The Flash isn’t the only hero in this epic conclusion!
New forces of power have appeared in Central City. After The Flash War, Barry has been left to investigate the Strength and Sage Forces. During his investigation, Axel Walker, the Trickster, gets taken by the Strength Force and is empowered by it. The Flash works to take down the now hulking Trickster alongside future renegade, Commander Cold. During their fight, Barry notices his Speed Force connection affects the Strength Force. Agreeing to stop fighting until they learn more, Trickster is taken back to Iron Heights to examine his power. Under the eyes of the corrupt Warden Wolfe, the Flash tries to separate Axel with the ability, only to gain the Strength Force himself. With two hulking meta-humans at the center of Central City’s prison, what could go wrong?
**Some Spoilers Below**
As Barry regains his bearings after his transformation, Cold turns on him. Seeing as both him and Trickster as threats, he tries to put them down. While the metas fight each other, Wolfe uses this opportunity to try and kill Trickster as well. Before any blood is shed, The Flash learns that the Strength Force can also manipulate gravity. Using that power, he’s able to disarm Cold and Wolfe but only makes Trickster angrier.
The downside of this issue has to be the pace. It all goes by so quickly; you have to read it a second time to make sure you didn’t miss any details.
That being said, this manages to be one of the best Flash issues I’ve read in a long while. This is not due to our titular hero but our young rogue Trickster. During the conflict, a wing of Iron Heights threatens to crush the Rogues. Despite having a chance to escape, Trickster keeps the building up as his strength fades. The Flash promises to come back for him, but Trickster knows his time is up. He keeps it up just long enough to make sure his friends are safe.
This act brings the character of Axel Walker full circle. Since the beginning of the New 52 timeline, this version of the Trickster was the butt of the joke. He acted like a little brother who wanted to play with his older brother and his friends. Axel would be pushed around by every antagonist, but when he had the power, he chose to save them. The Trickster has the heart of a hero, and it made the comic so much better.
The art is a mixed bag for this conclusion. While there are plenty of fantastic designs by Christian Duce and colors by Luis Guerrero, there is a factor that pulls it down. The ink work went a bit overboard, and it makes the characters look terrifying. In the case of the angry, hulking Trickster, this works; it makes the threat more dangerous looking. When the ink work makes Commander Cold look sickly in some panels, it’s a sign to rein it in. There are some great illustrations, especially in the climax, but it’s just short of being fantastic.
This was a phenomenal end to the arc and just a great issue of The Flash. It has emotion; it has action, it’s just an amazing comic. I highly recommend this arc, and I can’t wait to see where we go next.