Its been a little while since Flash: Rebirth #3 hit the stands. Ending with the reveal of Professor Zoom being behind all Barry’s recent troubles, it was obvious that the series had hit a turning point.
There’s very obvious parallels with Green Lantern: Rebirth here. In that series, Sinestro was revealed as the villain at the end of issue 3, who then spent issue 4 explaining the plot. Much the same happens here, and like issue 4 of GL: Rebirth ended with Hal’s restoration, this issue similarly ends with Barry back and with a renewed sense of who he is.
Also like issue 4 of Rebirth, there’s retcons aplenty here. The “giant yellow space bug” came under a lot of flack when Parallax’s true nature was revealed in Green Lantern, and while that change has since been accepted and become a major part of how the GL universe is shaped (with the emotional spectrum and its avatars) I must admit, I’m finding the revelations in this issue a little harder to swallow. Barry as the source of the Speed Force just seems to open up questions and problems that previously didn’t exist. If Barry powers the Speed Force, what powers Barry? And what was powering it while he was dead? If Barry’s accident created the Speed Force, and Zoom’s recreation of that accident created his, why doesn’t Wally have his own? Unless that’s something that’ll be revealed in Flash #25…
The existance of the Negative Speed Force (surely that should be the Reverse Speed Force to keep the theme?) is something I’m torn on. I could see it as a counterpoint to the Speed Force we’re familiar with. A hell for Speedsters versus the heaven we’ve previously seen. That could at least tie into Savitar being incredibly glad to be out of the Speed Force in issue 1. However I can’t help but think that Zoom having his own evil speed force makes him a bit too much like Sinestro. I’m also not keen on the changes to Barry’s return in Final Crisis or Barry’s turning into the Black Flash being a sign of the negative speed force’s infection. Heck, if this was always the plan for Barry’s return, couldn’t the reasons for him coming back just have been left a mystery in Final Crisis? It seems a bit strange that they’re already retconning a series less than a year later.
However, while I’m unsure about the retcons in this issue, I can still say I really enjoyed it. There’s a load of great “Flash Family” moments here, and Professor Zoom is reestablished as a real threat, and a chilling villain. The scene where he turns up at Wally’s house and threatens Linda and the kids was genuinely scary. Which only made the appearance of Jay and Bart a real punch-the-air moment.
This is one area where Ethan’s art really excells in this issue. Here he gets the chance to do some brilliant splash pages. Be it Bart and Jay turning up to take on Zoom or Wally running into the Speed Force, determined to bring everyone back out of it, Ethan renders these moments beautifully.
And the return of Max. What can I say? A moment that had been well telegraphed from the first issue of this series, and a loose plot thread that had fans crying out for resolution. Max has always been a really popular character. I loved his use in Waid’s Flash run as the Zen Master of Speed, and this popularity was only reinforced when he became Bart’s mentor in the Impulse series. The splash page when he returns to Earth, having been persuaded by Barry that he’s the closest thing Bart has to a father (especially powerful when you consider Barry is Bart’s actual grandfather) brought a huge grin to my face.
This issue was definitely a big improvement over the first three. Although improvement is probably being a bit unfair in that I think the whole thing (like Final Crisis) will read better all together in trade form. But as a standalone issue in a monthly series there was definitely a more satisfying read than the previous issues. The series is probably still not up there with Green Lantern Rebirth for me, but its definitely starting to tick the right boxes, especially with the way the whole Flash family was showcased here.