Barry Allen may be The Fastest Man Alive, but training a teenage sidekick is a full-time job! Thankfully, the older Wally West—the one Barry trained as Kid Flash in what was literally another lifetime—is on hand to give the younger Wally West the benefit of his experiences as a sidekick and a superhero. That does little to solve the trust issues between Barry and the younger Wally, whom Barry still refuses to let in on his secret identity.
Young Wally winds up in hot water after being caught skipping class to fight crime as Kid Flash by both The Flash and his Aunt Iris. Determined to prove himself to his mentor, Wally ventures off on his own to investigate reports of a man of living shadows who haunts the downtown districts of Central City.
Soon Wally, Barry, and Iris are entangled in The Shadowlands, a realm of nightmare and darkness born of the bad parts of humanity’s souls. It is here that Barry and Wally discover The Shade—a former enemy of The Flash, reformed and redeemed by time and the love of a good woman, who has also become lost to The Shadowlands. Worse yet, The Shade has lost control of his powers and some unknown force is using them to corrupt his lost love as well as Iris West!
Can Barry and Wally find a way to rebuild the trust between them that was broken? Even if they can trust each other, can they trust The Shade to aid them as they try to rescue Iris? Most importantly, can they stop the power of The Shadowlands from taking over the world of light or will The Darkness prove to be faster than The Fastest Man Alive?
I must confess a bias in enjoying Speed of Darkness. As a fan of the 1990s Starman series (see my Classic Fantastic review here), it does my heart good to see The Shade brought into the reality of DC’s Rebirth universe and to see that the events of that series, in some form or fashion, are still canon. Granted, I am disturbed to see Shade’s love interest, tough-as-nails cop Hope O’Dare, turned into a damsel in distress for the sake of this story, but at least she is back to her normal surly self by story’s end.
While the story involving The Shade takes up most of this volume, it is bookended by two shorter stories. The first features a team up between both versions of Wally West, with the older Wally mentoring the younger in a way that Barry Allen can’t. The second holiday-themed story focuses upon the young Wally in his Kid Flash identity, as he unwittingly gives his mentor the night off from crime fighting by trying to ensure that there’s no crime for reporter Iris West to get called away to report on while she’s on a date with Barry Allen. Joshua Williamson shows tremendous skill in portraying these characters and allowing them to tell us their stories in their own voices.
Would that the art were as uniform in its quality. The first story, with art by Jorge Corona is decent enough, though a little distorted in places. The artwork of Davide Gianfelice is horribly uneven at times, with some panels that look half-finished in their sketchiness. The best artwork is that of Neil Googe, who illustrates the final section focusing on Kid Flash’s holiday crime-fighting efforts in a suitably animated fashion.
This volume is rated 12+ and I consider that rating a fair one. There’s no adult content or nudity, no unacceptable curse words and only a modicum of superheroic violence. Nothing here is unsuitable for the target teenage audience.
The Flash, vol. 2: Speed of Darkness
by Joshua Williamson
Art by Davide Gianfelice, Neil Googe, and Jorge Corona
DC Comics, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 12+