So far the story of the Reverse Flash has read like an intriguing murder mystery making use of not only Barry Allen’s speed force connection, but the smart forensic scientist he is out side of the suit as well. Issue twenty-two brings the Flash face to face with this reinvented Reverse Flash in good chapter that feels a bit pressed for time.
Issue twenty-two sees Barry pull out all the stops to protect the only other person left in the speed force with him back in earlier issues, Iris West. The only way he can hope to accomplish this is by putting her in the Flash’s “protective custody” which means snazzy new duds for Iris. This leads to further inklings of a possible romance between him and Iris in the future when the two seek the aid of Patty Spivot. With the help of his current ladylove Patty, Barry finds himself chasing his only lead, the nutty Dr. Elias. With every issue he appears in Dr. Elias just screams super villain and when we learn more of his mad scheme to use the flash for the misguided good of all mankind, it’s easy to conclude why Barry might think he has something to do with the speed force killer. This finally brings Barry to beginnings of a brutal confrontation with the Reverse Flash where readers get a small idea of what makes this character so different from Thawne or Professor Zoom in the old DC universe. Hint; think counterclockwise.
Have I mentioned how great it is to have Buccellato and Manapul, the Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen of comics back? Next to Snyder and Capullo on Batman, they are one of the best storytelling marriages out there. Issue twenty-two brings so much to the world Barry is in without diluting the overall plot of the Reverse Flash. Amongst all the murder and police science we see the beginnings of a love triangle with Iris and Patty. We also see the push of Darwin Elias madness that will see him turn into a more than competent nemesis for Barry in the future. Alongside the care the duo puts in character narrative and dialogue; the art of Manpul’s unique ink & wash illustration style with Buccellato’s smooth color effects make this one of the most gorgeous books every month. Perhaps its biggest flaw is that it ends a bit too abruptly in a place that isn’t as spectacular as some of the early scenes with Flash and speed force Iris. The abrupt end makes the overall pace of the story a bit jarring.
While the book’s final pages make it feel as though there wasn’t enough action, issue twenty-two serves to unlock another vital part of a mystery. Let’s hope villains month delivers a blockbuster payoff for this overall arc that these last few issues have been teasing.
7 out of 10. Good progression for a mystery but get to the meat of the fight already.