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REVIEW: DC’s The Flash #791

The Flash and his family are the fastest folks around. That is until an armada of speedster aliens, the Fraction, invades Central City to wage a speed-force-altering war on the planet, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake. The Flash #791 — written by Jeremy Adams, penciled by Roger Cruz, inked by Wellington Dias, with colors by Luis Guerrero and letters by Rob Leigh — continues the devastating One Minute War.

Time stands still as war is waged. Thankfully, defying time and the speed force is no problem for the Flash and company. But time isn’t on their side. It seems like they met their match in the Fraction, and they may have already suffered a heartbreaking casualty.Disaster and apocalypse-level events are par for the course in the current DC canon, and The Flash #791 continues that trend, hot on the heels of the now-concluded Dark Crisis and its many tie-ins. Despite killing off a major character, citywide damage, and countless casualties, The Flash #791 doesn’t do anything particularly fresh with the apocalyptic scenario.

The Flash has a special brand of humor that feels mostly absent, or at the very least subdued, in this issue. Given the incredible horror and danger the Fraction pose, not to mention the death of Iris, it makes sense that The Flash #791 is more somber than the rest of Adams’ run on the series. Often this works to the advantage of the narrative, making the comic relief and human drama more pronounced. Despite its fast-paced premise, Adams still makes time for the characters and narrative to breathe. Barry Allen grieves the loss of Iris, Wally West comforts him while soothing his family, and Jay Garrick shows a softer side while protecting Impulse and Kid Flash. The Fracture’s presence is so unpleasant it’s actually a relief to see the well-designed and reasonably scary Miss Murder and her Speed Hounds enter the picture, if only for one page.

The Flash #791 sticks to the crisp, warm visuals that have defined the series in recent months. Artists Roger Cruz and Wellington Dias use clean and spare line art with a light and gentle weight. There is plenty of empty space that makes the scenes with more movement and details easier on the eyes. The free space also gives Luis Guerrero more leeway to fill in the blanks with watercolor textures and solid swaths of color. The bright and bold color palette of the Flashes, with cheery reds, yellows, golds, oranges, and primary shades, stands in stark contrast with the ominous storyline and the colors that accompany it. The Fraction’s acidic color palette of secondary colors, the muted earth tones and greys of the ruined Central City, and the bleak blues of the darkened skies remind readers just how dark things can get for the heroes.

Although the all-encompassing disaster arc feels rather stale at this point, The Flash #791 does a good job of raising the stakes and providing some pathos in its strongest moments, with just enough on-brand humor and humanity to keep the issue from sinking. The creative team has crafted a compelling start to the speedster showdown.

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