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Subj: The Flash #27 - The Many Death's Of....
Posted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 at 12:13:41 pm BST (Viewed 386 times)
Filled with a level of forced melodrama and every page bleeding a broiling angst that makes the best of the New-52's miserability mandate proud the concluding part of Joshua Williamson's latest war against The Reverse-Flash comes to its conclusion, with the long building tension between Barry Allen and Iris West also arriving at its unfortunate but logical terminus.
A spectacular brawl between an enraged Flash pushed too far and the for once overwhelmed Eobard Thawne will please action fans, largely thanks to the kinetic artwork of guest-artist Paul Pelletier, and while the content and fury of the latest battle between opposing Flashes is no different to any other modern meeting between the two there does nevertheless come some satisfaction in finally seeing Barry Allen taking charge and going on the initiative against his dangerous foe. As simple and basic as the drive of this man from the far future is it is also a comprehensible motivation that can be understood by the reader and to some degree even emphasised with - for who wouldn't dream of the life of The Flash? Clearly Thawne's was never a happy life, no prospects in front of him he took an escape in looking to the past and others, and fixated on the memory aand legend of Barry Allen:The Flash. An escapist tact rapidly developing into an all-consuming obsession, and ending in hatred after rejection. As warped as he becomes the characterisation is not at all an unfamiliar fact of life even today, Eobard Thawne - the stalker of your nightmares. Or certainly Barry Allen's Nightmares.
But the torment comes in Barry Allen's gradual awareness that this maan who was once considered just another villain from the future was indeed something more disturbing a figure, the stalker who was creeping through the tapestry of his life and selectively targeting aspects of it for ruination. That Barry has gained only a vague awareness of how extensive this time-travelling terror's campaign against him has been makes the fear of it all the more ingrained, for Thawne is the man who cannot be stopped. Indeed as Barry has learned even recently Thawne seemingly cannot die. Always returning when unexpected and always the fear that whatever misfortunes occur in his life it might be Thawne who is orchestrating the misery.
In these terms and context then there is not a Super-Villain in comics who is quite as dangerous or disturbing as The Reverse-Flash, even as far back as the mid 1970s the character was developing into what we see today, but went by largely unnoticed thanks to the perceptions of the Flash as a title and the relative unimportance of the stock villain that The Reverse-Flash was seen to be. But in opting to embrace the full history of the character and the many stories he appeared in since his 1963 debut Joshua Williamson adds to his threat considerably as here is a terror who extends well past the limited awareness of The Flash and his many breaks and revisions in history. Even as the terrified and bewildered Iris Allen seemingly executes the finally defenceless and defeated Thawne we are already well aware that this is death #3 at the very least and surely of no more lasting a development than any of his others. Time, destiny, and the Speedforce, being ever on Thawne's side...
Threading through these recycling drama's though is still Iris Allen. Clueless as to Barry Allen's secret life the simmering tension between the two finally leads to a situation where the secret comes to endanger Iris and the blame is cast onto Barry Allen for maintaining the secret in the first place.
It's a hard revisiting and examination of the realities of superher secret identities that, today, could only really be done in The Flash, so few superhero books still carry on the secret identity tradition that the advantages and disadvantages of the central character of the book have been sadly lost. Williamson's scenario, the position of Iris as the victim of sad mean circumstance, is not entirely a convincing one it must be said. Here is a woman who has had her own secrets and a close relative who turned into a super-villain, she has just executed a defeated and helpless prisoner, but terrorised by The Reverse-Flash and caught in a world and a situation sshe can barely comprehend, yet alone manage, the culminating point this issue is an emotive one for both characters. Barry's life leaves little room for easy explanation, with a time-travelling stalker like Thawne being an ever-present danger in itself it is understandable that he would be reluctant to burden Iris with such knowledge, nor the pressures of being aware that he was secretly working as The Flash and the dangers of being privy to that knowledge. Yet having reached this crossroads the question now stretching in front us both readers and Iris West is where does this dramatic exposing leave us? She knows now. But Barry Allen, as mean as his secrecy was, is no villain. As terrible as the consequences have been good intentions were at his heart, and now she knows the secret, one of only a handful who do in fact. Does the responsibility of that privileged knowledge inform and strengthen her loyalty to him or does a more selfish impulse take ahold...?
The murder of a powerless man would certainly have a profound effect on the character of Iris Allen going forward, and in light of his own admittance on his methods one has to suspect that this was quite possibly the actual reasoning and manipulation of the wily Eobard Thawne. As the story ends with a lonely Barry Allen retreating to his darkened crime labs one wonders whether he too has realised this this ongoing reality, that the terror and persecution of The Reverse-Flash in his life will never end...
There is nothing at all in the modern version of The Flaash to suggest that .Iris West knows anything of her deeper past, in fact this Iris West is presumably not even the same character coming as the original did from the 30th century originally, but The Reverse-Flash has teased her with his knowledge of this past that she no longer experienced and we know that in some confused and uncertain way that barry Allen too remembers something of that now forgotten history all three of them share. And so as the latest meeting between these arch-rivals draws to its close we can be forgiven for finding obvious irony in the sight of the formerly powerless Iris taking an unexpected stand after being seen as mere spectator to Thawne's tormenting of Barry Allen and his weaknesses, and her unilaterally ending his potential for further actions by executing him in that 25th century museum. The context has intentional irony and parallels to previous history after all. And yet unaddressed as yet lies the actual reason why Iris took that action, why kill a powerless Reverse-Flash? There is no reason the believe that she has any real awareness of understanding of the history Thawne alludes to between the two, the conclusion then can be made that contrary to appearances it isn't pain or revulsion she feels towards Allen but rather an expression of her true feelings towards him... having listened on to Thawne's threats and continual terrorising of Barry Allen she takes the firm stance to end this and protect not just herself, but Barry Allen's future as well.
What might seem a selfish act at first glance is surely then a more profound gesture. The shame of Iris' selflessness however is that we know this story never ends, The Reverse-Flash will always return. An endless cycle of torment for all three played out for what may be eternity...
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