I’ll say it now, I think this is the best issue of Rebirth so far. The pace finally felt right to me, and it built on the Zoom stuff from issue 4 well, and resolved some of the lingering subplots.
Most of the issue is taken up with the fight against Zoom and the subsequent revelations. Professor Zoom takes great pleasure in telling Barry how he’s been time travelling back and changing the past, affecting Barry’s personal history, and explaining things like Barry’s mother’s death (prior to Rebirth, Barry’s parents had both been alive). It also explains why Barry’s mood has been so affected since the start of the series, as its explained as nothing to do with Barry struggling to adapt to being back, but infact his mood was a side affect of Zoom’s continual changing of Barry’s history (which was presumably happening off panel during the first few issues).
We also get the Flash family re-established for the franchise going forward. Max, of course, returned last issue but this issue also brought the much-heralded revamp to Wally’s outfit (to solve the issue of Wally and Barry’s outfits being so similar visually).
I must admit, I was slightly dreading the revamp, half-expecting it to be some modification of his old Kid Flash outfit that a lot of fans have such affection for. Thankfully though, this wasn’t the case, with the costume only receiving slight tweaks, and still recognisably being a “Flash” costume. The changes work well, and it reminds me of the Return of Barry Allen storyline, which never ran into the issue of the characters looking similar, due to the dark red used in Wally’s “shiney” outfit he was wearing at the time. Its also interesting to note the lifts from Wally’s outfit as seen in the JLU cartoon, with his belt and chest logo (possibly the only part of the update I’m not sure on. I prefer the normal lightning bolt) being from that variation of the costume. I’m definitely pleased with this updated look for Wally.
The other development I was very pleased with, was Iris West’s transformation into the new Impulse. Its a move that had been signposted throughout the series, with her hero-worship of Bart and Zoom’s comments about the twins’ connection to the speedforce last issue, and I for one am really pleased to see not only Iris turned into a proper speedster, but also that she’s adopted Bart’s old identity. It adds another nice link to the chain of the Flash legacy.
It also nicely places the characters for the upcoming monthlies. Presumably Iris will be in Wally’s co-feature, but also sets her up for appearances in Bart’s Kid Flash book. I think it’ll be quite interesting to see how Bart deals with her following in his footsteps and it could be quite amusing 🙂 And you have to assume it’ll not be long before Jai starts to resent the fact that he’s been left powerless by Iris taking on their previously-shared Speedforce connection.
Speaking of Bart, it was interesting watching his interactions with Max. Bart’s grown a lot since Max was trapped in the Speedforce, and it was interesting to see how sometimes he was ahead of what Max was telling him, with Max attempting to guide him as he did when he was Impulse. It was a nice way of showing that not only has Max been out of the loop for a while, but also how much Bart’s developed as a hero. It does promise that their relationship in the upcoming Kid Flash monthly will have evolved beyond their relationship in Bart’s original Impulse book, and it’ll be interesting to see what direction the writer takes there.
Overall, this was a great issue. I’m glad to see that the second half of this series has improved a lot over the first. I’m still not entirely sure this series has been a success for me overall, but these later issues are at least ticking the right boxes. I look forward to the last issue, and I really hope it doesn’t suffer the crippling delays this issue did. Interestingly, the solicit mentions some new threat to the Speedsters, which I’d really expected to get some hint of here. Throwing in a new villain in the last issue seems a little Final Crisis to me, which suddenly had Mandrak turn up and felt a bit forced (even if you had read Superman: Beyond), so I’m intrigued to see what this actually means.