After the emotional events of two weeks ago, we take a break from the tragedy of the Bat Family for a Flash-centric issue in which we explore Barry Allen’s conflict with being part of Superman’s imperial Regime. Last we saw of the Flash, he rescued Batman from being arrested (even though he had pulverized Superman in the process). Needless to say, Superman is not pleased.
Digital Firsts No. 27 & No. 28, “Barry” & “Taking Sides” gives us a long overdue look into the mindset of at least one of the former Justice Leaguers who has been committed to supporting Superman’s increasingly sadistic reign. And Brian Buccellato does an excellent job taking us back before we move forward: looking briefly at Barry Allen’s relationship with Iris West and revisiting some key moments from Year One to build up that foundation of how things began and how they have devolved.
When Flash runs from a fight with Superman over his traitorous handling of the Batman situation, he seeks out Iris for comfort and counsel. She has no comfort for him, however: and rightfully accuses him of betraying everything he’s ever stood for. Counsel, on the other hand, she has plenty of: stand up to Superman as he promised.
Five years ago: when there was still hope
He gets the opportunity to make a decision once and for all when Iris and her cohorts (who are apparently part of an underground non-super Resistance in some as-yet-unidentified fashion), are accosted by Girder and King Shark–two more of Superman’s villain-turned-police.
Flash attempts to intervene and accidentally deepens the pit he’s found himself in when, in an effort to protect Iris, he kills one of the assailants. This does not please Iris–it, in fact, makes her point: the Superman Squad is just a bunch of murderers.
Horrified, the Flash whisks Iris away.
And here’s where it gets really interesting. Because the next thing we see is a penitent Flash returning to Superman with Girder and their captives (including Iris). Just how much double-crossing can the Flash do in the span of a day, you ask?
The answer comes in a flashback to the Flash’s rescue of Batman. Because Batman always has a plan. This one is half-cocked and dangerous and the Flash originally refused to be a part of it, but things have changed; Flash has changed. He’s seen what he’s become through Iris’ eyes and it looks like he’s willing to do whatever it takes to undo this terrible mess that they have gotten themselves into.
The here and now: decidedly darker
Tom Derenick is on art this go-round. While I think he over-uses the close “upshot” throughout during conversations, his action sequences are top-notch, and frankly, he does a far better job overall of handling what could otherwise be static discussions by keeping his angles dramatic. One particular panel of Flash and Iris on a rooftop overlooking the coastline along the city is especially nice.
My single criticism of the art (and you’re going to laugh) is that Iris West is wearing something straight out of a 70s Brave and the Bold: that weird patterned blouse thing, the jacket, the full skirt. I was tempted to try to hunt down a matching picture (if I could have found one close enough, I would have given this an extra point instead of making this a criticism), but a quick search for Iris West primarily yields images of Candice Patton because of the current Flash series. Ah well. It was just a funny thing that crossed my mind.
- You love the Flash: it’s all-Flash, all-the-time here!
- You want to see a cool villain get killed way too soon by someone other than Superman. While this was right for the story, I think Buccellato picked the wrong villain to do in. If I’d had my druthers, I would have taken out the other guy (he’s less interesting).
- Hating on Superman has become a fun past time (he’s so awful here).
Injustice is going places (and not just to Central City!). With the Flash now a focal point and his relationship with Batman (and Batman’s policies) stronger than ever, it looks like the Superman Regime is in for a startling surprise. It appears that Barry Allen has possibly agreed to help Batman attempt to “reset” the past so that they can get the world back to the way it’s supposed to be. The Flash has been torn apart by what the Regime has done to his friends for a long time, but his confidence isn’t 100%. Has his experience with Iris tipped the scales far enough? Has Superman’s own threat to kill the Flash finally toppled the scale? And what are the odds that the Flash can actually make a difference? Is Injustice about to have its own Flashpoint?