I’m sure that a lot of fans are going to re-read “The Flash” #8 several times, picking the pages apart carefully for potential hidden clues about 2011’s “Flashpoint” event. This is an issue all about time being changed, after all.
More readers, I suspect, are going to put the issue down after the first time and take a large, deep breath before they’re ready to jump back into its pages. “The Flash” #8 is brutal, focusing on the dreaded Reverse-Flash and showing us just why he’s the most feared member of the Flash’s rogues gallery. Being dead for many years, we’ve had other evil speedsters subbing in for the Reverse-Flash (including Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins’ own creation of Zoom), but now that I’ve read this issue I can see why they specifically wanted to use this character instead.
Time travel has always been part of the Reverse-Flash’s bag of tricks, but Johns takes it a step further here, as the Reverse-Flash begins uses his new powers from the negative Speed Force to start rewriting time whenever possible, his origin continually shifting and altering before the reader’s eyes. As the timeline continues to revise itself, and the Reverse-Flash’s methods grow more violent and nasty, the message sinks in: this is an extremely dangerous man, and one that is certainly mad to boot.
There’s more to “The Flash” #8 than just brutality, though. Watching the Reverse-Flash’s own psyche grow and twist over the years, you get to see his obsession with Barry Allen build up, his motive forever increasing. A lot of villains seem to have little attachment to the hero they face off against the most, but it’s that obsession with Allen that makes the Reverse-Flash stand out. There’s still a lot left untold in this issue, but it’s more than enough of a base for us to draw our own conclusions about the character.
Kolins finishes up his guest artist stint this issue with a fast-moving, slick art style. He’s at his best when it comes to the Reverse-Flash’s face, from anger to fear to desperate love to madness, each expression radiating out of the page. And that final page, with the Reverse-Flash skidding in to view, is a perfect closing image for the issue: from the clenched teeth to the vibrations in the air, it just screams that there’s a madman on the loose. Some parts aren’t quite up to some of his earlier standards-there are a surprisingly high number of panels with no backgrounds, and some of the detail seems a bit glossed over-but overall it’s good.
“My name is Eobard Thawne,” the Reverse-Flash states at the start of this issue. “And I didn’t always look forward to the future.” Based on this issue, I suspect a lot of characters won’t be looking forward to the future, either, but we’re in for one hell of a ride just ahead.