Flash In The Pan?
Just to make things crystal clear…THIS IS NOT THE 2016-2017ish review of DC’s new Rebirth. This a review for the Geoff John’s and Ethan Van Sciver book that was released waaay back in 2009. I’m a bit behind I know.
I’m a HUGE fan of ‘The Flash’ TV show and even did a list of my favourite moments from Season 1 and Season 2 (which can be seen here Top 5 Flash Moments From Season 1 & 2), however, my knowledge of the comic universe is pretty basic. I know about Flashpoint, I know about Wally West, I know about Infinite Crisis I know about Zoom….but that’s it.
Loving the on screen character so much though I really wanted to get up to speed with the source material, so when I got the New 52 Flash Omnibus for Christmas I thought that there was no better time to start reading about the adventures of the Scarlett Speedster.
So follow me as I review MY first ever flash comic and see what I thought it was like for people who may also be wanting to take that leap into the speedforce.
Let’s Get You Up To Speed
First off, Barry Allen is dead….or was. Following the Infinite Crisis storyline from over 20 years ago. Barry ran into the speedforce and was never seen again. Right now he is lost in time. Forever running. The book does a great job of pulling in us newbies and introducing him to the general public whilst keeping tension high throughout.
The book opens on a first person view of a murderer killing two crooked forensic scientists and then replicating the accident that causes speedsters to get their…well…speed. It’s clear this villain is a bad egg from the off and he’s kep in the dark long enough to add to an intrigue throughout the run.
We are then given the news that Barry has returned, there’s no real explanation as of yet which I kind of felt was a bit lacking, especially as someone who wanted to know as much as possible early on in order to fill in the blanks…but..they do give this back story later. I suppose it is a positive that Barry is a bit of a fish out of water as it allows minutia details on what has happened thus far to be given to the reader as it’s delivered to Barry in a natural, story telling way. Throughout the book we see Barry’s life flash before his eyes (pun not intended) and it fills in the blanks for you.
It’s great that Johns, a master of the artform, he doesn’t let Barry see himself as a hero. This mantle is gifted to him by the onlookers around him. The ones who see the good that he has done and know that he is truly someone special. It’s a natural way of making him a legend without out and out saying it and it speaks volumes to the subtlety of the book.
Ofcourse some fans might not like his return. After all Wally West has been The Flash for the last 20 odd years or so, meaning that some readers will have grown up with the character and therefore not want to see the reigns handed over so easily. This is voiced by the character of Bart Allen, he pretty much is the embodiement of all the criticisms that readers may have. Barry voices that he doesn’t really see the point in his return either and it takes some convincing by Hal Jordan to get him back in the running…pun intended. To me this level of audience awareness has always been one of John’s key features and is the main reason that he’s risen through the ranks over at DC. He is wholely aware of the negatives and positives that could surround Barry’s return and addresses them in a humanistic way that is sure to change the mind of even the most die hard Wally West fans.
Red On His Hands
When Barry dons the Red Spandex again it’s a triumphant moment, no question about it. This is quickly crushed however when we see someone escaping the speedforce that dies when Barry touches them. It adds more mystery to the plot and keeps you turning the pages in typical John’s fashion. It’s very comic booky…but very good.
When it’s revealed that Barry infact is now the Black Flash, Death for Speedsters, the book really digs it’s hooks into you. The Justice league have a few cameos, Barry rebuilds his relationship with Iris and it’s all handled really really well. The death that he brings adds to the big question throughout.
Should Barry Allen still be The Flash?
And rebirth answers this with a big YES!
Ofcourse, being The Black Flash might make you feel like you shouldn’t be and when Barry runs off once again to sacrifice himself it’s a very heroic moment. Superman races after him and in one of the books unforgettable moments says that he’s had races with Barry in the past, some of which he has won to which Barry replies
‘Those were for Charity’ and storms off in a bolt of lightening into the speedforce.
It’s a cool moment that subtly shows just how much of a goodguy Barry is. He has power but doesn’t have to flaunt it.
The Big Villain
It’s in the speedforce that we get our big villain reveal. If you hadn’t guessed it (and you should have as i’ve posted lots of pictures of him so far) the villain is none other than The Reverse Flash. Like most comic book villains he explains his big master plan and how he brought Barry back from death to become it. The time travel, like with a lot of time travel stories, is a bit confusing but John’s doesn’t dwell on it too much and the book is gripping enough at this point that it doesn’t lose you. Ofcourse with the inclusion of Time Travel, John’s is able to give The Reverse Flash some gravitas and he let’s the villain become Barry’s ultimate nemesis. Through flashbacks (again pun not intended) we see that the Yellow Speedster has tormented Barry throughout his life, appearing at key moments to hurt him as much as possible. The big twist comes when Zoom admit’s that he killed Barry’s mother. Sure I knew it from the TV show, but it still had an impact and I can imagine at the time that it was a huge revelation.
He states that he’s now going to travel back to before Barry and Iris ever met, murder her and ruin The Flash’s life even further. It’s a dastardly plot that really gets you sweating as you turn from page to page to get to the outcome. All of the Flashes, from Jay Garrick to Wally West get involved to take down the villain it’s great to see everyone working as a cohesive unit with Barry as the spearhead of the group.
This is truly the return of the true Flash!
I’ve been so engaged with the story that I haven’t even mentioned the artwork. It’s stellar and does nothing but add to a terrific book. The entire piece is grounded and Van Sciver has done a brilliant job of surplanting this within the real world whilst keeping it ‘comic booky.’ This is really one of John’s best work and the cliffhangers and revelations throughout are sure to suck in casual and hardcore readers alike. I honestly cannot really fault the book. It’s a great jumping off point for new readers and does nothing more than get you engaged with the character and wanting to read more. Johns has truly modernised the character and I know going forward that we are in for a really good ride.
That’s why I’m giving Flash: Rebirth a….