Points to the team for getting this out in two weeks to at least conclude before Rebirth, but that’s really the only thing to get excited about this by-the-numbers wrap of a pretty weak storyline about the Riddler trying to take Central City from under the Flash and the Rogues with Heat Wave as his nuclear hostage and an army of drones that never do anything except hover around and die.

Although the last issue ended on the cliffhanger of The Flash being in Riddler’s clutches, it’s hard to work up any enthusiasm or fear any actual stakes in this book, which seriously makes it read more like a throwback issue to the late 1980s (a particularly garish color job from Guy Major doesn’t help matters either–the use of fuchsia or magenta in comic books should really be permanently banned).

To his credit, writer Van Jensen ties up all the threads in this conclusion titled appropriately “Full Stop”: Riddler’s hold the city, Heat Wave’s precarious situation as a living bomb, Trickster’s feud with the rest of the Rogues (and the bomb he has implanted in his wrist), Glider’s coma, Wally’s…oh wait, we see Wally break a drone on page 5 and then never see him again.

Oh well. Interestingly enough, the first time I read through the book I never even noticed that his storyline just sort of abruptly ended there.

Meanwhile, a lot of bizarrely convenient things like this happen:

Flash_52_01

Riddler: I’ll just leave you two while I go do…something.

Not only does the action not track well here, but Riddler gets distracted by the alert that a speedster is destroying his drones (Wally). Instead of commanding the other drones to open fire, he concludes that Barry is clearly an imposter, and Police Captain Frye helps his escape. Not that he needed much help since obviously Riddler was just keeping him in a garage without any security and then walked out and left the door open?

Ugh.

This is a Flash comic, so let’s just keep moving.

Trickster approached the Rogues, but he’s persona non grata to Captain Cold on account of Glider, so they start to quarrel, but Flash arrives and clears everything up by explaining that the Riddler was using Trickster, Heat Wave is alive, and conveniently disassembling and recalibrating Trickster’s arm in record time (literally one panel).

I sighed as I turned the page.

Glider is conveniently restored after that reverse-engineering job reverses her condition with a second blast. Sure, why not?

In the meantime, Riddler is out looking for this “real” Flash while his drones are wrecking havoc, but deliberately not actually hurting anyone.

Lamest villain ever.

Flash combines his efforts with Pied Piper and the Rogues and in nonsensical plot moment #Icouldn’tbebotheredtocount, Riddler calls all his drones to the scene. Instead of, you know, leaving them all over the city and actually killing people to split the team up or, you know, something that would actually make sense.

Riddler decides that Trickster needs to die and activates his arm bomb to go off.

Let’s take a moment to think this through.

Riddler convinced Trickster to do his dirty work by holding him hostage with an arm bomb that actually has a counter with at least 5 seconds on it.

  • Why would anyone put a counter on a death-bomb of this nature?
  • Okay, let’s say Riddler liked the idea of Trickster knowing he’s about to die.
  • But Trickster can take the arm off. And, you know, throw in the ocean or something.
  • Apparently not. He is a slave to a completely removable bomb which The Flash just reverse engineered some biotech nonsense on.
  • Hey, Trickster, how about: “Look Flash, there’s a bomb; take off my arm and go detonate it somewhere safe–better not to have an arm than be Riddler’s slave, no? Or dead?

But none of that happens because Trickster needs that bomb as a plot point to rescue Heat Wave, which he does without somehow managing to blow himself up.

I’m not even going to conjecture how that works, but it’s at least drawn very well by Jesus Merino, who does some overall nice work throughout this book.

Flash_52_02

It’s nonsensical, but it is occasionally pretty to look at

I feel like there’s no point belaboring this. It’s not a good book and Flash taking down the Riddler is pretty silly since there’s no actual tension or serious threat (even Pied Piper’s rats manage to take out these useless drones (see image above).

Again, Merino’s artwork does a lot of good toward increasing the point count on this one. At least the art is generally consistent even if Barry looks occasionally constipated (especially in the opening scene). There’s definitely some nice framing and Merino manages panel layouts well given there’s so much clutter with all the characters he needs to squeeze in. And even so, the action generally has enough room to breathe.

At the end, Flash literally “collars” Riddler and delivers him to the Police Captain, who apologies for vilifying Flash and tells him everything is now square between them. It’s about Scooby-Doo level tidy and literally ends with Flash grinning like an idiot and running while Central City citizens cheer and snap pictures.

Pictures of what? Maybe a red streak. How would they even have ride to register he was zipping by, let alone be able to raise their cell phone and snap a shot? Well, it’s the spirit that counts, right?

Recommended If…

  • You want to spend money on something you probably won’t enjoy reading.
  • You’re an insane person.
  • You like 80s comics.

Overall

I know I was pretty harsh in this review, but it’s really hard to know what they were thinking in terms of the story and writing for this one. There were stakes, but they weren’t exploited to any effective potential. There was action, but it was pretty unremarkable and predictable. And there was the Riddler in one of his dumber incarnations in the DCU.  Ironically, if this had been a Saturday morning cartoon, I’d’ve been gentler with is assuming it’s for a young audience and reading into it more broad characterizations and forgiving it its myriad sillinesses. But if Batman: the Animated Series taught us anything, it taught us that even children’s series can be sophisticated, and this is Flash’s signature title. It’s just too bad it ended on this dud of a tale. Go read Rebirth if you haven’t already. You’ll feel better.

SCORE: 4/10