WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Flash #35 by Joshua Williamson, Michael Moreci, Pop Mhan, Ivan Plascencia and Steve Wands, on sale now.
The Flash #35 ties up a lot of loose ends that have been dangling above writer Joshua Williamson’s run on the series, as multiple threats to Barry Allen, Wally West and Central City have all turn out to be linked, and a former friend and potential love interest turns arch-villain. Barry’s had to deal with reverse Flashes and gods of speed before, but this issue sets up a number of new threats that take interesting twists to what we know from those concepts and sets up a number of new mysteries for the Scarlet Speedster to solve.
Last issue ended with The Flash finally relieved of the powers of the Negative Speed Force he’d inadvertedly stolen from the Reverse Flash at the end of their most recent encounter. Unfortunately, he was relieved of these powers by Meena Dhawan, a one-time love interest who gained super speed as a result of the Speed Force storm that kicked off Williamson’s run and was thought dead as a result of Godspeed’s rampage. This issue reveals the truth behind her disappearance; she wasn’t dead, merely lost in the Speed Force until she was rescued by the shadowy super-science organization known as Black Hole.
Together with Black Hole, Meena was able to steal the Negative Speed Force from Barry, freeing him from its corruptive influence but becoming the Negative Flash in the process. While at one time Meena and Barry shared a connection, and she served as a mentor figure to the current Kid Flash, she now blames them for leaving her in the Speed Force and believes Barry is being selfish by hoarding its power all to himself. However, Meena isn’t working alone, as we finally meet Black Hole’s leader who looks to be a terrifying new addition to the ranks of The Flash’s fiercest enemies.
God Of Lightning
In this issue, we discover that the leader of Black Hole is an individual by the name of Raijin, who claims to be the god of lightning. Whether he actually is, or if it’s just an affectation taken by an overly dramatic supervillain remains to be seen, but the name itself isn’t out of the blue. Raijin is the god of lightning, thunder and storms in the Shinto religion and larger Japanese mythology and is usually depicted as a demonic figure that carries around drums which create thunder. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because of characters like Mortal Kombat’s Raiden and the legendary beast Raikou from Pokemon Gold and Silver, which are both somewhat based on the myth of Raijin and his demon companion Raiju.
This isn’t the first time Flash has faced someone claiming to be a god, as fans of the television show with recognize the name Savitar, the God of Speed. While in the show Savitar turned out to be a corrupted Barry Allen from the future, the Savitar of the comics was quite different; a cult leader posing as the Hindu god of motion in order to steal the Speed Force from the Flash Family. However, there’s no denying a certain common design element between the Savitar of the television show and the Raijin who debuted in this week’s issue of The Flash. Could the characters have similar backstories, or can we expect more speed gods to show up to menace The Flash?
Perhaps the biggest revelation of this issue wasn’t the identity of Black Hole’s leader but the knowledge that he was responsible for the Speed Force storm which granted the likes of Godspeed and Negative Flash their powers. He plans to do it all over again, but this time with more focus and more control over where the storm hits. If Raijin truly has control over the Speed Force in such a way, he could imbue the soldiers of Black Hole with super-speed, creating an army of speedster who could get away with whatever they wanted before anyone even knew they were there.