In Review: Flash: Rebirth #1

Another excellent Rebirth that will please old fans and reintroduce the character to new readers.

The covers: Another pair to collect that follows the pattern set by last week’s Rebirth titles. The Regular cover is by Karl Herschl and it’s an extreme close up of the Flash running at the reader. It’s so close — How close is it? — that all that can be seen is the Speedster’s head, blocked by a blurry right hand because he’s running, and his left shoulder and part of that arm. It’s nice, but I’d like to see the hero clearly, DC. Plus there’s no reason to blur that hand in the foreground, Herschl has drawn the image well enough that any reader can see the character is fast. The coloring on this is very strong, though, with the yellows and reds leaping off the page. The Variant cover by Jason Pearson is much more to my liking. This has the Flash skidding to a stop with his fists raised ready for action. There’s a big grin on his face, telling the reader he’s going to enjoy the impending fisticuffs. What’s neat about this illustration is that there aren’t lighting bolts trailing off the character, even as he’s coming to a stop; instead, there are just a few sparks coming off his feet as he comes to a halt. The pose of the character is also one I haven’t seen before. Overall grades: Regular A- and Variant A

The story: A crime has occurred in the suburbs of Central City: a woman dead, multiple stab wounds, son witnessed the killing, said a monster did it. One detective tells another that the husband seems to be the probable killer. This is when CSI agent Barry Allen interjects and tells the detective not to be too hasty. Just after this exchange Director Singh tells Barry to turn over all the evidence he’s gathered, thinking the similarity between this case and Barry’s past might make it too personal. Barry tells him he’s fine and that’s when he starts to have visions — a red headed speedster in a yellow costume yelling his name and then a monster speedster in yellow yelling “I’m going to kill them all, Flash.” As Singh reaches for him a portal opens before Barry and Zoom appears. Barry activates his suit and rushes at the villain, screaming, “Zoom?! Not again!” This is a dramatic opening to “…Doomed to Repeat It…” by Joshua Williamson. This opening is followed by a brief recap of the hero’s origin, then three pages of some grounding for Barry. The book then shows a key scene from the recent DC Universe: Rebirth #1. Readers who enjoyed that sequence and wanted more get it in this issue. The dialogue between the two characters will keep the Internet buzzing for weeks with all the possibilities that have returned to storytelling, let alone all the headaches this will cause for continuity fans. I’m rolling with this and doing so makes this a solid read. Helping is that Barry goes to visit someone to discuss the reappearance of the individual he’s just encountered/saved. The person that Barry visits had a memorable appearance in Rebirth with the discovery in his cave. This now ups the number to two heroes that realize that something is not right in their universe. This is an incredibly smooth introduction to the Flash if a reader hasn’t read his adventures before and for those who’ve been following Barry for some time will be running along with him. As an old fan, this earns a high grade just for Pages 10 -17. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals by Carmine Di Giandomenico were startling for me the first time I read this book. I’ve not seen the Flash ever illustrated in this format before and I didn’t like it. In fact, I really found the visuals displeasing on my initial read. However, giving it a day and rereading the book, I really like the look of this book. The book begins with a slow pull in to the crime scene, ending with the reader seeing the detectives from Barry’s point of view. On the top of the second page Barry is shown and then Singh joins him. Things are pretty calm as they have their conversation and then when Barry starts to see characters the book amps up the tension. The reveal of Zoom on the fourth page has Barry reacting on impulse, with his rapid change of clothes in the second panel good and the absolute intensity of him in the final panel showing the reader how strongly the hero feels about this villain. Page 6 is a neat full page splash that continues his past, with the logo for him at the bottom really daring. Di Giandomenico really captures emotions well, with them being very subtle beginning on Page 10; the characters’ faces and their stances really match the text. Page 13 is a neat layout with both characters next to each other, but not looking at one another; this compliments the distance between the characters, ending with one matching the gesture that began the page. Pages 16 and 17 is a double-paged spread that solidifies one character’s return to the DC Universe and it’s glorious. The two pages that follow this have the Speedster visiting a very famous ally and the top three panels on 19 stand out for an interesting reason: the bolts of electricity that trail the Flash when he’s running are shown to be zipping around his body even when he’s standing still. I’ve not seen this before and it really reinforces that the Speed Force lives within Barry. This is a different look for the Flash, but one I’m looking forward to seeing more of. Overall grade: A

The colors: Not a lot of bright colors in this issue from Ivan Plascencia and that was a bit of a letdown. One thing The Flash has always been is brightly colored. I like The Flash being colored boldly because he and his adventures don’t have the grimness that seem to accompany other DC books. This book starts at a crime scene at night, so the colors are rightly dim, and things do leap up when he has his visions, but even these are somewhat pale. When Barry changes into the Flash to attack Zoom the colors are dynamic, but again become muted, such as the full paged splash on 6: Barry’s great, but the background around him is lost in the blase choices. Yellows and reds dominate during the big return of a lost character, but the rest of the book comes off as too subtle. I want a brighter Flash story. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Dialogue, story title, opening credits, yells, narration, an editorial note, and the tease for next week come from Steve Wands. The variation among characters’ yells is really good, starting with his first two visions and culminating with Barry’s incredibly loud exclamation on Page 4. Using a different font for Barry’s narration is an outstanding way to visually tell the reader that he or she is reading something other than dialogue. I’m liking what I’m seeing from Wands. Overall grade: A

The final line: Another excellent Rebirth that will please old fans and reintroduce the character to new readers. The highlight is the expansion of the scene between the title character and another hero, which is worth the cover price alone. Overall grade: A-

To learn about the Flash and DC’s Rebirth titles go to http://www.dccomics.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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