Ever since he was struck by lightning and given a connection to the extra-dimensional Speed Force, Barry Allen has lived an interesting life, fighting crime as the super-speedster The Flash. Recently, he learned that his life is more interesting than he can remember. Literally.
Someone or something is altering history, erasing events and entire people from the timeline. Barry discovered this fact after being reached by one of the forgotten—Wally West, his protégé Kid Flash, who in another time and another place took up his title as The Flash.
That mystery must wait, however, as Barry Allen’s hometown of Central City is besieged by strange lightning storms born of The Speed Force. All around the city, people are being struck by lightning and finding themselves with super-speed powers. These include August Heart—one of Barry’s few friends among the detectives of the Central City Police department—and Dr. Meena Dhawan, a scientist at STAR Labs.
Barry is quick to aid the efforts to wrangle those who lose control of their powers and, as The Flash, to offer them training. Soon he finds himself fighting a war on two fronts, contending with both The Black Hole—a cabal of criminal scientists who seem to be responsible for triggering The Speed Force storms somehow—and a mysterious new speedster villain called Godspeed, who is killing his students to steal their powers!
Can Barry win the day with the help of his newfound allies? Will Godspeed prove to be the real Fastest Man Alive? And what of the other Wally West, the nephew of Barry’s friend, Iris West, who unbeknownst to everyone has developed his own connection to The Speed Force independent of the strange storms?
Lightning Strikes Twice drops the reader feet-first into the world of Barry Allen, requiring them to hit the ground running to keep up with an incredibly fast-paced story. Thankfully, writer Joshua Williamson manages to make the complex history of the character easily accessible. This is fortunate because this volume features several subplots that came out of DC Universe: Rebirth in addition to the on-going story of Barry Allen’s life, the reintroduction of the original Wally West, the new Wally West developing super-speed powers and everything involving The Black Hole and Godspeed. Miraculously, Williamson finds time for quiet character moments amidst all the action. Of particular note is his development of Dr. Meena Dhawan, who quickly becomes a worthy love-interest for Barry Allen as well as a hero in her own right as the speedster Fast Track.
The artwork by Carmine Di Giandomenico proves divisive. Forgoing the usual crystal clarity of traditional superhero comics, Di Giandomenico utilizes a grittier style that seems to blur and distort when the characters are in motion, with wild squiggles denoting the lighting sparking around the speedsters. The effectiveness of this artistic choice is debatable though it does give the book’s many action sequences a distinctive appearance that is not easily forgotten.
This volume is rated 12+ and I consider that a fair rating. There’s no sexual content or adult situations depicted. There’s a fair amount of violence and discussion of death, including a few disturbing sequences involving the speedsters killed by Godspeed, but nothing teenagers shouldn’t be able to cope with.
The Flash, vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice
by Joshua Williamson
Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico
DC Comics, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 12+