The great rebirthening continues at DC and we’ve got a group review for you! This time it’s a little different though. We’re limiting it to just four writers so that you’re not drowning in opinions. Now, let’s get to it! [su_quote]Synopsis: Flash gets rebirthed. Also, if you didn’t read DC Universe Rebirth #1, then you’re going to get some recapping in this issue that finds Barry dealing with a murder case that resembles his mother’s![/su_quote]
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art is perfect for a Flash book. In tandem with the frenetic sheen of Wan Placencia’s colors, Di Giandomenico’s sinewy line work may be still, but it rumbles with the fidgety energy of a rotoscope animation. It’s lithe and sharp and electric; and it has a contained hurry, which, again, is pretty fucking appropriate, thematically-speaking. Oh, and also? That Karl Kerschl I’m-already-up-in-your-face-cause-I’m-The-fucking-Flash cover art is wicked as hell.
Unlike the art, Joshua Williamson’s story wasn’t in as much of a rush. And actually, given that it was mostly a catch-up (if you’ll pardon the running pun) and exposition dump, it wasn’t bad! It treated Barry’s character respectfully and manicured each of his relationships succinctly but satisfyingly, fleshing Barry out well in the first pass. I’m still not completely sold on these Rebirth issues, treating them instead like glorified zero issues. But as far as the post-New 52-icide books go, The Flash: Rebirth#1 definitely gets first place.
I’m super torn on this issue. Wally West is my Flash. The Post Crisis/Pre New 52 Flash. I grew up with him and loved that he grew up as well. I hated that he was cast off because Geoff Johns decided boring Barry Allen needed to be Flash again, even though the most interesting thing he ever did was die saving the multiverse. But now Wally is back! And he remembers all that happened before the New 52. But no one else but Barry does? Also Batman is investigating a similar case that is obviously Watchmen and now Barry and Batman are teaming up to solve the case. So what does this mean to the New 52 Wally West? Or the New 52 as a whole? Why is Watchmen involved? Is this all super awesome or just needlessly confusing?
I’m really not sure. Let’s simplify this.
The good: Wally West is back. Batman and Flash as science detective buddies is pretty neat. The two-page spread of the two Flashes is awesome, paying homage to Flash of Two Worlds will always make me smile. Flash is so frequently late even his attempts to be early are bad, he shows up to a date a day early. The art.
The confusing: How is Wally back? Why doesn’t anyone else remember everything besides him and Barry? Is this just undoing everything else? Why Watchmen?
The bad: All of the interactions Barry has with the cops he works with. Feels weird and off. The cops are randomly jerks or needlessly wasting space.
So, I think one big problem with these Rebirth issues is that they feel less like full issues and more like a second set of those 8 page previews DC put out for its DCYou re-launch (if you don't remember that, no worries, it didn't last long). The Flash issue is less a coherent 20-page story than it is an amalgamation of disparate declarations about what the comic will be going forward. Established is the following: the continuity will resemble the CW show just enough to get teenage girls to pick up a copy without confusion, the continuity will take into account older comics just enough to for 30-something comic readers to pick up a copy with enjoyable confusion, and finally, the continuity will involve whatever the hell is going on in that core Rebirth issue just enough to make neither of the previous groups particularly interested.
That probably sounds a little meaner and more cynical than I intended it, but I have read a bunch of these DC relaunches recently, and it's a little too easy to see the editorial mandates. This particularly issue is so busy establishing 'important' pieces of continuity, that it has no story of note beyond a re-tread of the much over-used 'Barry's Mother was murdered' material. In a word, this issue represents nicely what is bad about superhero comics and, potentially, what isn't working about Rebirth.
Barry Allen investigates a murder that reflects the same scenario that took Barry’s mother many years ago. Visions of the past plague Barry all the while. In an encounter with one such vision, Barry grabs Wally West/Kid Flash and pulls him from the vision into his world. Hilarity ensues.
After the two speedsters race around and share some quality Speed Force bonding time, Barry, alone, runs to the Batcave to chat with Batman. Here’s where the critical element of the Rebirth comes together. Bruce investigates The Comedian’s bloody pin that shows strange radiation and has somehow appeared in this DC reality.
And here’s where The Watchmen universe begins to blend into the DC core universe.
Like the Superman Rebirth issue, Flash just doesn’t have anything happen. Pulling Wally into this reality does make a significant impact, but no Flash villains step up to fight.
All of these DC comics seem to serve to set up a simple, one-trick-pony kind of story. Generally, DC knows how to develop stories. Way back when Doomsday fought Superman, the creature appeared in small cameos at the end of the various Superman comics. Now, we have entire books—instead of single panels--focusing on the one element of latest plot point. That’s just poor planning.
Flash has been handled so well in the past. Face it: he’s a guy who runs fast. That’s all. But he has a great rogue gallery, excellent peripheral characters, and tense conflicts. In the Rebirth, he’s nothing more than a set-up for a punch line that won’t satisfy. But that’s not solely this book; all the Rebirth books have been suffering this same fault.
To this point Rebirth seems more like a still birth.
--BONUS 5th REVIEW!!!
I had to jump in on this because someone needed to say just how damn fucking good this issue was! But hey, that’s why I love our group reviews. We’re all so different and yet we get along… kind like how the comic community should… wink… wink.
If you’ve ever read my bio, then you know that I love comics. I love them. I run a comic book review website and it makes me no money and it certainly hasn’t brought me any fame. But I love comics. Not so much superhero comics anymore as I’ve all but quit Marvel and DC (I hate even calling them the big two anymore). But much like with DC’s New 52, I find myself curious about this reboot. Unlike Marvel’s soft reboots, which are more like creative shifts and an excuse to start a new volume, DC’s Rebirth seems like it has actual changes to the entirety of the universe. I’m not here to argue if they’re in this mess because of themselves, just that it doesn’t feel like a “Now” or an “All-Different” has been slapped on the front of the cover to move issues.
What does any of this have to do with Flash? Well, like I said, I don’t read superhero comics. I’ll dabble on an issue here or there, but I’m usually done by the third issue of any given series. I plan on reading The Flash for a lot longer than that. Even with the little bit of DC Universe Rebirth overlap, this issue was great. In fact, it made that issue better because of what Joshua Williamson added. The only thing that makes me uneasy is if Carmine Di Giandomenico isn’t on the series as the regular because the art is amazing and the perfect fit for the tone and style of this Flash book. I loved it the minute I saw it and it washed the bad taste out of my mouth that has been there for so many years now.
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Writer: Joshua Williamson Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 6/8/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital