Negative is an average tier book that succeeds in some places and falls on its face in others.
Flash Volume 5: Negative actually has a fitting name to describe how I feel about this volume. It’s basically the Spider-Man symbiote story but done in a worse way. It makes Barry into Spider-Man 3 Peter Parker where he’s moody all the time and is destructive. Bloodwork was a cool new villain that’ll probably never get used again. The art throughout the volume is the best part honestly.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
It’s a bleak new day as the citizens of Central City meet Negative-Flash! Barry Allen’s personal life is in shambles, his new Negative-Flash powers aren’t working properly, and someone has been tampering with evidence at the Central City Police Department. The Flash is not having a good day, and it’s going to get worse when he comes face to face with Bloodwork, a terrifying new villain with secret ties to Barry Allen. Collects THE FLASH #28-32.
Tell me about it!
Williamson manages to nail it with Bloodwork’s backstory. While the name is certainly on the nose, since his powers are based on his blood, it actually makes some sense as to how he started. He has an interesting tie to Barry in that he works with him and it’s fun to see how even Barry isn’t sure what he’s capable of.
The artwork within issue 31 is stunning to look at; the first half of the issue is drawn by the previous issue’s artist, Neil Googe, during Barry’s costumed confrontation with Bloodwork, while the second half is drawn by Gus Vazquez with colors by Ivan Plascencia. The smooth lines of Googe during the confrontation give the veins attacking the city a snakelike quality as the colors by Plascencia complement them with a primary palette of reds, grays and purples. The time when Barry is overcome with the Negative Speed Force brings on a gray hue to Barry’s skin and contrasts to the much lighter coloring of Barry when he’s with a clear mind. The coloring for the second half in Vazquez’ art uses a lot more blue hues on the much more angular lines that are used. The art style works well for the out of costume segment and shows emotions on many of the characters’ faces well.
The status shift of Barry’s new place of work being Iron Heights was a great move especially given Barry’s struggle with the negative Speedforce. It places him in a hostile environment that is quite unfamiliar to him while he is also dealing with problems on what to do with his powers. Williamson also has Barry helping Wally with his powers while still showing there’s a divide between the two. The final 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 set 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 short Christmas special at the end is both sad but heartwarming at the same time. It’s sad because Wally is all alone but Happy for why Barry isn’t there. It all builds to the heartwarming ending.