Today, I’m starting my reviews of the comics that came out the second week of DC’s Rebirth relaunch. First up is Flash: Rebirth #1.
The story starts out with a crime scene where a boy at home witnessed his mother’s death and the police suspect the father. This is not Barry Allen’s origin, but a present day crime scene that the CSI has been called to. Barry’s superior attempts to reassign him to another case due to how closely this incident resembles the circumstances of his mother’s death.
Allen argues with him that he is the most appropriate one to handle it. Suddenly, Barry starts having flashes of Wally and a new speedster. After these, a vision of Zoom appears before him and Barry attacks him. Barry excuses himself from the scene of the crime. Following this is the requisite origin flashback new series have to have.
Returning home, Barry fills his father in on his visions. This seems very reminiscent of the second season of the Flash tv show and I’m totally ok with that. A hero’s parents being dead has passed from superhero cliché to lazy writing. One of the best things John Byrne did in his Superman reboot in the 80’s was bringing back Pa and Ma Kent. Having a hero’s parent around to act as a supporting character and sounding board is now unique. The fact that he’s not keeping his alter ego a secret from him is very refreshing.
We are shown a montage of Flash traveling around helping people out and saving the day. Then, Wally West appears before Barry. This is the scene from DC Universe Rebirth from a couple of weeks ago. There’s nothing wrong with this being in the book, and it should be addressed here because of how important it is for the Flash’s world, but, it doesn’t hit as hard as the original portrayal of this event was. Maybe if more time had passed, but that’s not really feasible for the logistics of this book.
It’s here in the book thought that I noticed that the lightning around Barry is constantly moving. Not just when he is running, but also standing still. It’s a good visual for the character and adds constant motion to the Flash. Barry and Wally catch up a little more here than they did in the Universe special. Barry realizes that they have to tell Iris but Wally prevents him explaining that they have all been robbed of memories.
Their reunion ends as they both run off separately. This seems really odd given the heartwarming scene we were just show. Where is Wally going? In theory he has no home on this world. Why would Barry just let him go? Barry has just remembered Wally and should be adamant about not losing him again. He has a home with his father who already knows of his dual life. This is kind of infuriating and doesn’t feel genuine. I’m assuming Wally is running off to whatever happens in the upcoming Titans book and this move is to accommodate that.
Barry then meets up with Batman in the Batcave to discuss what is going on. They examine the Comedian’s iconic button that Batman now possesses and the letter from Flashpoint Thomas Wayne. Batman and Flash agree to keep the matter between themselves for now, but decide to keep investigating.
Back in Central City, the detectives at the opening crime scene reveal that the husband confessed to his wife’s murder, thereby disproving Barry’s theory. In the street a Speed Force like figure appears and vanishes as an ominous bolt of lighting flashes in the sky.
All in all, this book was pretty good and better than I thought it would be. I wasn’t too crazy about the New 52 relaunch of Flash, so I wasn’t expecting too much here. Honestly, bringing back Wally a.k.a. “my” Flash is a big draw here as he was a character that I missed. The story is good and the art shows a lot of movement, something that is good for a book feature multiple speedsters.
The other thing I hadn’t realized before now is that Dr. Manhattan’s implied involvement in Flashpoint helps absolve Barry of the destruction of the old universe. When they tied the launch of the New 52 in with Flashpoint they committed the crime that a lot of reboots do. When Barry goes back in time to change the past and comes back to an altered present, that means that he fucked up. The same thing happened back in Crisis on Infinite Earths when the Anti-Monitor is destroying the multiverse and they combine the remaining universes into one. When the heroes don’t restore the destroyed universes, that means that on some level, the villain won. Even in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot, the same thing happens. The Romulans travel back in time and alter the timeline. Since the crew of the Enterprise never correct it, they fail. When you do this, you’re building a new universe on the foundation of a failure. What happened in Flashpoint was worse though, because the impetus for the change came from Barry traveling back in time to save his mother and not the machinations of a villain.
Now, with the assumed retcon of Dr. Manhattan manipulating the transition from Flashpoint into the New 52 universe, this helps restore Barry’s character. Ultimately, this probably won’t be out of character for Manhattan, consider what he pulled in the original Watchmen series. Presumably, this is still him orchestrating things just on a larger scale.
The missteps in this issue are minor overall. Having Barry and Wally back together is sure to be a highlight of this book, so I will probably continue to pick this up.