The Flash: Rebirth #1

The Flash: Rebirth #1Like most readers, I felt disappointed after reading this issue. Sure, superheroes come back from the dead all the time, but Barry Allen, who for a generation of readers wasthe Flash, was dead for a long time. He gave his life to save the world, or worlds, from the Anti-Monitor in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. Virtually unseen since then, Barry’s mantle was taken over by his nephew Wally West. In my mind, Wally isthe Flash, and then when Bart Allen showed up as Impulse, and later Kid Flash, that was enough to fulfill my speedster requirements. So why bring Barry back? Good question.


And it’s one that goes unanswered here. Writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver are a great dynamic duo, and they brought Hal Jordan back to the land of the living in Green Lantern: Rebirth 5 years ago. That was a phenomenal, meaningful, action-packed series, and as much as I grew up enjoying Kyle Rayner as GL,it was great to see Hal return. That’s not the feeling I get here. There’s enough of a framework constructed for future issues to build upon, but I can’t really say I’m entirely interested. I’ll keep paying attention though, only because Johns is an expert story builder, and Van Sciver’s art is impressive here, as always, with it’s fluidity and extreme motion. At last year’s Comic-Con I sat in on the panel where Van Sciver explained his enthusiasm for this series and his interpretations of the Speed Force. I look forward to seeing that more than anything else in this series. 

This is an issue not for newbies, with it’s abundant guest stars (primarily the JSA) and the complicated relationships Barry has with other speedsters (exactly how did Bart get resurrected, and why his anger at Barry’s return?). I can only hope this series will become more focused in the future, and I am somewhat intrigued to see how the DCU adjusts to this latest development.

Not much happens here though. Basically Barry talks with Hal at the Flash Museum, and various other spandex wearers talk about Barry, filling in a few details about him along the way for perplexed readers. I was happy to see the return of Savitar, a villain I haven’t seen in years, and the surprises that the Speed Force holds are intriguing. THough the revelation about Barry’s father-not so much. The ads for this series have claimed that Barry is back and it’s the worst thing that could’ve happened to him. How that plays out will be mildly intriguing, but I guess after the spoils of GL: Rebirth, I was expecting more. This is a slow build rather than a shot out of the gate, but Johns can usually be trusted. I hope he knows what he’s doing.

Ethan Van Sciver Panel

Ian Sattler from DC Comics never turned up, but Van Sciver went ahead without a moderator anyway and did a splendid job. I remember his indie days back in the 90s as creator of Cyberfrog. How much has changed since then, not only his success as an artist, but also his ability. Comparing his work on DC from the last few years to his earlier work makes it look like two different artists.

At the panel, he talked about his exclusive work for DC Comics, mainly centered on the expanding mythology of Green Lantern and his current work on the Sinestro Corps off-shoot, Blackest Night, where he is designing thousands of different GL costumes from every sector of the galaxy. Yes, he’ll be a busy boy for a while. He also expanded on the recently announced, Flash: Rebirth mini, which he’ll be working on with writer Geoff Johns. It will be six issues and will focus on Barry Allen’s return to the DCU, after his noble sacrifice twenty years ago in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Similar to the Green Lantern: Rebirth series from a few years ago, (also written by Johns) which followed Hal Jordan’s return as the foremost GL, this mini will follow Barry as he integrates in to society. He then asked for the audience to respond to Barry’s return. So we did with a round of applause. Van Sciver seemed relieved. He also excitedly mentioned that the last issue of Rebirth will show us the Speed Force in a way that’s never been seen before. The words, “in real-time,” were used, so how he manages that is anyone’s guess. Should be great.

He likens Barry to King Arthur and current Flash Wally West (and nephew of Barry) to Lancelot, and assured that us that Wally was not going anywhere. Fans had similar concerns about GL Kyle Rayner when Hal returned, so it’s great to see the Flash I grew up with is staying put. He will also redesign Wally’s costume, to set him apart from Barry, and compared Sinestro to Hitler, in that he’s a sadistic, egotistical madman. His aim is to never draw Sinestro smiling to show his dark side. Working with Johns has been an encouraging experience for him and he’s allowed himself to be more forthcoming with ideas to Johns, despite fear of rejection. It seems to be working, as his idea of opening up the “emotional spectrum,” to include rings other than of the green variety propelled Johns to scribe the epic and ongoing Sinestro Corps War. They have plans for a while yet and Van Sciver was surprisingly deep when talking about what each colour represented, from greed and hatred, to fear and hope. He’s obviously an artist that thinks deeply about his work and what fresh directions any given story can head towards.

After talking about Flash and GL for most of the hour, he expanded on further topics, including an odd Superman lawn sprinkler from his youth, being influenced by Moebius on his interprettion of Batman (with an emphasis on the Bat), and following penciller Frank Quietly on New X-Men in his short, but unsatisfying run with Marvel.

The hour sped by and Van Sciver seems to be enjoying his relationship with DC and creative collaboration with the extraordinary Johns. I’m glad to see his detailed and dynamic pencils will grace the pages for an exciting future.

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