Spinning out of DC Universe Rebirth #1, DC is giving readers a bunch of #1 issues under the “Rebirth” banner. Are these issues nothing more than cheap cash grabs by DC that offer next to zero change? Kind of like those Zero Hour issues back in the day that often had no connection to Zero Hour nor did the issue make any changes to the character or the character’s continuity. Honestly, I am expecting these issues under the “Rebirth” banner to be more like those Zero Hour issues rather than issues that truly pick up where DC Universe #1 left off and institute some serious continuity changes. If there is going to be any title that really focuses on the aftermath of DC Universe Rebirth #1 it certainly would be Flash Rebirth #1. Let’s hit this issue and find out.
Words: Joshua Williamson
Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors: Ivan Plascencia
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin at a crime scene in Central City. We see a blood splattered sheet over the corpse of a woman who has been stabbed to death. The victim’s son saw the whole thing. (Yeah! This is definitely the brighter and more positive DCU that Johns waxed poetically about in Rebirth #1!)
The son says that a “monster” murdered his mom. Of course, the police detectives dismiss the boy’s statement as that of a kid traumatized by what he just witnessed. The detectives assume that the husband killed the “vic.” Barry then interrupts the detectives and says that the “vic” has a name. And that they should not rush to judgment. The detectives apologize realizing that this crime scene is eerily similar to how Barry’s mom was murdered.
Director Singh appears on the crime scene. Singh tells Barry that he is being taken off the case. (What?! Already! The murder just happened! And the Director of the forensic department heads out to every single solitary murder scene?) Singh says that this case is too personal for Barry. (Personal? Did it involve a family member or friend? Really?)
Barry says that he is the best man for the job to make sure that this murder investigation is properly handled so that it does not take 15 years to solve the murder like it did with his mother’s murder.
Singh then invites Barry to dinner. Barry says that Hartley put Singh up to the dinner invite. Singh admitted that Hartley did but that the invite is from both of them. Suddenly, Barry starts getting images of a white costumed speedster in lighting saying, “I’m going to kill them all, Flash.” And then an image of the real Wally West calling out to Barry.
Singh asks if Barry is okay. Barry looks at Singh but instead sees Reverse Flash in front of him. Singh says that this is what he was worried about. Singh tells Barry to take the rest of the night off.
Barry sees himself as the Flash grabbing Reverse Flash from behind and trying to kill Zoom while yelling “Zoom?! NOT AGAIN!” Flash grabs Zoom’s neck. Suddenly, everything snaps back to normal. Singh says he is pulling Barry off the case. Barry says that he is fine and that he just had a headache. Barry says he is going to go to the crime lab to analyze the evidence. (Huh? Wait, didn’t Singh just pull Barry off the case?)
Barry then recounts his origin of how he became the Flash. Barry retells how Thawne killed his mother and that his father got framed for the murder. That his father served 15 years in prison until Barry defeated Thawne and cleared his father’s name.
Since Barry’s dad was released from prison he has become Barry’s sounding board. We cut to Barry at his dad’s house. Barry shows his dad the autopsy prelim report from the crime scene. Barry’s dad says that he isn’t a crime expert. That he is just a doctor who lost his license 15 years ago.
Barry reveals to his dad that he has been having visions. That they are like waking nightmares. Barry’s dad says that Barry is probably still just trying to process having capturing his mother’s killer. That his mother’s case was such a big part of Barry’s life and now it is closed.
Barry replies that it felt like something different. Like the Speed Force was trying to warn him about something. Barry’s dad replies that such an act would require the Speed Force having some kind of mind of its own. Barry’s dad asks if anyone has tried researching the Speed Force.
Barry answers that there is a treaty between A.R.G.U.S. and S.T.A.R. Labs and the Justice League that the Speed Force is off-limits. That there will be no experiments. (Well, that certainly seems to be the logical approach to something as powerful as the Speed Force that grants Barry all of his powers.)
Barry’s dad says that Barry is working too much overtime and the current case is dredging up old bad memories. Barry’s dad says that Barry is just like his mom. And that they both stressed too much.
We cut to Barry splitting his time between working, dating Iris Allen and performing his job as the Flash beating bad guys and rescuing people from disasters.
We see the Flash running along when suddenly the real Wally West appears on the scene. We now get an exact rehash of the final scene from Rebirth #1 when Wally West appears to Barry and Barry saves Wally, pulls him into the N52 and then Barry gets all of his memories back from the real DCU that existed prior to Flashpoint.
Barry says that he needs to tell this to Iris. Wally tells Barry to not tell Iris. Wally says that nobody recognizes him other than Barry. Not even Wally’s wife, Linda, recognizes him. Wally says that he is not ready to tell Iris. Wally says that he cannot go through having Iris not recognize him like he did with Linda.
Barry says that they need to find out who did this to them. (I already know that answer. Dan Didio and Jim Lee. The real evil masterminds behind it all. Mystery solved. You are welcome.) Wally says that he is going to look up the rest of the Teen Titans and see what they know.
Barry then says that Wally is going to need a new suit. That he is not Kid Flash anymore. That Wally is a Flash. Wally says that he will use the Speed Force to manifest a new costume. Barry says that he forgot that they could use the Speed Force that way. Wally laughs at Barry still using the ring for his costume.
Barry says that he is going to go meet with Batman. Barry tells Wally that if he discovers anything or if he is in trouble…but before Barry can finish Wally says that Barry does not even need to say it. Wally says “I’ll find you.”
Barry and Wally then race off in different directions. (Well, damn. That was quick. I figured Wally might need a place to stay, clothing, food, etc and would decide to stay with THE ONLY PERSON WHO REMEMBERS HIM AND IS FAMILY.)
Barry thinks how Wally believes that Barry brought Wally back. However, the truth is that Wally brought Barry back. We see Barry arriving at the Batcave. Batman is already examining the letter from Thomas Wayne that Barry gave Batman after Flashpoint and comparing it with the Watchmen pin that Batman found in Rebirth #1. Barry says that he and Batman talk for a long time and share their theories. (None of this do we actually get. All of this takes place in four panels.)
Barry says that he has not stood this still in years. Barry says that he and Batman want to tell the Justice League but they are not sure what they would be telling them. So they decide to hold off for now. Batman’s tests reveal that the blood on the Watchmen pin has traces of a radiation unlike anything they have ever seen. Barry says that this entire thing feels so much more personal.
Batman says that they do not know enough, yet and that it would be unwise to rush to judgment. That they should keep quiet but keep investigating this together. We see Barry racing off from the Batcave.
We cut to the crime scene from the beginning of the issue. The two detectives talk about how they will not need the results from Barry. That the husband has confessed. One of the detectives says that Barry Allen has too much going on and something Barry makes mistakes.
We then see a blurry yellow figure appear outside of the crime scene. It looks like Reverse Flash. End of issue.
The Good: Flash Rebirth #1 is an issue that did a lot of things well but not in a particularly interesting fashion. To be sure, out of all of the issues coming out under the Rebirth banner this one issue that actually deals with the contents of DC Universe Rebirth #1. Of course, that is to be expected given the central role that Barry played in Flashback and in DC Universe Rebirth #1.
Flash Rebirth #1 plants the seeds for whatever big event involving the Watchmen that DC has planned for the future. The scene with Barry and Batman investigating the Watchmen pin and the letter from Thomas Wayne lets the reader know that the events of DC Universe Rebirth #1 will actually be dealt with at some point. However, this scene makes it clear that the plot lines from DC Universe Rebirth #1 will be progressed using a slow burn method. That it will be a year or two before anything really heats up with whatever story involving the Watchmen that DC has cooked up for readers.
Flash Rebirth #1 is certainly new reader friendly. The reader does not need to have ever read a single issue of the Flash. Hell, the reader does not even need to have ever read DC Universe Rebirth #1 in order to understand and enjoy this issue. Williamson re-delivers four pages taken directly from Rebirth #1. So, Flash Rebirth #1 deserves credit for providing an excellent jumping on point for new readers with zero knowledge of the Flash or of DC Universe Rebirth #1.
Williamson effectively presents the reader with Barry’s origin, his basic personality and his motivations to be a hero. Williamson also delivers the basic mission statement for this title so that new readers can understand exactly what they can expect from this title in the future. Williamson tops it all off by clearly introducing the new reader to Barry’s main villain: Reverse Flash. Williamson deserves credit for carrying out every single objective of an issue with a “#1” on the cover.
While I wish that Williamson had Barry remember more from his pre-Flashpoint continuity. And I also wish Williamson had Barry more impacted by the sudden knowledge of a past that was stolen from him. But, there were some neat moments. I like that Barry had a vision of the moment where he killed Reverse Flash by snapping his neck from back in 1983 in Flash #324. I also liked the little moment where Barry suddenly remembers that the Speed Force can create whatever costume that he wants was fantastic. Wally’s reaction of disbelief that Barry was still using his ring to house his costume was great. This is a small moment that made me feel like I was seeing the real DCU once again. I hope that Williamson continues to deliver more of these moments as we move forward.
Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art was solid. Di GIandomenico’s style of art is not one of my preferred styles. There are times where the art looks too loose and sloppy. Also, many of the panels are a bit drab and lack detail. However, Di Giandomenico certainly can draw excellent looking speedsters that crackle with energy.
The Bad: Flash Rebirth #1 was a bit of a boring read. There is no doubt that Williamson makes this issue new reader friendly and definitely carries out all the necessary tasks of a #1 issue. Unfortunately, Williamson does it in a boring fashion. This issue feels like a lukewarm rehash for a reader who has been reading Flash for a while and also read DC Universe Rebirth #1. It is possible to carry out all of the tasks that Williamson was assigned to with this issue and still deliver it in an exciting fashion for long time and new readers.
The entire story came across formulaic and dull. Williamson carried out his tasks but did so without any style, flair or excitement. Not much interesting or new happened in this issue. The plotting was suspect. Williamson simply rehashed Barry’s origin and re-delivered the climactic scene from DC Universe Rebirth #1. The only real new plot progression came in the short scene with Batman and Barry talking about the events of DC Universe Rebirth #1 and then the final page of the issue. And those two moments of plot progression were not that exciting.
The scene with Barry and Batman was anti-climactic since Williamson chose to superficially tell the reader what occurred in this meeting. It would have been far more satisfying if Williamson had expanded the scene a bit, delivered more detail and showed the readers instead of telling. This scene should have been the climax of this issue. This should have been a powerful pivotal scene full of emotion and excitement. Instead, it felt like a shallow and cursory effort that did not convey the gravitas that the Watchmen plot line deserves.
The final page also did little for me. At this point, I am getting tired of Reverse Flash. It seems like Eobard Thawne is the only villain that Barry has dealt with since Barry came back to life in Flash: Rebirth. Now, we know that Barry captured Thawne so maybe this is an interesting new wrinkle. Or maybe we are getting the old Barry vs. Thawne feud again.
Another reason that Flash Rebirth #1 lacked any real emotion and felt a bit lifeless was due to the poor character work. All of the character are rather bland. Nobody has much of a textured or compelling personality. Williamson is unable to generate much chemistry between any of the characters. The dialogue does not help any, either. All of the dialogue is pedestrian at best. Therefore, scenes that relied heavily on dialogue instead of action, like the scene between Barry and his father, were dry and boring.
Overall: Flash Rebirth #1 was an issue that has followed up on Rebirth #1 far more than any subsequent title with the Rebirth banner on the cover. Flash Rebirth #1 is new reader friendly and is absolutely a fantastic hopping on point if you are new to this title. If you have ever been interested in checking out the Flash then Flash Rebirth #1 is a perfect issue to start. I would recommend this issue for new readers. For long-time readers or even relatively recent readers? I would pass on Flash Rebirth #1. Nothing new of any real substance occurs in this issue at all.