DC Comics continues their line-wide relaunch this week with the second batch of Rebirth one-shots. These issues set the status quo for the company’s characters before they’re launched in new series. The Flash Rebirth #1, by writer Joshua Williamson and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico, was one of the most highly anticipated of this second wave, as many fans hoped it would cast some light on the major revelation at the center of DC Universe Rebirth #1.
The issue begins with forensic scientist Barry Allen aka The Flash on the scene of a murder that bears a striking similarity to the death of his mother. After he finishes gathering evidence, he has a vision of the Reverse Flash, the man who murdered his mother, attacking him. Spooked, Barry goes and speaks to his father, who tells him that it’s just his mind playing tricks on him. Unconvinced, Barry continues thinking of the vision as he does super-heroic deeds as The Flash. Barry has another set of visions which culminate in the reappearance of the original Wally West, as seen in DC Universe Rebirth #1.
After a replay of the aforementioned DCUR #1 scene, Barry and Wally further discuss the latter’s revelations of the universe being tampered with and memories being removed. They split up, with Wally heading off to see if the Teen Titans remember him while Barry goes to check in with Batman, though they vow to be there for each other if either needs. The story moves to Flash and Batman discussing how the universe was altered, with Bruce tying it into The Comedian‘s button which he discovered in the bat cave in DCUR #1. They agree to keep the matter from the rest of the Justice League until they can get more information. The issue ends with a reveal that should set in motion the first arc of the upcoming new series.
The Flash Rebirth #1 was a really enjoyable comic to read. Joshua Williamson has a good handle on the character of Barry Allen and what makes the concept of The Flash work. His Barry Allen is very in-tune with the classic do-gooder version of the character, while at the same time incorporating subtle elements that would be recognizable to viewers of the character’s CW television series. Williamson also does a fine job incorporating and expanding on the Barry/Wally scene from DC Universe Rebirth #1. The visions are a novel way of showing that the Speed Force was attempting to help Barry remember and reestablish contact with Wally. I also enjoyed the extension of the scene, showing Wally and Barry recording and joking a bit. It further establishes that the two are reunited family members, as opposed to just super hero allies. Finally, while the Batman/Flash investigation is given little page time, I really like the story development of the two working together. It deftly lays the groundwork for an eventual confrontation between the normal DC heroes and Doctor Manhattan.
While I greatly enjoyed the plot and story of The Flash Rebirth #1, I was a bit lukewarm on the artwork. There’s nothing technically wrong with Di Giandomenico’s work, the characters are easily distinguishable and stay consistent throughout, and the panels are detailed and sensibly sequenced. However, the hard-edged, angular style doesn’t flit the typical look of The Flash to my eye. While this would be okay if the story was geared in that direction, but it isn’t. This leaves any scenes where Barry uses his powers feeling stiff.
I’d definitely recommend The Flash Rebirth #1 to fans of the character or those who want to follow the greater narrative established in DC Universe Rebirth #1. While the art doesn’t click at some points, the plot and writing are more than strong enough to carry it.