Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan van Scriver
Publisher: DC Comics
I’ve always been more of a Marvel Comics fan, and so I can’t claim to know too much about the histories of DC Comics heroes outside of Batman and Superman. But the character of The Flash has always held rather fond memories for me, being the first proper American comic I purchased while on a family holiday in North Carolina. Unfortunately I have no idea which issue it was, but I remember reading it so much to death at the time that it probably decomposed at some point many years ago.
I do however know that The Flash has had a rather stuttering publication history over the last few years, which is surprising given this character’s prestige in the DC Universe, and the different heroes that have inhabited the mantle of The Flash have been received with varying degrees of success. DC are obviously wheeling out the big guns to give the title a turbo-boost this time around, re-uniting two of DC’s most popular and talented creators in Geoff Johns and Ethan van Scriver to spearhead this new series.
The set-up for Rebirth is nothing new, as the super-hero community and the general public plan a series of parties and parades to honour the return of former Flash Barry Allen, which occurred during the recent Final Crisis storyline. Meanwhile, the reappearance of an old villain appears to have shocking implications for The Flash and all those connected with the Speed Force.
As an introductory issue, the story is paced just about right – it’s not easy covering several decades worth of continuity, including multiple incarnations of The Flash, while incorporating other key players in the DCU, but Johns just about manages to hold it all together while providing enough mystery to elicit a view of the future as well as pandering to the past. Perhaps the plot is rather formulaic as a result, but not in a way that inhibits the organic growth of the story. He provides a real human quality to the interactions between a multitude of characters as they reflect on the impact that Allen has had on their lives.
Ethan van Scriver brings a very clean, traditional and classic art style to Rebirth, while in his unique way keeping it contemporary enough to provide a timeless feel. Utilising pitch-perfect characterisation and, most importantly for a book like this, infusing each panel with dynamism and energy, it is hard to think of a better artist within the DC stables to tackle this particular story.
I am sure this series will be a must for any fan of The Flash, especially the long-time advocates of the return of Barry Allen, and the quality of these two DC stalwart creators will surely bring a lot of attention for other readers of the DC Universe. But despite some excellent attempts at making this story accessible, and acknowledging the talent on display throughout the issue, I’m not sure there is enough substance here to sustain a buzz – much less a sonic boom – worthy of attracting a wider audience.
Tags: Flash (Barry Allen)