The Flash is doing everything I want it to, to be honest. It’s a superhero comic that is consistently fun to read that looks absolutely spectacular every issue and though the dialogue and over-arching plotlines aren’t anything the special the series benefits from expert pacing. My only real complaint is that the big showdown with Grodd doesn’t have as much gravitas as it should. There just isn’t the chemistry between hero and big bad here that there is between Batman and the Joker or any other historically brilliant superhero rivalry. And Gorilla Grodd is just that; He’s the big bad of the Flash’s world. He’s not bound by any honor-among-thieves like the Rogues. Grodd is a larger than life king mixed with a brutal savagery and while he has been suitably established as such thus far in the series there’s just nothing palpable between him and the Flash.
The already sizeable cast of this comic is expanded further as we find out about the Gorilla Solovar who appears to have been the same Gorilla that attacked Barry as a kid back in the flashback of issue 8. Turbine also gets more of a spotlight and to be honest I’m kind of hoping this guy turns into a recurring ally or villain of the Flash because he has a pretty cool backstory being a fighter pilot sucked into the speed force. It’s always entertaining to see the Rogues playing a heroic role and there’s even time to find out what Iris West has been up to (nothing interesting) and Patty Spivot finally learns Flash’s identity, which might inject some excitement into their vanilla relationship. All in all there’s a lot going on but I fear that Manapul is better at buildup than payoff. As we approach the big final punch-out between Flash and Grodd I realize that this is the climax the series has been building up to but the road here has been a lot more entertaining, paved as it was with Gorillas falling from the sky and fun banter from the Rogues.
Earlier I mentioned the pacing in the series and I stick by the idea that it’s the greatest strength of the writing. Francis Manapul has structured each issue so that it was an entertaining in and of itself but fed into a greater storyline, without either aspect detracting from the other. What we’re left with is something that many books in the New 52 envy; a product of world-building filled with challenges and allies for the protagonist. Frankly I think this is what should have been done across the board in the New 52, the Flash has almost his entire Rogues Gallery of villains with Zoom being the only major exception, and that is a lot more than books like Justice League can say, having used its 1+ year of content to encounter three whole antagonists.
Issue 14 isn’t the strongest issue but it’s entertaining and an important issue to a series that is worth sticking around for. If you want to see a truly great villain then do what everyone else is doing and go read Scott Snyder’s Batman – But for classic superhero fun I can’t see how you could do any better than the Flash.