When “Green Lantern: Rebirth” released, oh, a bunch of years ago, it revitalized Hal Jordan’s mythos after years of dormancy. Hoping that lightning might strike twice (good one, right?), DC Comics has brought the same team together again for Barry Allen — The Flash. On paper, there wouldn’t appear to be too much wrong with this idea, but in the execution, the exercise proves that in a lot of ways, the Flash mythology might not be as compelling as that of the Green Lantern’s.
In “Final Crisis,” Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, returned from the dead and, apparently, in the yet unfinished “Final Crisis: Legion Of 3 Worlds,” so did Bart Allen, Kid Flash. As such, “The Flash: Rebirth” #1 opens with Keystone City celebrating its embarrassment of Flashes. Thus, it inevitably falls short of the drama of “Green Lantern: Rebirth’s” opening, which featured a near death Kyle Rayner as the only person in the galaxy strong enough to resist the gravest evil in the universe crash landing on Earth (a fitting tribute to the Lantern about to be usurped). “Flash: Rebirth” starts (well, after a grisly murder) with a Flash Festival.
One thing which has been improved significantly is the work of Ethan Van Sciver. Always an obviously talented artist, in “The Flash: Rebirth” he has skillfully merged his attention to detail with a less geometrically outlandish style. His art here is more grounded, which allows Alex Sinclair’s pop coloring to elevate the look of the book into something that is both a lovely Silver Age pastiche and a work of exacting and modern detail.
More than anything else, this issue is a stage-setter. While it lacks a strong cliffhanger (something “Green Lantern: Rebirth” excelled at), it has definitely set up a more interesting character dynamic than Green Lantern ever did. Each Flash is directly vested in the others’ lives, so jealousy and admiration aren’t just convenient personality traits, they’re clearly paving the way for some intense stuff down the road. This is being set up to be a much more internal book than its predecessor, which is expected. The Green Lanterns are partners. The Flashes are a family.
Without any large scale threat, the implied peril of murders and the Speed Force eating low-tier speedsters isn’t quite at Defcon levels just yet, but there are great moments throughout the book. Barry’s adjustments to the speed of modern world are not without their charm, and his insistence in the temporary nature of his return is the closest thing to real drama in the book so far. One expects that as the series goes on, the story will ratchet up any sense of palpable danger, but right now, there’s little to fear. Keystone City is just fine at the close of the issue. The Flashes are in some kind of danger, to be sure, but we’ll have to tune in next time to find out exactly what.
“Green Lantern: Rebirth” was never a mystery, but then, Hal Jordan was never a cop. (Well, until he was recruited by the precinct chief who crash landed in the desert.) “The Flash: Rebirth” is taking on a different shape, and while that might not pack an immediate punch, it may very well pay bigger dividends down the road.
I guess you could say “The Flash: Rebirth” got off to a bit of a…slow start!