What is this all about?
In this issue, The Flash gets used to a whole new set of powers now that he’s connected to the negative speed force. Barry is confronted with the consequences that his previous choices have had on work relationships. Director Singh questions his commitment to the team and whether he can trust him on a very important case. Barry is under duress and wants to talk to Iris about it, but he can’t.
The Flash’s connection to the speed force has always been a protection for Barry. However, his new connection is less predictable and sometimes has negative effects. While he used to become physically tired and require extra nourishment to re-energize, now he gets absolutely exhausted and drained by his connection to the speed force.
This issue is about Barry facing the consequences of prioritizing The Flash over his family and his career. Also, he must learn how to use his new powers and fix the damages they cause to things around him when he uses them.
The story begins with The Flash confronting a new threat; The Road Reapers, who are a group of petty thieves. The lighting surrounding The Flash as he runs is clearly black, demonstrating the lingering impacts of his confrontation with Thawne. The Flash notices new powers that he’s developed since connecting to the negative speed force. Bullets dissolve before they touch him, and the black lightning exuding from his body causes things to start on fire and explode.
The Flash looks back and observes the wake of destruction left in his path. This wake of destruction is captured beautifully through the art which depicts a path littered with images of burning pavement, destroyed cars, and charred buildings. Barry’s words capture the emotional pain he feels as a result of his prior choices:
“Thawne was right, I hurt everything I touch”.
The art and the narrative reframe The Flash’s current reality for the reader. At this point, the Flash is a potential danger to others until he learns how to use his new powers. The art effectively shows black sparks flying from The Flash and his face wearing the negative aura caused by his new connection to the speed force.
Barry is depicted as sluggish and hot, at times, slumped over. At one point he reflects, “I hate being hot.” These moments of disarray show themselves throughout the middle of the book to communicate how “off” Barry is and feels.
Barry takes heat from colleagues who have nicknamed him “The Turtle.” “You’re a good CSI when you show up,” says a co-worker. Director Singh tells Barry that he is one of the best CSI’s he’s ever worked with when his head is in the game. He challenges Barry to be a team player. The art vividly depicts the emotional experiences of Barry and Singh. The dialogue is pointed, allowing the reader to sympathize with Barry’s position.
Barry spends much of this issue focused on the loss of Iris and how Thawne destroyed his life. He is isolated and has no one he can talk to about his struggles. The art depicts Barry as a blackened, shadowy figure; hot, and hiding out as he walks through the crowded CPD office.
The conflicts with The Road Reapers come as a welcome distraction, pulling the reader out of the negative funk and reminding us of how much we love it when The Flash is doing good. The story effectively demonstrates how entangled Barry has become in the negative Speed Force. The dilemma of losing the trust of coworkers and Iris feels real. The full impact of Barry’s connection to the negative speed force has yet to be revealed.
Barry is uncertain about his future and he feels vulnerable, angry, and lost. How will The Flash adjust to his negative connection to the speed force? Will he break free and regain connections to close relationships and friends? Most importantly, can he reclaim a connection to the speed force not replicating Thawne’s connection to the negative speed force? I look forward to seeing how The Flash breaks free from this all-encompassing challenge.
Reviewed by Tom Zimm
The Flash #28 Negative Pt. I
Written by Writers Joshua Williamson
Art by: Carmine Di Giandomenico, Art; Steve Wands, Letters; Hi-Fi, Colors;
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: 08/09/2017