No. 0: The Flash: The Human Race
This trade is actually two stories, “The Human Race” and “The Black Flash”. I enjoyed the former, not the latter.
In “The Human Race”, Wally West — The Flash — is chosen by some intergalactic gamblers to run in an unending race through space and time. The stakes for the gamblers are inconsequential; the stakes for the runners all important: when you lose, your planet is destroyed. It’s a message about harmony and coming together in a crisis, in which the world’s support actually helps the Flash run faster.
“The Black Flash” is…uninspiring. For “speedsters”, like the Flashes, Jesse Quick and Max Mercury, death comes in the form of a demon in a black Flash uniform (complete with bolt logo and antennae). One of the heroes discovers that Wally is next, and manages to save him, with dire consequences. But, as we’ve all learned from Final Destination, Death gets the one it wants; so the Black Flash comes back for Wally. There are some decent teamwork scenes, but it comes down to Wally running fast.
While the first part is uninspiring, the resolution is just plain strange, and involves running 20 billion 100 million (he was quite precise) years into the future to a moment that is at once the end of time and the second big bang: “The end of life, the universe and everything…where death ceases to exist even at a conceptual level.” In the next panel he refers to the entropy of the universe (which is death, essentially) without irony.
And of course, somehow the Flash manages to survive this trip to “the end”…all while dropping “Flash Facts” and misstating the color of his own boots. Not great, but Morrison gets a free pass once in a while based on the quality of his other work.