WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Flash #80, by Joshua Williamson, Scott Kolins, Luis Guerrero and Steve Wands, on sale now.
During the events of "Flash War," Hunter Zolomon/Zoom revealed his ability to manipulate both the Strength and the Sage Forces to his will, making him an immensely powerful adversary for Barry Allen during that storyline, which heavily involved Wally West. The villain then disappeared, though his return always seemed like something of a certainty. After showing up in The Flash #79, Zolomon is certainly back in force, and he's dead set on making clear he's now the most powerful speedster in the multiverse.
The Flash #80 begins with Barry facing off against Black Flash as Zolomon kidnaps Steadfast -- the Still Force avatar. The villain wants to absorb the Still Force avatar's powers, but doesn't seem to be able to accomplish his goal without Steadfast actually using his abilities, which he refuses to do at first. However, Barry soon arrives on the scene and is beaten badly by Zolomon.
Steadfast eventually interferes and uses his powers to stop Zolomon from snapping Barry's neck. However, this gives the villain the opening he's been looking for, and he takes Steadfast's powers. Zolomon then reveals that he's tapped into the "Forever Force," an immensely powerful entity over which the various forces are vying for control. Zolomon then declares himself, "The Greatest Flash in the Multiverse," which has been one of his main goals.
Zolomon uses his powers, purposefully attracting the attention of Black Flash. Zolomon's goal is to kill Black Flash so as to prove he's a hero. However, just as the monster lunges at Zolomon from behind, Barry intervenes, getting skewered. "Barry, what have you done," Zolomon explains as he looks on at the carnage.
The issue leaves Barry's fate unclear. However, Iris earlier noted his speed-healing is on the fritz, which means this injury could very easily prove fatal. The solicitation for The Flash #81 teases that Barry isn't going anywhere, and he'll even seemingly team up with Zolomon to take on Black Flash in that next issue, but just how he'll survive this brutal attack isn't clear. However, Zolomon -- who has been one of Flash's greatest enemies over the years -- might just play a key role in making sure Barry keeps his mantle for awhile longer.
Regardless of what happens next, Zolomon is currently one of the most powerful speedsters to have ever existed by wielding all of the various forces at once. The issue also illustrates just how far Barry is willing to go in order to keep another person from being killed by Black Flash after the death of Psych earlier in the series. Barry's sacrifice here might end up having the effect of bringing Zoom more in line with his heroic ambitions, which could mean major things for the speedster community as a whole -- provided the Speed Force survives, that is.
The Flash #81 hits shelves Oct. 23.