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Review: "The Flash: Rebirth" #1

In Comic Reviews on April 1, 2009 at 8:46 pm

The Flash: Rebirth #1The Flash: Rebirth #1 (Of 5)

Story:  “Lightning Strikes Twice”

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

Colors: Alex Sinclair (Interior Art, Variant Cover), Moose Brumann (Cover)

When DC Comics did “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, there were deaths galore, but none more poignant than that of DC’s Scarlet Speedster, The Flash, who at that time was Central City police scientist Barry Allen.  Having been cleared of murder charges and retired to the 30th century with his wife Iris at the end of his own series, Barry bravely returned to fight in the Crisis, and gave his life to shut down the Anti-Monitor’s ultimate weapon, an Anti-Matter Ray.

In the time that has passed since, Barry has been replaced by his nephew Wally West, originally Barry’s sidekick Kid Flash.  Wally enjoyed a good run of 200+ issues, and even occasionally interacted with a time traveling Barry from different points in his life.  Wally was even temporarily replaced by Barry’s grandson, Bartholomew “Bart” Allen, who had previously run alongside Wally as both Impulse and the second Kid Flash, though his tenure as Flash ended rather tragically (if you don’t count his recent resurrection.  Oh God, Flash history is confusing, please try and keep up.)

So, Wally has been the definitive Flash since the late 80s.  A whole generation of kids grew up with him.  And while the Flash on the 90s TV series was named Barry Allen, the majority of his characterization came straight from Wally West.  Its been a pretty good experience and, let’s face it, Barry Allen as a presence, a “ghost” who occasionally returns to aid Wally when times are at their darkest, has worked really well.

Unfortunately, Dan DiDio doesn’t seem to think so.  And thus, Barry Allen is back to life.  He was returned in “Final Crisis”, in which we find Barry has returned under mysterious circumstances to outrace Death, and both he and Wally played a major part in the defeat of Darkseid.  And now, with “The Flash: Rebirth” #1, Barry is returned to the core DC Universe, in a world that seems to have quickly caught up to the man who was once the Fastest Man Alive.  Johns and Van Sciver, who previously worked on “Green Lantern: Rebirth” (which brought classic Green Lantern Hal Jordan back to life and active duty) have created an amusing picture of Barry Allen.  While most would expect him to be confused and frightened by a new world, Barry instead seems to be delighted.  With the way technology has helped us in recent years, juggling technology and rushing to errands with time we don’t have, its refreshing to see Barry make the observation that the world is catching up with him, as opposed to the typical “TECHNOLOGY EVIL!” approach usually handled in the return of long dead heroes.

The core aspect of the issue is focusing on Barry’s resurrection and the affect he has had on those around him.  Barry is not even seen for the first half of the book, but instead a moment is taken for Jay Garrick (the original Flash) and Wally to share their moments, and for Bart to voice his concerns.

Now with all that being said, let’s face the simple facts: nothing big really happens until the last page.  Yes, that’s typical of a first issue, but the bulk of this issue is about Barry’s return and the effect its had on the world.  Its an issue for the long time Flash fans, but newcomers are likely to wonder why they’re supposed to care about these characters.  Add to this a corpse resembling the Black Flash, whose presence and being is unexplained, and the surprise reappearance of one of Wally’s old villains in the final pages, one who hasn’t shown up since the 90s, and you have a book that’s a love letter for fans, and a difficult jumping on point.  Hell, Barry’s origin story isn’t even recapped in this issue, but is merely alluded to and referenced by a mysterious villain recreating it in the book’s opening pages.

Regardless, its a title that shows promise.  The book’s final pages show big changes coming for the Flash family of heroes, as one speedster you didn’t expect is killed and the Speed Force appears changed forever.  What’s Barry’s connection to this, and can he stop it from killing the other heroes tapping the Speed Force?  We’ll find out soon enough.  “The Flash: Rebirth” is a five issue mini-series on sale monthly from DC Comics.

Final Grade: B-

I’m a huge Flash Fan, so I want to give this an A, but realistically, its a typical first issue.  A good chunk of exposition with a little action to mix it up.  Hopefully next issue will be a little easier to digest.

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  1. I want to be happy for Barry’s return, but I’m too upset because I know soon Wally will be joining Kyle Rayner and Connor Hawke in Marginalization Hell.

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