Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

flashhauntingWeather Wizard, the Mist, Prism (aka Rainbow Raider), Peekaboo, and Pied Piper were doing their best to split Central City wide open like an overripe piece of fruit. On their own they couldn’t slow down the Flash. But together, the furious five were doing a pretty good job of wrecking the city and making Barry Allen’s life miserable.

“We will continue to hammer the city’s infrastructure, robbing its citizens of their sense of safety,” explains Hartley Rathaway, better known as Pied Piper. “We’re going to create a new normal in Central City. Everyone will feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under their world.”

More than anyone, Barry Allen was feeling a little discombobulated. Not only was he overwhelmed with the havoc caused by the five supervillains, but he was also suffering from an anomalous substance that infected his body during a recent wormhole crisis. “I feel like I’m disconnecting from reality,” he says, “like I’m speeding up while at a dead stop.” Like a racecar engine revving in neutral.

Central City had turned into a war zone and Team Flash needed help in a hurry. To the rescue comes Oliver Queen, otherwise known as the Green Arrow. He shows up (on page 229) with his ace crew, Felicity Smoak and John Diggle.

The Haunting of Barry Allen is a novel based on the events shared between the four TV shows in the FlarrowVerse (including Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow). There’s a lot of history between the Flash and the Green Arrow in particular, and it’s obvious Clay and Susan Griffith had a blast writing their superhero prose crossover.

We had a blast reading it too. One of the best things the authors did was isolate two characters in random chapters. In this way they provided extra value not seen on TV. Naturally, Barry and Oliver get some alone time together, as do Iris West and Caitlin Snow. Our favorite chapter featured John Diggle and Joe West. The two men sat down and talked about the challenges and responsibilities they faced every day. They’re both men of action, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t take a moment and compare notes on all the crazy stuff happening in their lives. “I don’t worry so much for myself,” admits the elder West, “but I worry about everyone else around me.”

In this case, there’s not much he can do for his foster son. Barry was being distracted (haunted) by his past and his future. It’s hard to concentrate when your mom, your colleague’s dead fiancée, Gorilla Grodd, Eobard Thawne, and your future self are all whispering advice in your ear. If Flashpoint has taught us anything, it’s that reality is a mutable concept. Metahumans, viridescent vigilantes, Harrison Wells proxies, talking gorillas, monsters made of sound, time travel, wormholes, alternative universes, singing meteorites – it’s all part of the job description for grandmaster Flash, the fastest man alive. To be continued in the sequel, Arrow: A Generation of Vipers.

[The Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen / By Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith / First Printing: November 2016 / ISBN: 9781785651410]

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