Flash's first story arc in the "New 52" is reaching its conclusion and it might not be a happy ending for everyone.
Central City is a bit of a mess. Heroes are often portrayed as near perfect. This is the time for new and old readers to get to know Barry Allen. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are taking the opportunity to show us a different side to Barry. The idea of being able to extend his abilities yet not having the time to fully explore them is a bit ironic for the fastest man alive. It's easy to think of the Flash as just a guy that can run fast but we're seeing that there is much much more to his powers (wait until you see what's brought up in this issue).
Another great thing is this title isn't just about Barry. We get to see Iris, Patty and more on Iron Heights and the Rogues. And of course Mob Rule and Barry's friend Manuel. Barry wants to save the day. He has an entire city suffering from the blackout along with Mob Rule and their plan to 'fix' themselves. There will be repercussions following the events here.
Besides the story, Manapul and Buccellato's art and colors add another layer to the story. Often an issue can be viewed based on the story as well as the art. It's great seeing Manapul cut loose with page layouts and design. The effects of the colors makes you pause with each page so you can take it all in.
While it's great seeing Barry adjust to his powers, I started having feelings creep in as to where this fits in with the rest of the DCU. We know he's been active since before JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, which takes place five years ago. There's that bit of the unknown as to how long Barry's been active. This isn't the Barry we knew before and that's okay. As hard as I try to focus on the wonderful stories of the present, I can't help but wonder what has gone on before and since JUSTICE LEAGUE. Is Barry still a member of the league now?
The resolution of Manuel and Mob Rule left me a little unsure. Some bits and changes felt as if they happened too suddenly. I'll have to see where this story goes to if and when they're readdressed.
THE FLASH continues to be a beautiful and fun read. We're getting to know Barry Allen once again. He's getting new abilities but doesn't have the time to fully explore them due to constantly trying to save lives. We're seeing there is a lot more to the Speed Force than we saw before and Barry has some major decisions and obstacles to overcome. Because many of the "New 52" books have a separate feel in order to allow each to flourish and develop on its own, you also get a sense of isolation from the rest of the DCU. Flash is a part of the Justice League and has appeared in CAPTAIN ATOM and THE DARK KNIGHT but it doesn't feel like this Flash is the same. Manapul and Buccellato's art and colors is so good to look at, it almost makes you cry. You'll find yourself pausing and taking in all the detail on each page and in the backgrounds. There's a lot happening here and the stage is being set for the next arc in big ways.