Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Scriver
Colorist: Rob Leigh
Story - Dead Run
While I had my problems with the first issue of Flash: Rebirth, specifically with the unnecessary dark turn in Barry Allen's origin, I still thought it was a solid start to the mini-series. But the second issue of this mini-series is something that no Flash issue should be: slow.
Other than the origin of Barry's bow tie (you read that right) and the final page there wasn't any new developments in this issue. Almost everything that Barry and Wally points out in this issue is the same exact thing that Barry pointed out in the first issue. And the truth is that if it wasn't for Ethan Van Scriver's amazing artwork this would have been yet another slow and boring issue that is clearly made for the eventual trade paperback and not for a monthly comic book, which is a trend with Geoff John books lately.
Now this is not to say Johns isn't going completely wrong with the return of Barry Allen. Johns has so far, through these two issues, been able to establish who Barry is as a character that reminds old readers and informs new readers to why Barry is seen by some as the true Flash. Through both Wally and Bart's versions of the Flash, the character of Flash has been seen as a Spider-Man type character who will joke around with his villains and take everything as it comes to them. And this can be attributed to both Wally and Bart first starting of their superhero careers as sidekicks, so when it was their time to take the Flash role they already had a more relaxed nature due to their experiences of learning what to do and not do from their mentor.
But Barry is a completely different Flash. Unlike Wally and Bart, Barry was a guy in his mid-twenty's who already had an education and a career in science that help shape his mentality as a man of science. Because of his science background Barry is a much more methodical Flash as he continues to believe there is a scientific answer to everything. And as a police forensics scientist Barry sees everything as black and white not grey like Wally and Bart.
Also with taking a similar role to Steve Rogers when he came back to the Marvel Universe after being frozen Barry is taking up a man out of time persona as he is still trying to get used to being back. And as can be seen with the scene between Barry and Iris, Barry is still uncomfortable with being back because unlike when Hal came back there wasn't anything technically wrong with the Flash characters and it is actually his return that is causing an instability in the Speed Force.
It is just to bad that Johns did not explore more of what is going wrong with the Speed Force in this issue. As I said before other than the final page there was almost nothing new coming out of this issue. The whole issue is basically Barry thinking about what is wrong with the Speed Force, just like in the last issue. Even the dialogue between Barry and Hal was similar to the last issue. With the amount of dialogue in this issue it actually felt like I was reading a Bendis New Avengers issue. When it comes to a Flash comic it should never feel like it has a slow pace but that is how this issue felt like.
While I understand that Johns is trying to reestablish Barry as the Flash to old and new fans he has forgotten that he also has to reestablish the Flash franchise as a whole since this has been an franchise that has been unstable for a while. But instead of also building up the other Flash characters like the returning Bart, Jay, or Wally's kids this series still feels like a dedication to Barry. Other than Wally who appears for the final six pages, where he gets his ass kicked, along with Barry all of the Flash characters only get one panel each that only shows them being tested by their teammates for what happened to them in the last issue.
And this lack of panel time is only made worse with Johns basically wasting a page and a half on a flash back that tells the origin of why Barry wears bow ties. Really, the origin of the bow tie gets more panel time than Bart or Jay? Really? Talk about a complete waste of panel space that could have been better used to develop the other characters involved in this mini-series that are not named Barry.
Speaking of the flashback, am I the only one that continues to wince at the sudden dark turn in Barry's origin story. As soon as the young Iris brought up the fact that Barry, before he became Flash, was still searching for the answer of who really killed his mom I just couldn't help but shake my head in disappointment with how every comic book character needs to have a dark origin to be interesting in the eyes of the writer, in this case Johns. Giving a character a dark origin just reeks of a writer being uncreative in this era of storytelling. I really would like to read a book, comic book, or manga were the hero of the story doesn't have some sort of dark origin and is a hero because he has the drive to be one. And the Flash characters used to be that way but know they are just another set of characters that are heroes because of something dark that happened in their past.
But the biggest problem I am having with this series, as of this issue, is the lack of an actual physical threat in the story. Sure we have the mystery of what is going on with the Speed Force but were is the actual villain(s) of this story. So far the biggest threat to the Flash characters, other than the Speed Force, was Savitar and his follower Christina Alexandrova who were treated as nothing more than cheat way to build up Barry as the new Black Flash since both characters died as fast as they appeared. Johns not only needs but has to start building up the Rogues since whatever is happening with the Speed Force also affects the Rogues as they need to start finding a way to deal with there being at least four Flashs around. But this again can be attributed with Barry being the main focus for about 95% of the series so far. If this series is to last for three more issue Johns needs to give us some other threat than just the Speed Force. And because this mini-series is leading towards the eventual relaunch of the Flash ongoing title Johns needs to also start building up the Rogues during this mini-series.
Story: 5/10 - Johns slow and methodical approach to this issue was a complete time waster that he needs to resolve in the next and future issues.
Art: 9.2/10 - Scriver continues to show why he is one of the top artist in the business as he deliver plenty of amazing artwork.
Overall: 7.1/10 - This was a very disappointing issue that only benefits from having Scriver's pick up the slack with his excellent artwork. After these two issues that have taken a slow burn approach to Barry's return Johns has no excuse but to pick things up and start developing other characters than just Barry. We need an actual physical threat to go along with what is happening Speed Force.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009