If “The Dastardly Deaths of the Rogues!” was a marathon, this issue would be somewhere around mile 24. The end is in sight, and you’re preparing for that final kick of energy for the last mile or so, starting at marker 25. But you’ve still got to get to that last mile, and so you’re in a state of transition. With that in mind, though? “The Flash” clearly has trained quite well for this marathon, because there’s still quite a bit of fuel left in the tank.
Throughout the fifth part of this storyline (despite it accidentally being labeled as part four in the credits, oops), Geoff Johns sets up the big conclusion for next month. The dreaded mirror that houses the Mirror Lords is just about to be cracked open, and the Flash and the 25th century Top are being attacked by both present day and future Rogues and Renegades. And then, just when things are looking at their worst, Johns gives us both a glimmer of hope in the firm of an 11th hour revelation, as well as a moment in which things manage to get even worse still. It’s good, solid plotting, albeit one that on its own doesn’t stand alone very well. It’s geared entirely towards “The Flash” #6 wrapping this story up, and that’s a perfectly reasonable position to take.
Francis Manapul’s art is as beautiful and energetic as always. From the very first panel, with Barry Allen zooming down the street, his art is bursting with speed and power, exactly what you’d want from “The Flash.” His collaboration with colorist Brian Buccellato continues to look incredible, from the icy blue drifts of snow and ice on the battlefield, to the crackle of red and white speed that trails behind the Flash. And when the Flash shatters a decoy mirror early on, well, the way that we see the villain’s face grinning from all the different shards is great.
My one complaint with this issue is the random burst of “Brightest Day” crossover that shows up around the halfway point. Years from now, reading this in collected form, I suspect it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb; then again, it does even now. I understand it’s supposed to be DC’s big event at the moment, but I suspect a lot of readers would have been happier without its sudden eruption and then dissipation into this issue.
At the end of the day, though, it was worth the extra wait for a new issue, and now that we’re back Johns and Manapul have whetted our appetite for next month’s conclusion. So far, I’d say that “The Flash” is right on track for a strong finish.