Recognizing that DC Comics’ “Rebirth” event is a new beginning, writer Joshua Williamson makes “The Flash: Rebirth” #1 as accessible as possible to new readers, to the point where they need not have read “DC Universe: Rebirth” #1 from two weeks ago. Williamson makes it especially welcoming to fans of “The Flash” TV series, all while giving existing readers who know all about the history of the character an enjoyable recap that they won’t mind sitting through. Alongside Williamson, artist Carmine Di Giandomenico also gives the characters a pleasant and stylish look.
Di Giandomenico lays out a very familiar-looking scene on page one, and Williamson’s script momentarily deceives readers into thinking they’re about to experience yet another iteration of Barry Allen’s origin. Williamson is quick to defuse this, though, reassuring readers that this is indeed a new story, and subsequently provides a sound reason for establishing a parallel between the current scene and a pivotal one from Barry’s youth. Di Giandomenico and Williamson then key off references recognizable from both the TV series and the recent “Rebirth” one-shot, casting a broad net to draw in the most likely audiences for this issue.
Both creators also reach out to new readers and ask the faithful for only a brief moment of patience as Di Giandomenico provides a poster-like splash featuring an iconic image of Barry in full Flash mode. Laden with vignettes from his past and overlaid with concise captions by Williamson, this single page reveals just enough about the Flash’s history to allow new readers to keep pace with existing ones. Williamson then establishes the bond between Barry and his father, perhaps taking a nod from the excellent characterization shown in the TV series and bringing that same dynamic into comic continuity. It’s a welcome move by Williamson, who isn’t afraid to borrow from the show and use it to great effect here, focusing as much on the man under the mask as much as he does the Scarlet Speedster.
With the character and characterization strongly and sufficiently established within the first half of the issue, Williamson concentrates on continuing and expanding the events seen within “DC Universe: Rebirth” for the remainder. The reunion between Barry and a returned-to-continuity Wally West is developed a little further, and done so in a touching and poignant way. Readers who passed on or missed the aforementioned one-shot might be a little confused about the reference to a familiar-looking trinket that served as that issue’s surprise revelation, but that aspect of the story is one that already contains a number of unanswered questions anyway.
“The Flash: Rebirth” #1 has the unenviable task of placating multiple audiences, but it manages to satisfy them all. New readers are welcomed and not overwhelmed, current ones are courteously walked through another rebirth and formerly-disgruntled ones are given every reason to come back and stay.