In “The Flash” #1, Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico set aside the events of “Rebirth” to focus on Barry Allen’s life as both a police detective and a superhero. In fact, Williamson puts Barry in the classic hero’s challenge, where he faces simultaneous threats and has to make a difficult choice, but then examines what can happen when the one man who might be able to deal with both tries to do exactly that.
Despite moving away from “DC Universe: Rebirth’s” continuity-altering revelation, Williamson provides an immediate and succinct recap to let readers know that — while it’s not going to be the focus of the issue — it’s not forgotten, either. Newer readers who are unfamiliar with the backstory (like fans of the TV series who might happen upon this comic) might find themselves a little confused by the mention of two totally different versions of a character sharing the same name. For better or worse, that appears to be the way of things in the post-“Rebirth” DC Universe, with multiple incarnations of Superman, the Joker and other characters now populating the same world; in this debut issue, however, it has no significant impact on the story or its accessibility.
Di Giandomenico and colorist Ivan Plascencia combine to make the art crackle, like the energy that surrounds Barry when he’s in full Flash mode. The colors are largely subdued when Barry isn’t in costume, but his red outfit pops brightly, as do the warmer shades of lightning in his wake. Di Giandomenico’s lines are stark and clear, making the art stand out even when the Flash isn’t in action, and the color palette Plascencia reserves for these scenes nicely contrast the different objects and characters. Di Giandomenico also switches from traditional panel structure to more unusual layouts with inset panels, changing up the look of the story throughout to keep it visually fluid.
Karl Kerschl’s standard cover features Barry in a typical but dynamic Flash pose, with nods to other members of the Flash’s supporting cast, even though they don’t appear in the issue. It’s an attractive, attention-grabbing piece, albeit one put together independent of the events occurring within the issue. Instead, Williamson uses “The Flash” #1 to examine how even the self-professed Fastest Man Alive sometimes isn’t fast enough.