The Flash, Volume 4: Reverse

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It took a little bit, but I'm finally starting to really like The Flash in DC's New 52 Universe. He has a new status quo, a new life, and a new love in Patty Spivot -- even though there's every indication that at some point in the future Barry Allen is destined to be with Iris West. He also has a new angle on his Speed Force powers, which play heavily into this fourth volume, "Reverse."

This new "Reverse Flash" character that Flash faces is not Eobard Thawne, but a new person who has ties to both Barry and Iris. Whereas the Flash has learned that his connection to the Speed Force also powers it -- in essence, his every movement is what keeps time moving in a forward direction -- this new speedster can utilize his powers to turn time backward. However, he doesn't have quite enough Speed Force energy to go back far enough to the point in history he really wants to affect. Thus, he must take it from those who have some essence of it, and goes on a killing spree of the handful of people who were recently trapped in the Speed Force and came out with some essence of it.

Francis Manapul's plot also touches on the Flash's personal albatross, the unsolved murder of his mother which was pinned on his father, as Barry struggles with the need to move forward while still being mired in the past. It's an important point, because Barry actually has the power to go into the past and change things, much the way the Reverse Flash found he could. What's more, it is precisely because Barry did this that we have the New 52 universe in the first place, as chronicled in the Flashpoint miniseries and associated spinoffs. That particular story was kicked off by the original Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne, who is still presumably out there somewhere. There's also the question of whether Barry's newfound connection is what keeps this universe moving forward -- and whether this means that Barry could move time "sideways" as well, resetting things to the original DC Universe at some point.

"Reverse" also sets up a confrontation between Flash and the New Teen Titan, Kid Flash, giving some very cryptic hints about his origins while establishing that his speed powers do not come from the Speed Force. The collection also wraps up with a Flash chapter "Zero Year," which finds Barry and Iris in Gotham City during the turmoil of that story, ending with them sharing an intimate moment that lends credence to the notion that Barry and Patty are not forever.

The Flash, Volume 4: Reverse is what a Flash story should be -- fast-paced, physics-based science fiction with an affable hero and plenty of teases of things to come.

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0