Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan van Scriver
Publisher: DC Comics
As I said it, so it is done. Grey is reviewing again! And he’s opening the salvo with the first issue of the Return of Barry Allen, Flash Rebirth!
I think I’ll open with what I liked most about the issue, that being the art. Ethan Van Sciver is always top notch in anything he does, and seeing him pencil more then the random single issue here and there is always a pleasure. I understand they save him for the big things, and I have to say, it works in his case. When I see his name listed as the artist for the issue I know to expect something awesome inside.
Unfortunately, when you get past the art you fall into a story that….fails to meet up to any of it’s own hype. We find out that the cops in Central City that fill Barry’s old job are made up of a good cop, and a rule bending cop, but they both die by the hands of someone with a Flash logo cane who goes about recreating Barry’s experiment and getting zapped by lightning.
From there we get to see the reactions of other Flash’s to his return, which leads to a nice little moment with Jay Garrick where he talks about being around Barry shattered his upper limit and got him running faster then he ever had. There’s Wally trying to adjust, with his kids acting as bratty as humanly possible behind him. And of course, there’s Bart.
That’s right, this issue is Bart’s return to the present, complete with a big banner saying “WELCOME HOME KID FLASH!” and things of that nature. Robin and Wonder Girl show up to greet their formerly dead friend, and the entire page of it is spent with Bart being moody. Bart being moody, and his friends treating his recent ressurection a thousand years in the future like old news. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I wanted to see Cassie break down crying and never want to let him go, especially after the eulogy she gave him in one of the few decent moments of Countdown.
In fact, the book really doesn’t get good until we see Barry and Hal walking through the Flash museum and talking about the past, the present, and the future; and even that scene is almost entirely dependant on the fact that Geoff Johns writes Hal Jordan like no other. That’s right, it’s a Barry and Hal scene in a book about Barry, and Hal carries it. It’s a good thing that Johns writes Hal so well, because his Barry is just…..flat. Yes, he’s a man lost in time who feels he should be dead, one who has no understanding for why. He became part of something bigger during his time away, and now that he’s back he can feel his memories of it fading. Much like Hal Jordan’s memories of the Spectre after Rebirth, if you failed to notice the pattern. And it comes down to Barry not feeling he should be back, and that there is no reason to be back, despite Hal’s attempts at persuading him otherwise.
And then we see what appears to be the Black Flash in an Iowan cornfield, but back to Barry! He goes through the Hall of Villains at the Flash Museum and completely telegraphs the solicited dead speedster by being the first person to mention Savitar in God only knows how many years! And then we get a new development in the character of Barry Allen, now he views every second as precious and possibly his last, so he never wants to miss anything, and he never wants to be late. Barry Allen, the fastest man alive, who was never on time for anything, now swears to be on time. I don’t know what to say about that.
And then there’s the retcon! While in the case of Rebirth, the retcons proved only to make Hal more heroic in his own right, Johns throws in an early trajedy for Barry Allen as it’s now canon that he came home from school one day to find the police hauling his father away for the murder of his mom. Ummm, what? I could have sworn that Barry lived a happy and healthy home life up until he went to college and moved to Central City, so I have to ask if this change is even remotely necessary.
But the conclusion comes with Savitar breaking lose of the Speed Force…..which means jumping out of Barry’s chest and running. Barry is pretty simple minded here, seeing Savitar only as a murderer and as guilty, and then reaches out to grab him. Savitar proceeds to crumble into dust and die as every other person in the DCU to tap into the Speed Force feels a mysterious and painful feedback.
Overall, I have to knock this book down a few pegs due to it’s flaws, but don’t take it as me saying that there are no redeeming values. I’ll definitely read the rest of it, but it just had a weak begining with needless changes and tweaks.
Tags: Ethan Van Sciver, Flash (Barry Allen), Geoff Johns, Grey Scherl, Wally West (Flash)