Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Scott Kolins (p), Doug Hazelwood (i)
The book opens with the Iron Height prison coming under siege by an army of gorillas, who are being mentally controlled by Grodd. As the situation inside the prison becomes highly chaotic, with the gorilla army is willfully freeing every super-villain they lay their eyes upon, we see Wally is made aware of the situation, and his pleasant evening at home with Linda is brought to a crashing halt. We then see the Flash arrives at Iron Heights where he finds the place in complete shambles, and after he gets Hunter Zolomon to the infirmary to receive some much needed medical attention, he heads into the lower levels to see if he can keep Grodd from being set free. However when he arrives in the lower level Wally finds himself up against an army of super-powered baddies, and they are all eager to exact their vengeance upon their hated enemy. While Wally makes a valiant bid to race past these villains & concentrate on Grodd, we see luck simply isn't on Wally's side, as he finds himself vastly outnumbered, and it looks like he's about to be defeated before he can even reach Grodd. However, being the villain that he is we see the recently freed Grodd decides to oblige Wally by arriving at the battle in a murderous rage, and even the other villains are quick to let Grodd have first crack at killing the Flash.
The Iron Heights one-shot from last year stands up as one of my favorite stories that Geoff Johns has delivered thus far in his run, as was the done-in-one issue where Grodd went on a rampage, so I'm delighted with this current arc, as it looks to have taken the sense of danger that was developed during both these stories, and combined them to create and even larger threat. First off Iron Heights is easily one of the most interesting environments in the Flash's corner of the DCU, as unlike most comic book prisons that simply act as a place super-villains can be stored until they make their escape, Iron Heights acts as the stick that one would use to provoke the already fearsome creatures into an even more heighten state of anxiety. In other words Iron Height is a pressure cooker of a prison, and when these inmates do manage to get loose they're eager to continue the evil that got them locked away. As for Grodd, Geoff Johns looks to have realize the idea that Grodd can be a truly frightening figure, if one plays up the bestial nature of the character. I mean an intelligent, well spoken Grodd isn't nearly as effective as one who looks like he would find great delight in ripping you apart and feasting upon your remains.
This issue also deserves credit for starting off the story with a bang, as right from the opening page this story has a tremendous amount of forward momentum, and in a book where the hero's primary ability is to move faster that most of his enemies can contend with, Geoff Johns has tapped into the idea that if one throws enough threats Wally's way, the book becomes a great deal more exciting. I mean Grodd alone would be enough to carry this arc, but by setting the story inside Iron Heights, Geoff Johns now has an excuse to draw upon a wealth of baddies who all evoke memories of how dangerous they were when the Flash encountered them in earlier issues. I mean this issue is a regular collection of past villains, as in addition to Grodd we see at least ten other deadly killers are set loose within Iron Heights. What's more Geoff Johns doesn't shy away from the idea that the numbers game is proving to be Wally's downfall, as even before Grodd makes his impressive last page arrival, it's pretty apparent that Wally was on the verge of being defeated. There's more action in this opening chapter than most writers manage to deliver within an entire arc, and I don't expect the pressure will be letting up any time soon.
Scott Kolins is a true blue comic artist, as his ability to spot & deliver the big impact scenes in a given issue is almost uncanny. From the opening credit-page shot of the army who descend upon Iron Heights, to the page where Wally arrives at the hallway that leads to Grodd's cell, this issue is a masterful example of Scott Kolins ability to convey a sense of danger. In fact an even better example of this talent would have to be the final page shot of Grodd, as I don't think the character's ever looked more terrifying than he does on this page. One also has to love the panel where we see the expressions of the villains that Wally was dealing with before Grodd's escape, as this panel does a wonderful job of telling us Grodd operates on a whole other level. The art also does some nice work on the little details, like the page where we are shown which villains are set free, and one can't help but take note of the villains who are set free but don't show up to battle the Flash in the final pages. The ravaged interior of Iron Heights is also well presented, as the place is a decidedly creepy setting filled with all manner of monsters. The creepy abilities of these villains are also nicely handled, with Double Down's playing card flesh being a particularly effective visual.
An issue that deserves to be read by any fan who enjoys a well crafted throw down between a super-hero & a super-villain, as Geoff Johns has absolutely perfected this scenario in these pages. Now following on the heels of the battle with the Rogues, this story does feel a bit familiar, as once again the story features Wally squaring off against an army of baddies. However, having the action set within the confines of Iron Heights, and the involvement of Grodd has me welcoming this latest arc with open arms. Plus, the simple fact of the matter is that Geoff Johns has figured out a formula that generates a level of pure excitement that I simply don't find in any other comic, as I actually fear for Wally's safety when he's fighting these villains, and the last page is just a perfect way to leave me counting the days until the next issue. Scott Kolins art is also a vital part of this book, and it's one of the main reasons this book is my absolute favorite title coming out of DC.
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