Now that the most recent issue of “Justice League” transformed the members of the team into different gods, there’s a lot of ground to cover. The end result is the various “Justice League: Darkseid War” one-shots, allowing for some slight detours for which there isn’t the space within “Justice League” itself. Rob Williams and Jesus Merino’s “Justice League: Darkseid War: The Flash” is a good example of how you can take advantage of these stories to give extra characterization to an otherwise crowded storyline.
Williams’ plot shows us what it’s like for the Flash to be bonded to the Black Racer, essentially becoming the personification of death itself. We’ve seen the Flash try to outrun death and that idea is played with here as well, but Williams crams a lot of other material into the issue as well. At its center is the idea that — in order to complete the union of the Flash and the Black Racer — the Flash has to take a single life, in addition to the consequences both of refusing to do so as well as what would happen if he agrees.
The end result is a mixture of moral questions — trying to decide what action is really for the greater good, as well as if inaction is applied — and a reminder of the moments in Barry Allen’s life that have made him the man that he currently is. It’s material that we’ve seen in one form or another, but Williams brings it all together in a cohesive and satisfying manner. For a story that seems to take place between panels of “Justice League” #45, making this work is no small feat. It’s a solid story that holds your attention from start to finish; when you consider that Williams can’t really make any big changes to Geoff Johns’s “Justice League” story itself, that’s no small feat.
It’s nice to see Merino drawing “Justice League: Darkseid War: The Flash,” as he gives the Flash’s struggle a visual pathos when things go south. Merino gives Barry’s facial expressions the appropriate level of worry and indecision, as every choice he makes proves not one can perfectly fix everything. He’s especially good at the normally-trite image of the single, manly tear inching down the hero’s cheek; I will give Merino credit that a teary-eyed Black Racer is not what I was expecting here, but it syncs up perfectly with Williams’ script. When we see death — or, in this case, Death — above the horizon, it’s a marvelously eerie moment Merino and colorist Guy Major sell perfectly.
“Justice League: Darkseid War: The Flash” #1 could have been a throwaway, instantly forgettable comic. Instead, Williams and Merino have taken the ideas posited in “Justice League” by Johns and turned them into something that definitely accentuates the overall storyline. A nice job by all involved.