Previously on The Flash: Covering Issues #1 - #6
We begin by seeing Barry Allen out on a date with his coworker and love interest, Patty, at a Tech Symposium. Things seem to be going well until a group of armed, armored, and helmeted men break in to steal the Gen Recoder that’s on display. Barry finds a way to sneak out, transforms into the Flash, and spoils the robbery...but not without ending up falling off of the invaders’ helicopter and straight through the street, right into the sewers. It’s not until Barry returns to the scene in his civilian guise that he discovers one of the invaders—a guy unlucky enough to have met with Flash while attempting to escape—is really Manuel Lago, Barry’s oldest friend. Later on, back at his apartment, Manuel turns up—alive—and asks for Barry’s help as the armed invaders break into the place. Fleeing, Barry pretends to drown so he can transform into the Flash, and then comes smack into an entire crowd of Manuel look-a-likes, known as Mob Rule.
The Flash attempts to battle Mob Rule but must give up because reporter Iris West is being held captive. He lets the Manuel look-a-likes go and then makes sure Iris is safe before he speeds off again. Later on, he tries to find a way to make himself move faster, with the assistance of Dr. Elias; instead, he learns that he can actually tap into the Speed Force with just his mind. Not long afterwards, he’s able to stop a crime in progress by utilizing this ability, allowing him to see all possible outcomes and affect the situation to his will; however, hours later, while in the process of checking up on Manuel’s past associations, the Flash watches as the lights of the Gem Cities blink out due to a massive EMP—and looks up to see a plane falling from the sky toward him.
With very little time, the Flash runs up to the plane and vibrates its molecules through the bridge, allowing the aircraft to phase gently through the structure to land on the water in one piece. The next day, Dr. Elias tracks the EMP signature into the Badlands and is captured by Mob Rule. Meanwhile, Patty and Barry head to Keystone City to offer assistance...and end up running into more members of Mob Rule. Barry distracts them while Patty and Manuel escape, feeling as though his newfound mental powers can help...and he ends up getting shot.
It’s soon discovered that the Manuel clones of Mob Rule are actually regenerated limbs from when Manuel was tortured; his limbs were cut off, and new Manuels grew from them. Back in Central City, Iris West is being held captive by Captain Cold in Iron Heights Prison during the aftereffects of the EMP. Cold escapes, but leaves West “on ice” in his old cell. Eventually, she’s able to break out of the cell, but is soon accosted by the Folding Man and Girder as they attempt to escape the prison, as well. Across town, a riot is about to break out on the Gem City Bridge until the Flash zips in—having survived the bullet by vibrating it through his head—with emergency supplies and an assurance that the bridge is safe to cross. He then quickly saves Iris—or rather assists her as she beats up the two criminals with ferociousness—and goes off to try and save Manuel and Dr. Elias from Mob Rule once again. However, during his attempt, he ends up causing a vortex that sends an explosion into the past, which is what caused the massive EMP earlier. Manuel survives, but blames Elias and the Flash for allowing all of Mob Rule to die, meanwhile, the Flash is rocked by the news that the Speed Force is causing time rifts.
Now armed with the knowledge that his powers are causing time-and-space to ripple across history, Flash attempts to monitor his energy output, so it doesn’t create more rifts; however, right at this time is when Captain Cold decides to seek his revenge for the soon-to-be death of his sister (who cannot survive due to the EMP). The two battle it out, and the Flash fast approaches the critical limit for his energy output...just as Patty and several other civilians have their transport ship pulled into the freezing water.
Science & Superpowers: Many of my favorite superheroes use science to help them achieve their ends, regardless if they have superpowers or not; this includes Barry Allen. He may not completely understand all of his powers, but he uses his knowledge to create add-ons that allow him to function better—such as the hearing device allowing him to pick up conversation and noise while going at extreme speeds. He doesn’t just jump into action—though, he doesn’t shy away from it, either—but, instead, thinks about the best way to achieve his goals; he’s not all brute force.
Time Rifts: I really find this explanation of the Speed Force’s effects hard to swallow. The Flash has always been known as the fastest man alive (even though there has been more than one to use the moniker), and his speed powers are truly great to take in, but that he can create time rifts with his speed is just a little too much. I honestly believe that this is just a way for there to be an overreaching problem—much like the Green Lanterns have to recharge their power rings—that will continue to be a subplot factor throughout the title.
DC Cross-Connections: While I know DC is trying to make it so the New 52 titles are connected with each other extensively, I’m starting to dislike just how much of an effort they’re attempting to do it. Within the six issues of The Flash, I counted at least 4 editor’s notes relating to events—and not even major events, but very minor ones—that have taken place in other titles. It’s nice that they want to show connectivity throughout their company, and how events in one line will impact events in another, but not all of it is necessary. It’s a minor distraction, but it adds up after a while.
Barry & Patty (& Iris): It’s fairly obvious that there’s a love-triangle in the mix here, even though if there is some tension on the part of Barry given Iris’ tendency to paint the Flash in a bad light. It’s taken Barry and Patty years to actually go out on a date, and start a relationship, yet there’s an obvious connection between Iris and Barry. Is Iris going to be okay with the situation, and what will happen when (if) Barry tells Patty about his secret identity? Does this mean there won’t be a return of Wally West in the future of Flash comics?
Speed Force: Since it’s a rather large part of his life—as well as the reason for his powers—the background into the Speed Force is something I look forward to, especially given how disastrous it can be for the timeline. Only a very small part of it has been explained thus far, and we’ve only begun to see just how troublesome it can be.
Captain Cold: There’s obviously a personal tension between the two—or rather, Captain Cold thinks there is one—and since the last issue ended on a cliffhanger of the Flash fighting Cold, I’m anxious to know what’s going to happen. I’m also very curious to know how Cold’s powers are now a part of him and without the requirement of his guns; just how did that happen, and was it something he choose to do to himself, or was it something that just occurred without his consent?