The Flash: Zoom

Zoom was the last significant arc of the New 52 era of The Flash.

Zoom, a classic Flash villain, executes a complicated, centuries-spanning plan aimed at destroying the legacy of the Scarlet Speedster. Zoom gathers individuals from different eras who had received powers from lightning strikes similar to the one that empowered Barry Allen. He trains and mentors them, convincing them that the Flash is a menace masquerading as a hero that needs to be stopped. Barry Allen’s ongoing investigation of his mother’s murder dovetails with Zoom’s plan, prompting Barry’s wrongfully-imprisoned father to mount a prison escape in hopes of saving his son’s life. Zoom and his crew provid Flash with a substantial challenge along the way to a furious final clash between Flash and Zoom.

Writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen do a nice job of weaving together many threads from the New 52 Flash series in this arc. Their take on Barry Allen is pretty solid, navigating him through some difficult emotional territory that has a significant impact on both of his “father” relationships (with his actual Dad, Henry, as well as surrogate father Darryl Frye). The duo also give Zoom a decent build and some compelling justifications for his mania to dismantle the Flash legacy. The writers give nice moments to key supporting characters, especially Iris and Wally West, and bring most of the major plot points of this era to a satisfying conclusion. Though fans can only puzzle at why the now-single Barry still isn’t pursuing a relationship with Iris.

Artist Brett Booth can be a polarizing presence, but his approach is well-suited to The Flash. His angular approach to anatomical design is effective for a series whose lead character is a runner and his creative approach to panel design gives the art a kinetic, kaleidoscopic quality that helps reinforce the speed motif. Working primarily with inker Norm Rapmund and colorist Andrew Dalhouse, Booth’s work gives the story the momentum it needs and his expressive facial designs help sell the story’s emotional impact. His designs (in collaboration with Bong Dazo) for Zoom and Zoom’s lightning-powered team are quite interesting, with Zoom especially coming across as the cracked mirror opposite of the Flash he’s supposed to be.

Zoom really isn’t a good entry point for newcomers. It’s a climactic arc that relies on knowledge of the prior three-plus years of story to fully appreciate. But for fans who have stuck with The Flash during the New 52 years, it’s a satisfying wrap-up of the major plot threads of this incarnation of the book.

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