SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "The Flash" #5, on sale now.
With the rogue former S.T.A.R. Labs scientists of Black Hole finally defeated, Barry Allen decides to take a well-deserved day off to spend some time with his new love interest and fellow speedster, Meena Dhawan. Central City's other neophyte speedsters, given powers in a Speed Force storm created by Black Hole's leader, Dr. Joseph Carver, are in good hands with August Heart, the detective who fights alongside both Barry Allen and the Flash. Oh, but right, Barry's got police work to attend, Iris West challenges him personally and professionally -- and what is young Wally West up to?
Yes, the life of the Flash is ever complicated.
Division of Labor
This issue is titled "Barry Allen's Day Off," and while he doesn't actually get much of a rest, it is interesting to see how some of his new partners take responsibilities off of his shoulders -- even as the flood of new speedsters creates new challenges.
First, Meena gets the POV narrative captions to introduce the issue. Ok, that's not a huge burden lifted, but she does take a certain speedster under her wing for special training -- a young man named Wally West (New 52 incarnation). Notably, she does not know of Wally's connection to Barry or the Flash; she merely sees a kid struggling with a decision about whether to seek training for his powers at all.
Though he does not enter S.T.A.R. Labs, Meena counts among her powers the ability to "see" the Speed Force in others, and approaches Wally directly. She introduces herself as Fast Track, before revealing her real name to gain Wally's trust. Meena teaches him a few things, while Wally shows off some abilities Meena herself hasn't yet seen. Before they've even completed the montage sequence, an emergency forces them both to attempt new tricks they've never tried before, racing up a building to save two falling workers, then cushioning their fall with arm-windmills.
Meanwhile, August is doing all the policing that Barry has been too busy to handle, plus putting in a bit of training for the new speedsters at S.T.A.R. In short, he's an overachiever. August, who still doesn't have a code name, displays some of that intensity that makes Flash (and Meena) nervous, suggesting the new recruits be instructed in the art of catching live bullets, and states his belief that if they choose not to fight crime, "that'd be a waste of their powers." It's clear there's a conflict coming somewhere down the line, the only question is what form it takes.
Oh, and Iris. Despite Barry telling August later in the issue that there's no romance between him and IRis, that "it never works out," Barry literally leaves his new girlfriend on a tropical island to chill with Iris in a coffee shop.
Attack on S.T.A.R. Labs
Other things he's not doing at this time: a.) police work; b.) training speedsters; c.) being the Flash. It's the last two that might haunt Barry the most, because when Godspeed launches an attack on S.T.A.R. Labs, it's down to Meena and the noobs to stop him. Meena deduces that the villain's reappearance means Dr. Carver, still in a coma after the events of last issue, is not under the mask. Operating on the belief that Godspeed is trying to steal their speed, Meena has the trainees synchronize-spin against his momentum; this goes poorly, and the young speedster Avery is sent to fetch the Flash.
By the time Avery catches up with Barry and August, and returns them to the site of the attack, the damage has been done. Two young speedsters lay dead on the ground, and Meena's costume is a smoldering, empty husk. But what does this mean? The Flash's first question is "where is she?" suggesting he doesn't believe she perished in the assault -- there is, after all, quite a lot of precedent for empty speedster suits, most famously Barry's own in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" #8. Has Meena run straight into the Speed Force? Has she been disintegrated by Godspeed's energy, relinquishing not only her speed but her existence? Or is something else going on?
Luckily, this is a biweekly comic, so some of the answers will be revealed… in a flash.
"The Flash" #5 is on sale now.