Or – “Resurrection:  Not Always A Good Thing.”

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There’s a tendency in comics for characters to return completely unscathed and unaffected by a seeming death, leaping back into action without even referencing their demise.  But, as Stephen King or Rod Serling can tell you, the thought of someone returning from the grave can be a much more complicated and terrifying prospect.  Heroes can come back, after all…

…but sometimes they come back different.

Previously, on The Flash – Rebirth:  Final Crisis wasn’t the most coherent giant crossover FL1.jpgschmozz, but the fallout from the issues was pretty dramatic:  A dead Batman.  A dead Martian Manhunter.  Darkseid finally falling, if only temporarily.  But the change that made the most waves was the return of founding Justice Leaguer Barry Allen from beyond the realm of  Hades.  During FC itself, he didn’t do much other than run and run and run like a constipated weiner dog, but as soon as the mini was over, Barry had to slow down, if only for a second.  His fellow JLA founder (and revenant) Hal Jordan has made attempts to reconnect with his buddy, only to find the mind under the crewcut racing as fast as the man himself.  Barry is preoccupied, with a world that went on without him, with the one case he could never solve, with his wife Iris.  And when another speedster, Savitar returned from the dead, Barry confronted him, only to have the villain turn to dust in his hands.  Add to that a body in a cornfield wearing an ebony-colored Flash suit, seizures affecting everyone with access to the speed force, and some retcons about Barry’s parents, and we have quite a mystery on our hands…

We open in the wilds of Africa, the storytellers of Gorilla City gather in the darkness, creating a cave painting of their old ally, the Flash, with links drawn to ALL the Flashes.  The gorillas all grunt in agreement as the painting is completed, roaring their approval of the scene.  Notably, though, another figure is seen in their picture:  Savitar, the self-anointed god of speed.  Far away, in the Balkan mountains, in one of his Savitar’s hidden bases, Lady Savitar becomes aware of the return of her lover.  She is then horrified to watch through some sort of Speed Force portal, as he is disintegrated by the touch of Barry Allen, leaving Lady Savitor screaming with rage.  Outside of Central City, Barry Allen is likewise surprised by the death of Savitar, and immediately snaps into crime scene investigation mode.  Green Lantern arrives, and again makes an attempt to connect with him, and again Barry races away, telling Hal to keep the crime scene clear.  It’s obvious that Barry is bothered by leaving Hal behind, but he finds himself even more bothered by the fact that he can’t shake the thought that something about his return is WRONG, that maybe he should not have come back… 

Barry is sidetracked by a long flashback (and a nicely handled one, at that) showing us his days in the CCPD, his first meeting with Iris, his deftness in handling evidence, and even the origin of (and I’m not kidding) his bow tie.  Rushing home to Iris, Barry is surprised to find his old boss Captain Frye in the house talking with Iris, and finds that his absence has been explained away as a stint in witness protection, thanks to Wonder Woman’s DMA connections.  After Frye leaves, Barry finally opens up to Iris, telling her that everyone remembers him as “Saint Barry,” but he’s just a man.  A man who failed to save his father, a man who murdered the man who seemingly murdered Iris, a man who ran away from his life and responsibilities when he got the chance.  “Flash fact: Iris.  I don’t need to be here.”  And there it is…  After last issue’s endless praise, somebody is ready to bury Barry.  (Bury Barry Bury Barry Bury Barry Bury Barry!)  The phone rings, bearing the news that all the other speedsters have suffered some sort of seizure, and that a body has been found in Barry’s old hometown.  Wally and Barry set out, and find a blistered and burnt corpse in a corn field.  Wally confirms aloud that the corpse is, indeed, as some of us had thought last issue, the Black Flash.  Before they can investigate, further, though, Lady Savitar arrives and brutally attacks them, only to have Barry catch one of her strikes.  Just like her former lover, Lady S dissolves into a pile of dust and bones, and Wally staggers back in fear.  The former sidekick cries, “Barry…  You’re the new Black Flash!”

After either five or six issues featuring Barry Allen after his return, in this one we FINALLY get into how he feels about what has happened, and what he’s doing to try and cope.  Barry’s discomfort with Hal rings very true for me, in that Hal wants to bond over both of them coming back, but Barry doesn’t know what to make of his resurrection.  And even with the big signals, I didn’t see the last bit coming (even though I feel like I probably should have.)  I liked this issue a lot more than the first, mostly because of the insight into Barry’s state of mind.  Ethan Van Sciver seems to be trying out a different art style here, something much more Kirby-esque than what he did on Green Lantern: Rebirth, but still workable.  I like the use of the hero who used to be the only one who STAYED dead acting as the emobidment of death, and I’m starting to think that the return of Barry Allen is a temporary thing.  Perhaps DC editorial have stolen a page from the Joe Quesada/Vince McMahon swerve playbook?  Either way, this second chapter has fleshed out the character like I hoped it would.  It’s a solid issue overall, and earns 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I may not be onboard with the concept, but the execution is solid, and it’s an intriguing read…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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9 Comments

  1. shamon
    May 7, 2009 at 11:44 pm — Reply

    holy cow, I did not see this coming!!

    however I guess that whoever is manipulating the speed force (from issue 1) will become the new Black Flash (probably Zoom). Normally when someone beats Death they become Death themselves. It then makes sense that if you beat the Black Racer or the Black Flash who Barry has been racing since way back during and even before COIE then in this case you become the Black Flash. He wasn’t called the Fastest Man Alive for nothing. He even defeated Superman back then if I remember right. I immediately thought of Professor Zoom the Reverse Flash, but not Zoom. I’ll have to re-read issue one I think. In any case I expect it is going to be dangerous for Wally or Jay to be around Barry now. Apparently though this kind of Death is completely the opposite of the kind of Death we have with the ALE ans the Black Lantern Corps though. I wonder on a heaven vs Hell sort of thing.

  2. Ricco
    May 8, 2009 at 10:26 am — Reply

    Wohoo! I was right, it was the Black Flash. Now, how do you kill death? Bolwing ball to the back of the head? And how can death be alive? Will he have to take up residence in the Speed Force and only come out to claim speedsters, and possibly to make practiccal jokes at Wally’s expense? You know sorta like “I have come to claim you Wally West! boo, Gotcha!”

    My second guess from issue 1 was that the mystery enemy was the original Zoom.

  3. Discount Lad
    May 8, 2009 at 3:00 pm — Reply

    Here’s hoping Barry’s return is wrong, and after he manages to solve this case of the broken speed force he goes back to wherever it is super heroes go when they are dead.

  4. Darkmalakimte
    May 8, 2009 at 8:03 pm — Reply

    Hmm….Barry comes back from the dead and becomes the Black Flash, embodiment of Death itself and the Blackest Night is just on the horizon….Coincidence? Yeah, if you believe that I have some prime real estate to sell you up at the north pole, IF you can lift the key…

  5. duckface
    May 8, 2009 at 8:30 pm — Reply

    I totally dig the Black Flash scenario. That way Barry fans get Barry back in some form, but the story moves forward rather than backwards (as would be the case if Wally was basically pushed aside). I think Barry as Black Flash has so much story potential, allowing him to become both an authority figure and a foil to Wally & co.

  6. ~wyntermute~
    May 8, 2009 at 9:36 pm — Reply

    For once, I actually DID see this one a few pages in advance, and that does NOT mean I disliked it. I was honestly surprised that my opinion of “it would be awesome if…” and the story’s were ACTUALLY THE SAME! Do I get a gold star for seeing something on the horizon that Mr. Matthew did not? :D

  7. shamon
    May 9, 2009 at 12:48 am — Reply

    I also think Barry will use time travel to right the wrong done to his parents .

  8. ~wyntermute~
    May 9, 2009 at 1:38 pm — Reply

    My main question after this ish: What’s up with the gorillas? And, like, that’s not a gag-question or sarcasm or anything. I’m not a “long-time” Flash reader, but I _do_ know that Gorilla City is very very veryveryvery important to the Flash Family. So, like, do THEY understand the Speed Force in ways that we, mere humans, cannot? Their science and technologies are so highly advanced that it would not surprise me if they were somehow “fixing” things that Barry’s return caused. Or maybe (like Barry said) since the Black Flash was used as a weapon against Darkseid it might have been ‘too much’ for it, and a replacement was needed? The Gorilla Graffiti Crew might have decided that Barry, being a former scientist and cop, had the best temperament to become the new embodiment of Speed Killing.

  9. May 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm — Reply

    Didn’t hate this with a passion like I did the first issue but I felt it was still marred by the ugly art with all the painful to look at poses. Does this artist always draw like this? At least the writing made me feel like it was Barry in the costume this time. Last issue was too angsty and whiny to feel like Barry.

    One question though: If Barry was in the Speed Force when his parents’ fates were retcomnned by Infinite Crisis, shouldn’t he be unaware of it and think he still has one of the last sets of living, good parents out there?

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