The Flash #32 is the start of a new status quo of Barry Allen working at Iron Heights Penitentiary.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“Welcome to Iron Heights.” It’s Barry Allen’s first day on the job at Iron Heights Penitentiary, and it does NOT go very well as Warden Wolfe proves to be an even more demanding boss than Director Singh at the CCPD Crime Lab! And to top it all off, a ghost from Flash’s past comes back to haunt him!
Why does this change matter?
Barry has been working in the crime lab for nearly the entirety of his character’s history (since his first appearance back in October 1956 within the pages of Showcase #4) and has only once ever had a different job, a short stint as a bartender during Manapul’s New 52 run. This status quo shift places him into a job position that he has never had to deal with before in a place where he has previously only sent villains to.
So what about the issue — can be considered good?
First of all the status shift with Barry’s new place of work is a great move especially with the current events with the character within the pages of Flash and Barry’s struggle with the negative Speedforce. It places him in a hostile environment that is quite unfamiliar to him while he’s also dealing with problems on what to do with his powers. Williamson also draws on Barry helping Wally with his powers while still showing there’s a divide between the two. The issue also has the return of the Rogues who are present within the prison and August Heart, AKA Godspeed, who has been in prison since his last appearance at the end of the current run’s first arc. Almost all of Barry’s Rogues can be seen in a page spread where Heatwave is fighting August and includes both the regular Rogues as well as other characters such as Murmur, Tar Pit and Girder. The writing sets up how secure the warden has made Iron Heights since Thawne escaped prior to The Button and how harshly the prison treats its inmates.
The art by Christian Duce is great to look at and he draws every character so they individually stand out from each other. His two page introductory spread to Iron Heights gives the prison a dark and scary horror-movie-vibe complete with a haunted mansion, which really makes it feel like it’s the last place on Earth anybody would want to be.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The divide Barry has with Wally and Iris is still feeling rather dragged out and feels as if it could be resolved already. With the current happenings with Wally it’s surprising that he wouldn’t try and mend things with his mentor so he has someone to rely on outside of Defiance.