Review: The Flash Rebirth 2

flash-rebirth-2

Let me be up front with my biases.  I’m a Wally fan.  For me, Barry was the guy who showed up when Wally really needed a push in the right direction and then he went back into the Speed Force until the next time he was needed.  He was kind of like Ben Kenobi in Empire Strikes Back.  So, to have Barry back pushing Wally out of the spotlight is kind of like if Ben was the lead character of Return of the Jedi.

This book is entertaining.  You probably won’t be bored.  But I kind of wonder who it’s aimed at.  The story requires you to know quite a bit of Flash back story if you want to have any chance of following it.  But people who have read a lot of these stories may not take kindly to the trade-mark Geoff Johns retcons in this issue.

I don’t think this book is being written for Barry Allen fans.  (Which is probably a good thing, because I think they are a dying breed.)  I imagine some Barry fans are thrilled just to have Barry back.  But I also have to think there are some that are wondering why DC bothered to bring him back if they are going to change the character so completely.  This new spin on Barry isn’t grim and gritty, but he’s not the Silver Age Barry Allen I read about in JLA: Year One and Brave and the Bold.

Johns goes to lengths to get Barry dirty.  He goes so far as to have Barry run through a list of his sins and failures.  He also has Barry act like a bit of a jerk sometimes.  Oh, and there’s an entertaining retcon regarding Barry’s fashion sense.  But after all the tweaks, the guy I’m reading about just doesn’t feel like Barry.

The main plot deals with Barry’s investigation into Savitar’s death.  If you don’t know who Savitar was, I suppose it’s okay.  Johns used him as cannon fodder last issue.  You may scratch your head a few times wondering where he came from or how he got trapped in the Speed Force.  But ultimately, it doesn’t really matter much.  Savitar’s death is just a plot device.

We also get some flashbacks (no pun intended) to Barry’s early days as a forensic scientist and how he met his future wife, Iris West.  A subplot is introduced regarding the death of Barry’s mother.  Apparently, Barry was trying to clear his father of the crime.  I’m not a big enough Barry fan to know if this is an established part of Barry’s history or another retcon.  But it felt like something Johns was adding on to deliver a more angsty Barry.

The issue ends with a shocking revelation regarding Barry’s new status quo.  Presumably, this explains why Barry has remained in our world rather than returning to the Speed Force.  I guess I’d be a little more shocked if I believed this change would remain in place after the conclusion of this mini-series.

If you like what Johns has been doing with Hal Jordan in Green Lantern, odds are you’ll like this Rebirth too.  I admit, I enjoyed the book too.  I just wish it was a little less heavy-handed in the reinvention of the title character.

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14 Responses to Review: The Flash Rebirth 2

  1. Rikdad says:

    I think the story is apt to make one feel like (or wonder if) you need to know the backstory from 1985 and before. But, as you say regarding Savitar, it really isn’t necessary. You ask about his parental backstory, and the answer is, this new plot is not only new, but completely incompatible with the previous account of Barry’s parents.

    A fan who’d never read a Barry Allen story before should be able to pick this up and figure out what’s going on. The story gives you the feeling you’re coming into the story late, but it’s actually self-explanatory.

    http://rikdad.blogspot.com/2009/05/flash-rebirth-2.html

  2. seventhsoldier says:

    I was curious about that, too – why bring Barry back if you’re going to change him and his backstory so much that he is no longer Barry?

  3. geist0 says:

    Skipped the part about the review bc I haven’t yet read issue 2.

    My opinion on why Barry was brought back is simply that Didio and Johns thought it would be cool. DC has put the Flash brand through the ringer since Johns left the series, and I have to say that I think this will be the last straw if Johns doesn’t pull a rabbit out of his hat. Whats sad is that this labor of love on his part is the one black mark on his work in the last 4 years.

    If you’re interested in reading more of my thoughts on all the generations of heroes running around in the DCU, I wrote an article at

    http://www.bsicomics.com/2009/05/05/dc-comics-infinite-character-crisis/

  4. dclebeau says:

    Nice article. I think you are way too kind to Johns. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. He’s one of my favorite writers too, but they guy’s made mistakes besides Flash: Rebirth over the last 4 years.

    I think it’s a real shame what DC has done to Kyle. But the bigger sin, to me, is that they are saying Wally will be treated equally “well”. I’d hate to see Wally go the way of Kyle and Connor. (What Winick did to Connor is horrible!).

    I don’t think bringing the DCU back to pre-Crisis days is the answer for everything. But that seems to be the way things are going.

  5. geist0 says:

    Oh, well maybe I didn’t get my point across. I just don’t think that they should all be running around at the same time. I’m not advocating the elimination of all second and third gen characters. And I would like a more POST-Crisis mentality that allows for less characters. Don’t delete them, just fade the superfluous ones into the background.

    I agree about Kyle. If you think about it, Kyle Rayner is one of the few new comics characters to have proven any wearwithall. Most just don’t stand the test of time with fans. But then, if you compare Kyle’s treatment to John Stewart’s, Kyle came off well. What I didn’t like was the replacement of Kyle with Sodam Yat. I know it connects to Alan Moore’s work, but still… why crush a good thing?

    As for Wally, I think Flash Rebirth will ultimately fail as a reboot. I think Wally will end up in the Crimson and Gold again, bc Barry just isn’t as interesting or even as fast as Wally.

    I don’t think Johns is God, and true not EVERY project he’s worked on has been gold, but even his worst work is just bland rather than bad. And his work on (the first year of) Justice Society of America (excepting Lightning saga), Legion of Three Worlds, Sinestro Corps War and subsequent GL stories… it’s been some of my favorite books in years.

    P.S. What Winnick does to every character is horrible.

  6. dclebeau says:

    Yeah, I get what you’re saying about not having all a bunch of versions of essentially the same character running around at the same time. It’s a problem. But I think when you look at the alternatives, none of them are very desirable.

    The way DC works, characters aren’t allowed to walk off stage to return when the time is right. Instead, they get brutally slaughtered to give the latest “event” some kind of gravitas.

    I remember when Kevin Smith brought Ollie back, I thought the best move he made was keeping Connor and Roy around. There was something for everyone. Then Winick made Mia into the new Speedy. Suddenly, we’ve got 4 versions of Green Arrow and each one has fans. What do you do?

    I sure don’t want to see any of those characters killed off. I wouldn’t mind seeing a character like Connor step off stage. It sure would have been better than the treatment he got at the end of Winick’s run. But I don’t trust DC to manage their comic book limbo anymore. If you’re not front and center, you are cannon fodder.

    I’m a Kyle fan and I don’t mind what happened to Kyle so much. I like that I can still read about him. I’d have preferred it if he had remained Ion, but I can handle him as a member of the ensemble in GL Corps. But I’d hate to see Wally relegated to a member of the Titans.

    I think part of the problem with Wally stems from Johns’ run. As soon as I saw those twins, I thought Wally’s days as the Flash were numbered. It’s hard to do stories of the Superhero/Dad. And you deinitely shouldn’t be doing that with a legacy character like Wally. Suddenly, Wally felt older than Barry.

    And aging the kids made that problem so much worse. (Don’t get me started on aging Bart).

    I like Johns a lot too. He’s one of my favorite writers working today, if not my favorite. I loved what he did on Action and most of JSA (both series). I like his GL even if he often rubs me the wrong way. I liked most of his run on Wally’s book (although it crapped out towards the end). And his Hawkman book was decent too. I didn’t care for Infinite Crisis, but I doubt most of that was his fault.

    You’re right. Even his worst books are still usually worth looking at.

    I hate piling on Winick. I defended the guy for a long, long time. But he just seems to be phoning it in lately. His last good book was Powers of Shazam. GL/BC just spiraled out of control. And Titans was a train wreck from day 1.

  7. Matt says:

    So, to have Barry back pushing Wally out of the spotlight is kind of like if Ben was the lead character of Return of the Jedi.

    I found Luke to be an annoying whiney brat of a character, so I would have actually quite approved of Ben returning and smacking Vader about a bit.

  8. dclebeau says:

    Yeah, my Luke/Wally analogy may have been a bad one. I should so re-write Return of the Jedi! :)

  9. [...] We’re merely two issues into Barry’s return.  So, who knows what the future holds.  So far, I’m a little underwhelmed (read my review of issue 2 here). [...]

  10. brucecastle says:

    Thanks. Now that you wrote this review, I don’t have to write one. More sleep for me!

    “So, to have Barry back pushing Wally out of the spotlight is kind of like if Ben was the lead character of Return of the Jedi.”

    Who wouldn’t want Alec Guinness as the star of “Return of the Jedi?” Could you imagine how sad he’d look acting with Muppets?

    “Which is probably a good thing, because I think they are a dying breed.”

    You’re a dying breed.

    “He goes so far as to have Barry run through a list of his sins and failures.”

    I know you think Johns is writing Hal to be Miss America, but honestly, Johns treated Hal the same way he’s treating Barry. You go count the number of Parallax references. Go on, count them. I’ll wait…

    “I guess I’d be a little more shocked if I believed this change would remain in place after the conclusion of this mini-series.”

    Could you imagine if the change stuck? Talk about an unexpected twist! If you were to ask fans where Barry would be in a year after Final Crisis, that’d be the last thing they’d say.

    DC, why on earth didn’t you mention Sciver’s art? It’s some of his best work, and, judging by your Johns rant, the best thing about this series, no?

    As for the retcons, honestly, even as a big fan of Barry’s, the most troubling retcon was calling Black Racer from Final Crisis “Black Flash.” Will DC stop pissing on Final Crisis already? It just happened.

    This post is already too long, but, in short, I’m surprising fond of this series.

  11. [...] Read/RANT – “This book is entertaining. You probably won’t be bored. But I kind of wonder who it’s aimed at.” [...]

  12. [...] first two issues of this series have me feeling underwhelmed. Read my review of issue 2 here.  I’m not sure why they bothered bringing Barry back if they were just going to retcon him [...]

  13. [...] the Wally-lover handled the last issue, I thought it’d be a nice change of pace if an actual Barry-lover (Yes, I’m a hundred [...]

  14. [...] this book isn’t bad.  But, I am really confused.  Last month, I asked who this book is for.  After this issue, I think I have the answer.  Johns is writing [...]

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