There appears to be a new era dawning in The Flash series and it’s taking Barry Allen and Iris West out of Central City and onto a new adventure. But to get to that point, first, we must explore the conclusion of the psychological battle that Dr Burns and the Scarlet Speedster are stuck in with Heatwave. The final chapter of the ‘Faster Than Thought’ arc is perhaps the deepest look at the mental health of Heatwave and the issues that Allen has been struggling with since both Wallys left.
The Flash #57 opens with a strong metaphor for the Flash as he becomes lost in a maze of Heatwave’s design. The maze is both symbolic of the struggles Allen has had as of late in knowing what direction to move forward in and the complex mind of Mr Rory, who has been struggling with his mental health for quite some time. Both are trapped to varying degrees and this visualisation is a perfect representation of this. Indeed, Mick himself admits he died the day that his family did, suggesting his soul was never quite the same once he had committed that initial deadly crime. It’s the Sage Force that seems to have rescued him in some way, although filling him with a false sense of completion.
As I had previously theorised, it is Iris’s continued exploration of her memories that have saved the day, with the knowledge of the mysterious forces stored in her mind. A well foreshadowed, although unexpected, use of the subplot, it’s good to see the Iris character well used here. This allows Commander Cold to enter Mr Rory’s mind himself. Whilst this is a nice nod to the Earth 1 version of the character, it is also a continued look at the mental state of the arsonist who does have someone to genuinely rely on, a brother outside of his actual relatives.
Symbolic of many mental health struggles, Cold reminds Heatwave that it is him that controls the fire, the fire never controls him. It is very apparent that Mick waking up without his scars is strong imagery of a man who is healing and moving forward in life, the burdens of his past leaving him.
Flash too must face the reality of a past he has tried to escape from and make some genuinely new moves in order to build upon everything he has learnt. He has remained stationary for so long that the best thing to do is to move rapidly in a new direction, out of Central City and onto a Speed Quest, one which had previously been discussed by the other Flashes. With a renewed respect for Cold and Iris at his side, Allen is accepting those around him and looking to better himself and his understanding of his new place in the multiverse.
The Flash #57 is quite a deep issue that looks at mental health and the struggles of change. The series has built up to all the threads in this chapter really well and there appears to be a fresh take on The Flash world coming up, with the changing status quo being embraced for some new adventures.
The artwork here managed to capture some of the emotions dealt with in the writing, even adding to some of the symbolic imagery in an excellent way. The Flash #57 may just be the best conclusion to a strong arc in quite a while.
The Flash #57
A moving exploration of mental health and change, this issue juggled a lot whilst still becoming an exciting push towards something new.