Thursday, April 2, 2009

Flash: Rebirth #1 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Story - Lightning Strikes Twice

Review
When Flash: Rebirth was announced I was mixed about having Barry Allen return to the DC Universe and from reading this first issue it still does not feel right. For me when I think of the Flash I think of Wally I do not think of Barry but that is because I did not start reading comics until the early 90s.

With that said the thing with The Flash: Rebirth #1 is a case were we get a strong opening, a weak middle, and a strong ending. Though I did not really like 2/3 of the issue the mystery of the Speed Force killing and affecting all the characters that derive their powers from the Speed Force is going to keep me collecting this mini-series. Also it helps that this series has the excellent artwork of Ethan Van Sciver on it. The real test for this series, for me, is if at the end of Flash: Rebirth I will pick up the relaunch of the Flash title(s), because right now I have no interest in reading a Flash title once this series is over.

What is funny about the opening and the ending of this issue is that unlike everything in between those two parts is that it is not a Barry love fest that this issue felt like. Instead it involves everyone that has been involved with the Speed Force in some capacity, past and present. And it feels like this mini-series will hinge on how far this mystery of what is happening to the Speed Force can be stretched through this series without feeling it is being dragged out.

Another part of this story that I found interesting is the Rogues reaction to now there being four different Flash characters around sharing the same space. Out of all the reactions to Barry's return I think the most realistic and exciting part of the characters return. I am really interested to see how the Rogues will try and improve, whether it is by power ups and/or grow in numbers. Hopefully they will get more than an Aquaman Final Crisis appearance on this series, which I they probably wont.

Now as I said the problem is the middle of this issue. Maybe the biggest problem with this issue is the involvement of Bart Allen. I understand that his story of how he returns to the present is suppose to be told in Legion of 3 Worlds. The problem there is that not only am I trade waiting for that miniseries but also it has yet to finish with an actual date for its last issue to come out. And because Geoff Johns is writing both series there is no excuse he cannot reference the fact Bart is back by having Tim and Cassie, his two best friends, either act more surprise he is back or have a conversation with Bart about his return. But again this is what happens when their are such huge delays in comics since it will almost always cause fans to scratch their heads about what is happening in another.

Also I had a problem with Bart's reaction to Barry's return doesn't seem to be similar to what has been established before. In the past Bart has talked highly about his grandfather and how he has always wanted to run next to him as a partner. But now for him to make a complete 360 in attitude doesn't feel right, even though it is because it is supposedly about Max Mercury not being back but Barry is.

My idea is, and what probably Johns is making happen, is that the mystery with what is happening with the Speed Force is affecting all of the Flash characters personalities to turn more negative. Just looking at how Barry, Wally, and Bart were acting throughout this issue it does feel that they are being affected by however is going to be the big bad guy of this series. It just doesn't seem right this is how these characters who have been some of the most positive characters in comics to become so negative.

The second problem I had with this issue is the dialogue of Barry, Hal, and Bart read like conversations I have had about Barry's return with some of my friends. Barry and Bart were basically talking for the Wally fans and Hal was speaking for the Barry fans. Though this did not bother me as much as I think Johns has an interesting idea of making Barry similar to Steve Rogers's man out of time aspect that character used to have but hopefully this does not become a recurring conversation in this title as I have read that dialogue many times before.

I also had a problem with how Johns was trying to make Barry into this God-like character by having all the old JSA members saying how Barry was responsible for bringing them back to being superheroes and how all the other heroes were just gushing over Barry's return. Especially with the JSA scene all of the dialogue felt uncomfortable and felt that it was similar to what Johns did with Hal by putting him over other characters by them speaking super-highly of him or him being put over other A- and B-list characters.

Now the biggest problem I had with this issue is the sudden dark turn of Barry's origin. The Flash family has always had one the more positive origins in comics. In a time were almost every single comic book character has some sort of dark origin were someone was killed, tortured, or something else horrible happen in there past that it is refreshing that at least one group of characters have some sort of positive origin were they use their powers they receive by accident to become heroes because they have that drive to help people because that is who they are. But now that we are presented with a dark origin of Barry Allen, which has never been mentioned in the past stories, it kind of takes away from what makes the Flash Family special within comics. I really hope that this is only fake memories Barry has due to how much time he has spent in the Speed Force and he just has mixed memories of all the different Speed Force users that made him think he has a dark past.

Issue Rating
Story: 6.5/10 - Geoff Johns like always does a fine job getting his character voices down but a lot continuity problems and having characters make Barry into a God-like figure makes the dialogue feel awkward at times.
Art: 9.2/10 - Ethan Van Sciver does an excellent job as always with his artwork and really helps give this series an epic feel that the return of a character of Barry's level deserves.
Overall: 7.85/10 - Even though my review was more on the negative side there was still enough for old and new readers to enjoy from this from the writing and the art side. I am looking forward for the rest of the series to see what role all these different Flash characters will have in the DC Universe at the end of this series.

7 Comments:

Kelson said...

"the mystery with what is happening with the Speed Force is affecting all of the Flash characters personalities to turn more negative"

I like this idea!

I also very much agree that darkening Barry's origin doesn't fit the character. I really enjoyed the book the first time I read it, but this stood out -- and the more I think about it, the more it's overshadowing what I liked about the issue.

Kevin said...

@Kelson: That's what killed this issue for me but the mini-series still has potential to be good as long as this new Barry dark origin stuff isn't a recurring thing in this series.

betty said...

i'm a newbie comic reader, read comics lightly years ago then dropped out. Sp i don't have this baggage of history to covet. I just want a good story told mainly with pictures, a few word balloons, but sort of a quick read. you know a jump on issue thats easy to grasp what is going on. So i didn't like the middle part of this issue because it was like a plodding history of all the Flashes before. The beginning was good with the bad guy causing trouble, then like a book end we see him again at the end. I would like to have had the writer focus on one or 2 big conflicts like the bratish Wally. or what has Barry's wife been up to since he left. The one page of the wife looked more like a Home and Garden advertisement. But I was getting bored with all the many appearances of people I hon't know; Hal, Justice league, rogues, etc. I tried the Cowl and didn't like it for that reason. It was jumping around all different kinds of characters from different comics giving me a headache while i applied my breaks to focus on what the heck is going on everywhere.
The art was gorgeous, loved it.I will probably look at the second issue and hope that it is simpler in plot without tentacles reaching way back everywhere.

Kevin said...

@betty: That's a very good point. I did find it that this issue would be hard to give to a new reader for that fact. It will be interesting to see if Johns continues to focus on Barry and the Flash history or give a tighter focus to the mystery seen at the beginning and end of the issue.

Anonymous said...

If you didn't start reading comics until the 90s and you think of Wally West as the Flash rather than as Kid Flash, then you're not competent to review comic books.

Anonymous said...

"also had a problem with how Johns was trying to make Barry into this God-like character by having all the old JSA members saying how Barry was responsible for bringing them back to being superheroes..."


See, you don't get it. That's exactly what the Flash did in the 60s. Not only was he the first re-imagining of a golden age character into something new, but he was the one to first make contact with his Earth-2 counterpart. The multiverse started with The Flash. That's what this sequence was referring to, and you need to know that if you're going to speak intelligently about comics.

Kevin said...

@Anonymous: I think you got the wrong opinion because I will admit I did start reading comics in the 90s so Wally is my Flash but I have gone back to read all the golden and silver age adventures with Barry as Flash but I just prefer Wally as the Flash as he has taken the Flash character and the Speed Force to the limits. But again this is my opinion and you have yours.

@Anonymous: Actually I do not think that the JSA are referring to that Earth-1 and Earth-2 stuff but that in the new DC continuity Jay and his city were stuck in an alternate dimension by two of his villains and that Barry saved them. Well that is my theory anyways but even if I am wrong it does not mean I should not review comics as I think we should all voice our opinions of comics and I am sorry that if I don't give every issue that you like a 10 but this is my opinion no one elses. Plus DC and Geoff Johns have said that this issue was suppose to be new reader friendly and all the Barry love fest may loose those new readers of the Flash franchise.