Warning: spoilers ahead for The Flash #764!
The Flash is going to be facing one of his most difficult challenges ever in his most recent issue from DC Comics. With an all new creative team at the helm, The Flash is pitting Barry Allen against an older foe he hasn’t had to deal with in quite awhile, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less lethal. Dr. Alchemy is anything but an easy takedown for the the Flash, and he may even become unstoppable if he succeeds in his latest scheme, with his powerful Philosopher’s Stone allowing him to transmute elements at will. Even worse, the Flash won’t have his speed to rely on in the next few issues of the series.
Barry Allen’s powers come from the Speed Force and have always been at his disposal, so it’s rare that he’s ever without the connection that grants him his abilities as the Fastest Man Alive. However, there are other qualities to Barry Allen beyond his speed that make him a valuable hero to the citizens of Central City and the world. He also has a gifted mind as a chemist, typically working as a forensic scientist with the CCPD as his day job. There’s no doubt it takes a sharp mind to be effective as the Scarlet Speedster, with Barry so often needing to literally think on his feet. But will Barry’s intellect be enough?
In The Flash #764 from new writer Kevin Shinick with art by Will Conrad, the Flash will have no choice but to rely solely on his mind to defeat Dr. Alchemy. After Alchemy escapes from his prison cell, Barry figures out that he’s seeking one of Will Magnus’ responsometers, typically used for his Metal Men. Stealing the responsometer on display at an exhibit in Central City would allow Alchemy to study and reverse-engineer it, allowing him to absorb the Stone’s power instead of wielding it with a ring. As a result, Flash heads to the Metal Men exhibit to intervene and stop him, but Alchemy is ready for him, altering the composition of the Flash’s body with seemingly disastrous results.
While the specifics are still unclear by the issue’s end, something seriously wrong has happened to Barry and his Speed Force connection. Whatever Dr. Alchemy did, it altered something in the Flash’s body that has disrupted that connection, leaving Barry unable to catch Alchemy, who left the exhibit with the responsometer in his possession.
The Flash doesn’t have a choice anymore. Until he can find a way to get his speed back, he’s going to have to use his intellect as Barry Allen to stop Dr. Alchemy. This should be pretty cool for Flash fans to see going forward, as more often that not, his speed has taken precedence over Barry’s brilliant mind. Usually the Flash‘s smarts and speed are working in tandem, so it will interesting to see Barry forced to double down on the smarts, facing a foe whose just as intelligent in his own sinister right.