Barry Allen must finally come to terms with the fact that his city is changing around him and he must either adapt or fall behind in The Flash #52. Perhaps even the Flash isn’t quick enough to keep up with everything that is happening; although, accepting the help of those around him might be the key to his evolution. Even those around him have changed drastically and for Barry it’s proving more difficult to accept their help and continue to protect his beloved city.
The issue starts with Barry reuniting all the speedsters of the Multiverse, in the hope that one would have the answers to his questions surrounding the new forces that have emerged and the breakdown of the Speed Force. Whilst a fun beginning bringing back some familiar and less so faces, it also sets out the theme for the rest of the issue. These speedsters offer their very useful advice, only for Barry to ignore it, claiming that they don’t understand his situation. This is the attitude he takes throughout the issue, seeing everyone as an inconvenience when they are trying to change how Barry wants to go about things.
The biggest blockade to Flash’s desired path is Commander Cold, the Renegade from the future that is trapped in the 21st century after the Speed Force collapsed. A hero in his own right and a trained cop, the Flash can’t quite deal with the fact that there is a new protector in his city, trying to undermine his experience as best as possible.
The problems that arise in this issue surrounds the Trickster. Going to the police to report abuse from Warden Wolfe, Trickster is apprehended by the Para-Angels, hired wings to silence the Rogue from revealing the abuse he has endured. Of course, the Flash comes to the rescue, with Commander Cold quick to follow, throwing Barry off his plan and allowing the Trickster to escape. Upon his escape, however, he is taken by the Strength Force, with the transformation into a Trickster/Bane-type combo capping off the issue. Elsewhere, Iris is still struggling with her memories, something that Barry is incapable of coming to terms fully with. Her memories of their marriage in particular are strong and we’ll see whether that lays the groundwork for some future issues.
The artwork captured the frenzied spirit of Trickster and the kinetic energy of the Flash. The writers here do a great job of using the supporting case efficiently, whilst also bringing in both obscure and fan-favourite villains. The use of the Forces are also unexpected, with each one likely seeing up a new challenge as we move through the series. The showdown with the Trickster that is coming is a different turn for the character, usually relying on his tricks rather than his brawn. A great twist as issue 53 promises to be a slice of something new. The Flash #52, however, continues to deal with the subtleties of the characters effectively and the themes of change, with the super heroics and Flash rogues’ gallery still on full display. This is therefore an effective and vibrant tale.