Flash vs. The Riddler, who ya got? Most would say The Flash, but the last issue seemed to suggest the Riddler is going to kill him easy peasy. Is it good?
Flash #52 (DC Comics)
The official DC summary of this issue reads:
The Riddler has seized control of Central City. If The Flash moves, he’ll put everyone he loves in mortal danger. To save the city—and himself—he’ll need help from the unlikeliest of allies.
Why does this book matter?
This is our last pre Rebirth Flash stories so we might as well soak it in because things could be changing quite a bit soon. There are going to be more Flashes anyway, so better to soak in Barry while he’s center stage!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
While I’m still unconvinced the stakes were ever raised enough for Flash to turn himself in and even take off his mask to reveal his identity this issue effectively brings a solid conclusion to the Riddler story. Flash gets some much needed help from the Rogues and their teamwork is a site to see. New developments with two of Flash’s villains brings their stories forward a bit too. Writer Van Jensen also manages to clean up the whole identity reveal bit in a somewhat clever way.
This plan seems rocky.
The art by Jesus Merino is quite good this issue – better than the last – with Flash and the Rogues looking particularly sharp. The clothing is particularly detailed, especially in Captain Cold’s costume – and Flash looks great too. The explosions and electricity flowing off Flash look vibrant. Maybe I’m crazy but I got some Neal Adams vibes with a few panels too – maybe it’s the tight inking – but there’s definitely an old school vibe in some of these panels.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Once again I can’t understand why Flash would give up so easily. To make matters worse the issue opens with Flash on his knees grimacing as a guillotine is about to chop his head off. I mean, seriously DC? You’ve roughly turned Flash into a complete coward who gives up in this two issue story arc. While its fun to see him get help from the Rogues I’m not sure that helps his cause either. The threat the Riddler poses is a real one, but I can’t shake the feeling there are a hundred ways Flash could resolve this pesky issue in a much faster and cleaner way.
It’s nice to see Wally again since we’ll be seeing a lot more of him soon, but his inclusion in this issue is laughable at best. He claims he can’t watch Flash die, but then proceeds to do a rather minimal thing that somehow works. I’m not sure how he knows his actions will actually help Flash and there’s no way of him knowing if it worked either. It does, of course, but we don’t see Wally again so you have to assume he assumed it worked. How heroic of you. On top of that the fact that The Riddler falls for it makes him look like a buffoon.
Why do you look so scared Flash?
The book ends in a rather cheesy way too – much like Neal Adam’s current Coming of the Supermen series – as Flash dispels the villain’s weapons in a single splash page. The splash looks great, but I don’t think it conveys just how many robots he’d have to destroy to beat The Riddler. It all ends from there with Flash grinning like an idiot and going for a run. It’s so darn cheesy I did a double take, but heck maybe some folks like their comics like this.
Ultimately The Riddler is underused or maybe even misused in this two part story too. For a guy calling himself The Riddler he’s rather lacking with the riddles. He’s basically a bad guy controlling drones whose entire motivation is to just show the world he can beat a bad guy. Stick any villain in this role – though make sure they’re brainless and lacking with aspirations – and it’d work. For a comic using a rather clever villain it’s sorely lacking clever writing/scenarios.
Is It Good?
Flash #52 manages to ameliorate the last issue’s gaffes with some exciting hero-villain team up action. I can’t say Flash or the Riddler come off as very strong or interesting though, but if you like classic superhero stories you’ll dig this.