The Flash #31 Review: Beating Hearts

Flash #31
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Summary
Writer: Joshua Williamson, Artists: Neil Googe, Gus Vazquez, Color Artist: Ivan Plascencia, Publisher: DC Comics, Release Date: Out Now, Price: $2.99
Variant cover to Flash #31 by Howard Porter and Hi-Fi
Flash #31 variant cover by Howard Porter and Hi-Fi

The Flash battles the villain Bloodwork, a former CCPD coroner named Ramsey Rosso. His blood is spreading throughout Central City, and the Flash must stop him and hope that his Negative Speed Force powers don’t take out the city in the process.

This is a nice climax to the current Flash arc, as this forces Barry to confront a person who is so paranoid of their biological shortcomings (Ramsey suffers from hemophilia) that they are making others suffer in their cure.  While this isn’t a perfect parallel to what the Flash is going through with their Negative Speed Force abilities, it does show a potential path he could go down if he continues to drown in his own negativity — both literal and figurative.

It does have its flaws; it pivots a lot on whether or not you should feel sympathy for Bloodwork. At times he’s portrayed as someone lost in the fear brought about by their condition, and at other times he comes off as vindictive and malicious. Even the Flash plays in this idea by showing sympathy to get close to Ramsey before using his lighting to purge the Bloodwork creature from him, which feels like a cruel tactic on Barry’s part. That being said, he does promise to help Ramsay after the fact.

While these problems are present, they don’t permeate the entire issue of the comic, and there are other good character moments for the Flash — especially towards the end when he is pondering the future of his career. Barry shows vulnerability in this comic, and that’s one of the things that makes the Flash my favorite DC hero. He’s human. He is vulnerable, and he often wears his heart on his sleeve.

Interior art from Flash #31 by Neil Googe and Ivan Plascencia
Flash #31 art by Neil Googe and Ivan Plascencia

The art is a bit shaky at times. While it is very fluid-feeling and portrays the Flash’s kinetic energy well, the feet look really freaking weird. I know that sounds like an oddly specific complaint, but it’s an eye-catching detail in a lot of panels. Heads are also oddly shaped in some scenes. This is in the first half with artist Neil Googe, and the art looks good outside of these details. However, the details are pretty distracting.

The second half features artist Gus Vazquez, and, as always, I’m not a big fan of the artistic dissonance between the two featured artists — even if both artists are good. Vazquez’s style is more featured and attuned to the character and plot-focused qualities of this portion.

Color artist Ivan Plascencia keeps a good balance of light and dark colors, focusing on either half when the moment calls for it. This makes the first half, where the Flash fights Bloodwork, very atmospheric, as the world seems off and wrong. Plascencia does really good work here.

While Flash #31 does have its flaws, they are minute compared to what the comic does right. It features an epic battle, and plenty of grounded character moments. It’s a good continuation to the Flash’s saga, and writer Joshua Williamson should be proud of his work here. Pick it up.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.