Joshua Williamson, writer
Scott Kolins, art
Luis Guerrero, colors
Steve Wands, letters
The previous story arc, Force Conquest, involved Barry and Iris searching for keys to different Forces. This book begins a new story involving a member of The Flash’s rogues gallery: The Trickster. The writer takes the reader back to James Jesse’s childhood, his experience with the circus, and the abusive behaviors of his parents. James hates his parents because of the shame and humiliation they put him through and the crooked ways they made money. Ironically, The Trickster becomes a con artist and a thief living off the talents he learned from his parents. Eventually, he’s imprisoned by Warden Wolfe and it takes him years to escape. He finds his motivation to escape from the jealousy and anger he feels towards a younger thief who’s stolen his name and seeks to find revenge and a return to being the best Trickster in Central City.
This was an interesting story with details that help the reader to see how James Jesse becomes a criminal. The writer elicits compassion in the reader given James’ experiences. Also, it feels original and important despite that the story is built on a trope of a child raised by abusive parents who becomes a criminal. The reason I believed the story was due to Williamson’s skillful way of demonstrating the shame-based parenting that James endured. The cruelty felt personal, like torture complete with false motives. And, the writer exposes the parent’s false motives, the parent’s get-rich mentality is built on the misfortune of The Grayson Family. You’ll need to read the book to catch the details, but it was a nice tie-in.
The art adds to the emotional depth the story. I was especially impressed by the renditions of James as a child. For example, the artist shows the face of the emotionally tortured James sweating and terrified, while he, fearful of heights, is forced to climb a ladder . This sequence is an example of how well the art supported the story. In addition, the panels showing The Trickster locked in prison, alone, head hanging, visually captures the emotional depth of James’ despair. Finally, the imagery of the father’s circus uniform and its resemblance to The Tricksters future uniform helped to reinforce the idiom like father like son.
Overall = 10/10
This was one of my personal favorites when it comes to DC comic book stories in the past year. Joshua Williamson really excels at plumbing the emotional depths of characters as he does here when flushing out The Tricksters origins as an abused child. I highly recommend this story to anyone interested in The Flash and who appreciates stories that could be useful for children to read, as well.