Spoilers for Flash #762!
You can see the first few pages here.
Well, that’s one way to defeat Eobard, and I’m glad Barry took it. He went the route of forgiveness, and while that in itself wasn’t enough to get through to Eobard, peacefully centring himself in the Speed Force removed Eobard’s status as a paradox and reset him back to his past with no memory of life as the Reverse Flash. The Reverse Flash’s identity is once again unknown in the 25th century, and Eobard is now the kindly curator of the Flash Museum in that era. In other words, it’s what his life should have been had things gone right.
No surprise that Curatorbard’s favourite Flash is Barry, but it’s nice to see that he’s made room for everyone’s favourite Flash; it’s something DC and the readership could learn from. And we see that there’s a Godspeed section of the Flash Museum, which directly contradicts Eobard’s earlier claim that August was completely forgotten by the 25th century. So either history has changed or Eobard was just being cruel to him earlier, and either option is completely plausible.
Obviously, we can guess that at some point things will get undone or Eobard will regain his memory, and Professor Zoom/the Reverse Flash will run again. But this was an effective gamble which managed to avoid all the potential pitfalls we were expecting: Barry doesn’t have the trauma of another murder on his conscience, Eobard isn’t continuing his hellish cycle of death and rebirth (for now), and he doesn’t even have to be trapped in suspended animation like has happened to him and other evil speedsters before. It was the compassionate choice for a man who probably didn’t deserve it, and highlights Barry at his best. I’m honestly really glad he didn’t kill Eobard, even if he ended the man Eobard was – but that man was a threat to all of reality, as we’ve been discussing here recently.
And the other big news is that it seems Hartley and David are getting married! It’s hinted in the barbecue scene, when Linda says to them “did you set a date?” So hopefully that gets followed up on soon by a future writer. Also great to see them hanging out with the Flash Family, which is long overdue.
Plus, Al makes an ominous cameo to set up his story arc after Williamson’s run. He appears to be in prison again like he was before Flashpoint, still with his books, candles, and rats…it’s always been funny how those candles aren’t taken away as a fire hazard, but we know that Al basically does whatever he wants in prison so presumably the authorities have got no choice in the matter.
After the dust has settled, Barry goes to check various aspects of the timeline to ensure things haven’t gone too haywire; as he notes himself, that was a distinct possibility once Eobard was reset. The Renegades, including Commander Cold, are alive and well in the future and the future itself is intact. The Tornado Twins are all right, and Grodd and the Rogues are back in their own eras. What’s interesting – and it may just be an art error – is that Weather Wizard sure looks like his pre-Flashpoint self. However, it may just be a quirk of the art since he only appears in one panel.
And Barry runs past August’s tombstone, finding it still there, but after he leaves its inscription begins to fade. So August may be alive again, and that makes sense because his murder probably didn’t happen now that Eobard has been reset (more on this in a bit). It remains to be seen if another writer wants to pick him up in the future, and what his new status quo would be. Would he ever have betrayed Barry and then redeemed himself, or will they have always been friends? Was his brother still murdered? Time travel and paradoxes make everyone’s head hurt, and that was essentially the point of the story arc with Paradox.
Barry had been interested in solving the murder of Heather Macy before the Legion of Zoom struck, and now finds that she’s alive and well since Eobard was reset back to his good self. He speaks to her briefly, and learns that her husband (who’d previously been sentenced to death for her murder) has the surname of Thawne. That’s interesting and may never be addressed again, but it raises the question of who exactly he is. One of Eobard’s ancestors, perhaps, and maybe even Malcolm Thawne himself…the guy is blond, but we don’t get a close enough look at him to see if he’s Barry’s twin.
We also see Barry talk to his dead mother, and it helps ease some of the grumpiness I’ve had about Barry’s origin since she was killed. I’ve long been cranky about his new motivation to become the Flash, which was an obsession with the past and finding justice for his parents, when originally Barry had two happy living parents and became the Flash just because it was right. Here, Barry tells his mother “I’m the Flash because of what you taught me…because it’s the right thing to do” even though she’s still dead. It just remains to be seen whether DC will actually continue in that direction and leave the doom and gloom behind. I hope they do, though I’m not sure how much I believe they will.
Question is, why is Nora still dead even though Eobard was reset? August is apparently alive again. Did Flashpoint somehow cement her death in the timeline? Or is that plot point so important to DC that nothing can change it :>
I found this a very satisfying issue and finale to a long run on the Flash book. The series had its ups and downs, but I’ll always be grateful for having much of pre-Flashpoint continuity slowly returned in the form of the Flash Family and long-missing Rogues, and concepts like the other Forces were introduced well. And while I love Eobard as Professor Zoom, part of me is sorry that this won’t get to stick as the permanent ending to his story because it really is a great way to finish it forever. I hope he’ll lie fallow for a while and get to be happy in the future before he returns to menace the Flashes again; that’d help with his recent heavy usage and prevent fan fatigue, and ensure that people are jazzed to see him again when he does come back. But we will see.