What is this all about?In this issue, Kid Flash and The Flash work together to fight crime and The Flash has his first positive experience while connected to the Negative Speed Force. However, Wally and Barry have work to do to restore their friendship. Wally is upset at Barry for not knowing that Damien, the most recent Robin, has kicked him out of the Teen Titans.Barry must balance his personal life with his life as The Flash even as he’s transferred to Central City’s worst prison.
Barry was ready to give up on being The Flash because of the destruction he’s caused due to his connection to the negative speed force. Wally offered to help. Barry says that when two speedsters are close together, their speed forces can lock together. Wally uses their combined-connection to the Speed Force to improve the destructive reactions The Flash has produced. Barry shares that he can now learn more about his new connection to the negative and interact with it. For example, he learned that his emotions control his connection to the negative speed force. Barry learns that “being with Wally is about more than the negative speed force, his spirit makes me smile.” Kid Flash and The Flash’s connection is positive and give hope to a previously gloomy story arc.
The story transitions to Barry and his partner, Kristen, arriving at Iron Heights prison. Warden Wolfe greets him and Kristen with suspicion and makes sure Barry understands that he’s guilty in his eyes. Wolfe states that Kristen and Barry were sent to Iron Heights because of their guilt. Warden Wolfe’s belief, that Barry is a convict and not a co-worker, fulfills Barr’s fears, which he stated prior to entering the prison. Iron Heights is worse than hell.Wolfe almost reads Barry’s emotions when he states,” Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”
We learn that Wolfe allows the inmates to remain in their costumes to remind them of who they are. “Not only can they never escape Iron Heights they can never escape their pasts,” states Wolfe. Kristen disagrees with Wolfe and his treatment of the inmates. She believes in recovery, “Everyone deserves a second chance”. She challenges Barry to support her against Wolfe. Barry contradicts Kristen stating that the inmates here are the worst of the worst and don’t deserve a second chance. At the end of their shift, Kristen walks away from Barry and is unwilling to talk through their differences. The conflict between Barry and Kristen highlights Barry’s hypocrisy due to the destruction that he’s caused to Central City since his powers changed. It will be interesting to see if he gains awareness of this blind-spot in future issues.
The story advances the narratives which began in the previous arc, Negative, with one big exception. Barry makes progress learning how to use his new powers when he’s connected to the negative speed force. However, when they are not speedsters Wally and Barry have problems communicating. Being The Flash has left a huge void in Barry’s personal life. The weightiness of these relationship problems is offset nicely by many call-outs to The Flash’s extensive rogue gallery including, Pyromaniac, Tar Pits, Godspeed, Captain Cold, and the return of Meena who appeared in the first rebirth story arc.
8 / 10
Reviewed by Tom Zimm The Flash #32 Welcome to Iron Heights Written by Joshua Williamson Art by: Christian Duce; Colors by, Ivan Plascencia; Letters by Steve Wands Published by DC Release Date: 10/11/2017