The Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen

Plot: After Hunter Zoloman a.k.a Zoom attacks the Flash’s wife Linda West and causes the loss of her and Wally’s baby, the Flash is helped by the Spectre (Hal Jordan). The Spectre helps Flash to reclaim his secret identity to protect his wife from future attacks by erasing the whole world’s memory of Wally West ever being the Flash. Even Wally forgot that he was the Flash until Batman revealed to him that he was Bruce Wayne. At that moment, all of Wally’s memories of being the Flash came flooding back. With everyone except Batman ignorant of Wally being Flash, Wally has to decide who to share his secret with and re-establish old ties. The memories prove too much for Linda and she disappears leaving Wally to battle the Rogues and search for his wife before any harm comes her way. Confused and vulnerable, Flash also has to deal with a revelation via a letter from his former mentor, Barry Allen. This new information leaves Wally stunned and questioning his role as a super-hero.

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Howard Porter & Livesay
Colourist: James Sinclair
Letterers: Nick J. Napolitano Rob Leigh Pat Brosseau

This release combines the events of Flash #207-211, 213-217. It is “cross-over heavy” and draws mostly from Identity Crisis. The narrative moves across a vast array of sub-plots and focuses on many characters good and bad. Johns manages to constantly bring it back to Flash and his role as husband, blue collar worker and super-hero. Johns also creates the most ambivalent bunch of baddies with the Rogues, they look out for their own the same way the League does and some of them may not be as terrible as we are led to believe. Flash is rewritten to show how he is his own hero unlike Batman or Superman, the scarlet one being more of an easy going character who has an accessibility that other heroes lack. The artwork is really good in parts but also rushed and inconsistent elsewhere. Flash is wonderfully depicted when he moves and the dullish but rich colours are very pleasing. The Secret of Barry Allen is not the most exciting of Johns releases as it is very much about inter-personal drama and questioning what it means to be a hero; nothing wrong there but after a while you get bored reading about a super-hero’s ups and downs and you want them to do what they do best, fight the bad guys and have classic tit-for-tats. Johns does pull the brakes enough to allow time for some action but you still endure quite a lot of reflection by a host of different characters. As a side note, Identity Crisis should be mandatory reading to prime one for this book.

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