Barry Allen’s life is a shambles – romantically, professionally and in his secret life as The Fastest Man Alive… The Flash!
Barry’s girlfriend, Iris West, might not be his girlfriend anymore. She hasn’t spoken to him since his secret identity was revealed to her by his arch-enemy, Eobard Thawne. The battle with The Reverse Flash which followed this revelation ended with Barry just barely escaping the trap that Thawne had set for him with The Speed Force – the otherworldly realm of pure energy that empowers them both.
That freedom came with a price, however, and Barry is now drawing off of the negative pole of The Speed Force. Barely able to control his speed now, Barry’s every quickened step releases destructive vibrations that shake the ground under his feet. Worse yet, using his powers now leaves Barry feeling drained, both physically and mentally, making the usually upbeat and hopeful Barry Allen feel constantly depressed.
This attitude hasn’t helped Barry at work, where Barry was assigned to a secret taskforce charged with finding a dirty cop tampering with evidence. Now officially on the Captain’s last nerve for his continuing absence and refusal to work with his partners, only Barry’s years of good service are preventing him from being fired!
Somehow, things are about to get worse. A new Rogue called Bloodwork has revealed himself and a horrifying power unlike any The Flash has ever encountered before. How can The Flash overcome an enemy who can turn Barry’s own body against him, armed with powers that Barry can’t fully trust?!
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This first chapter of Bloodwork is written in the same vein (pun very much intended) as the classic Flash comics of The Silver Age, with a new villain smack-dab in the middle of the cover and alliterative text urging the prospective buyer to pick up the book. This seems ironic, given that Bloodwork, from his name to his costume to his concept, seems to be born of the Dark Age aesthetic. Of course the phrase “macabre murderer” seems quite appropriate to both eras.
Joshua Williamson’s script balances these contrasts well enough. He also does a fantastic job of subtly portraying Barry’s newfound depression, depicting Barry as increasingly secretive and paranoid. Given that depressives in comics are usually only portrayed as being miserable jerks or suicidal loners, it’s refreshing to see the condition being shown in a more accurate light in addition to it creating a new, relatable angle in regards to The Flash’s altered powers.
Neil Googe’s artwork isn’t quite up to the same standard. There is little consistency between individual panels, with Barry going from looking like John Wesley Shipp with blonde hair in one close-up to suddenly having a thin, elongated face with a pointed chin in the next. Many of Googe’s character expressions just look odd, with a shouting Barry Allen looking look he is about to unhinge his jaw to swallow a live pig, as his eyeballs attempt to escape his head.
The artwork isn’t bad enough to distract from the story completely, but it does render some scenes looking goofier than was intended. Despite this, The Flash #30 is a fine jumping-on issue for new readers and those fans of The Flash TV series looking for a good place to start reading the source material.
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.