’s enough material here to make it a must-read regardless and emerge above the standard filler feel.
Just like the previous issue, this book does end on a cliffhanger that almost makes it feel as though it was over too quickly. Just as the action feels like it’s getting underway, you’re left hanging with no answers until what comes next. But trade readers will have no such issue with this and neither will those coming late to the series. It’s just frustrating more than anything that the issue isn’t available right now at this moment, because the final revelation is something that should have happened a long time ago in the series and really serves as a potential major change in the status quo as the series goes forward. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, because it’s played out really well.