My first immediate thought was that it was nice to see they reverted back to the original cover. The replacement that was floating around in the solicits for a while just wasn’t as good as the original Moose-inked version. Its a shame Moose isn’t inking the series itself, but the inker they’ve got replacing him does a fine job.
Probably the most surprising thing about this first issue, especially given its the Flash, is the pace. Whereas Green Lantern Rebirth started out with Kyle’s ship crashing and various big events, the focus in this issue is very much on getting inside Barry’s head. Of course, unlike GL: Rebirth, Johns has the advantage that the actual resurrection is already taken care of. Barry’s been back since Final Crisis, so instead that allows Johns to focus on how Barry is coping with his resurrection.
Not well is the answer. There’s a great scene with Barry and Hal meeting in the Flash museum where we see Barry surrounded by people talking on their mobiles and about download speeds etc. Hal comments that Barry’s finding the world much faster than he’s used to. Barry comments that its just caught up, but you can’t help but feel Hal’s on the mark. Barry doesn’t feel at all at home in the modern world, and makes the comment that he wasn’t supposed to come back.
We also see other’s reactions to Barry’s return, with most overjoyed. However Bart’s not as impressed. There’s been a lot of comment about this scene online and how out-of-character Bart was. For me though, I was ok with it, since the point of the scene seemed to be that he’s more upset that Max is still trapped in the speedforce (foreshadowing a return?). And I can just say how nice it was to see Bart with his proper yellow eyes again? Not to mention the Impulse statue in the Flash museum clearly having the more cartoony look Bart had in that series (no surprise given who the artist of said series was though 😉 ).
As well as seriously getting into Barry’s head, we also see the setup for a lot of mystery in this series. At the beginning we see some Police forensic scientists killed by someone who then recreates the accident that gave Barry his speed, and also claims to be behind Barry’s resurrection. However, separate to this, a couple of kids find the Black Flash flying dead in a field. We then see Savitar free himself from the Speedforce through Barry, only to crumble to dust once Barry catches and touches him. Is Barry becoming a new Black Flash through the process of his resurrection?
Special mention must go to Ethan’s art in this series as well. Its possibly some of his best work to-date. There’s not been too much action so far, but the Flash museum scenes were spot-on, with you really feeling the hustle and bustle of the crowd.
There’s a few niggles though. Barry’s wife Iris took me a lot by surprise. For years she’s been portrayed as in her 40s at least. This always made sense to me given the character’s respective age to the supporting cast, but here she suddenly looks like she’s in her 20s. I guess she’s a victim of comic book aging that has some characters age (Red Arrow/Arsenal, Tim Drake, Dick Grayson), while others have to stay more-or-less constant, but it really lept out in a way that others (Carol Ferris for example must be a victim of the same thing) haven’t.
While I was ok with the Bart scene, there’s some retcons being thrown around here. The Black Flash is dead, but Final Crisis established that the Black Flash was the Black Rider. Shouldn’t the Black Rider now on Earth-51 with the other New Gods, or are they back to being separate characters? Granted, this could be something that will be addressed in subsequent issues, but I’m combining it with the fact that the mysterious murderer now seems to be responsible for Barry’s resurrection. Now Final Crisis was quite clear on the fact that Barry was resurrected by the universe itself as a defense mechanism against Darkseid. However here, Barry rubbishes this himself, pointing out he didn’t do anything Wally couldn’t (perhaps true, but not the point here). So this leads me to feel that only a couple of months after it ended, Final Crisis is already being contradicted. Doesn’t exactly make you feel the series is that well respected.
There’s also this plot development with Barry’s father possibly killing his mother. It’s definitely something that screams “I’m new!!!!!!” about Barry’s backstory, however I’m not calling retcon on it yet. Rather I’ll wait and see how that storyline unfolds over the next four issues.
These are all minor things though. This is a very different feeling series to GL: Rebirth so far. Much more introspective, but also a compelling read. Geoff’s set up some interesting mysteries with this first issue, and I like that idea for a Barry Allen book. To focus on his detective traits. If we just wanted a book about a guy who runs really fast, then they could’ve just kept Wally as the title character. Very much looking forward to issue 2.
Of course, the issue doesn’t quite finish there. And, presumably in line with DC’s policy of adding value to $3.99 books, we get a several page preview of the new Power Girl series at the end of the book. Which I very much enjoyed.
However, while I really enjoyed it. It also felt a bit out of place. Given that Flash: Rebirth is an event book, I’d have thought the extra pages would’ve gone to making the main story a bit longer. Nonetheless I’m still really looking forward to Power Girl coming out, and this preview did look good.