Sorry for the delay from my usual Monday post, but I’ve been sick! And since this is a pretty hefty book, I needed to take some bed rest for the extra time required to finish it ;D
Barry Allen is finally on the road back to happiness. He wakes up the morning of his wedding to Fiona Webb, at last feeling like he can put the past behind him for good. However, just as he’s getting into his tux, one of the Guardians of Oa appears to him. His arch nemesis, the Reverse Flash, has escaped from the galactic prison that Barry sealed him in. Rage takes over Barry – the last time they dueled, it ended in the murder of Barry’s first wife, Iris West. Reverse Flash is determined to make history repeat itself by killing Fiona as well. Warning the Guardians to stay out of his fight, Barry takes off to stop the Reverse Flash, leaving his family, friends, and his bride-to-be at the altar.
At the end of their struggle, the Reverse Flash is dead. Fiona, hurt and humiliated from being left at the altar, and shocked at how close she came to death, suffers a mental breakdown. To the general public, Barry Allen is missing, but to those who know him best, he has gone into hiding in plain sight as the Flash. Barry himself is reeling from the events of that fateful day. Half of Central City maintains that the Reverse Flash’s death was an accident, but the other half paints the Flash as a murderer. Barry is not sure himself whether he meant to kill his rival or not. His fate rests in the hands of twelve jurors. Is the Flash a murderer? Should he be held accountable for his actions, just like any other man? Or do his heroic feats earn him a “get out of jail free” card?
This run was originally published over several years in the mid 1980’s, and the writing reflects the best of both the Silver Age and the more modern storylines. There is great time spent on Barry’s inner struggle, and the struggle of the public at large, to reconcile the heroic ideal and the very human tendency to protect those we love at any cost. But, there are also wacky subplots and moments that only older comics can provide. The thing I love best about older comics like these is, they don’t take themselves too seriously, even though the subject matter may hardly be a laughing matter.
There is much more to the story than the bare bones I have laid above, with many subplots featuring Flash’s rogues gallery, his lawyer, and the Justice League, that all fit together magnificently in the end, in ways you wouldn’t expect. After finishing it, I am simply awestruck at the creative energy that went into a story several years in the making. This is easily up for my best 2018 reads list.
My only nitpick with this volume was, while the art was great, the DC Showcase volume it’s contained in only printed it in black and white. I was disappointed at first, but got used to it as I read. It did become hard to distinguish some characters from one another, especially the Rogues Gallery who, apart from Captain Cold (with his signature fluffy hood), seem to all be wearing the same thing. I’m sure their costumes are colored differently from one another, but it was all lost here.
I haven’t read much Flash, but this is obviously a definitive story for the character. Enough backstory is explained to where I would give it to a new Flash fan; there are also enough recognizable characters to a fan of the show who hasn’t yet started the comics. For those who may be daunted by the length – don’t be. Devouring this one in bite-sized chunks over several days made me forget I was sick for a little while 😉
Bates, Cary, Carmine Infantino, et al. DC Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash. 2011.