Or – “And I Raaan,  I Ran So Far Awaaaay…  Couldn’t Get Away!”

FL1.jpg

(With apologies to Rodrigo and A Flock Of Seagulls…)   DC Editorial is of the opinion that Barry Allen had to return, that he was the bestest Flash of all Flashes ever, and that it’s time for him to really shine in what might be called a new Silver Age for the DC Universe.  But first, he has to fix the mess left by the time-traveling villain with a fetish for killing the women in his life.  As for me, I figured, what the heck, I’d go ahead and review this book, seeing as how they went to the trouble of HAVING one, and all…

Flash Rebirth #6

FL2.jpgWritten by Geoff Johns
Art and covers by Ethan Van Sciver
Inks by Scott Hanna
Colors by Brian Miller

Previously on Flash Rebirth:  Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry,Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry!

All sarcastic remarks aside (albeit just for a second or so), we open with a nicely moving sequence, as Barry races through the time-stream trying to catch Professor Zoom, remembering how he and Wally built the Cosmic Treadmill because they couldn’t ever quite get the finer points of temporal locmotion down going hands-free.  Just as he stumbles, and begins to drop out of Reverse-Flash’s wake, a hand grabs his arm.  “I’ve got you,” says the former Kid Flash, pulling his mentor back to his feet and joining him in the race through (and against) time.  Barry explains that R-Flash killed his mother, and Wally remarks that it should be impossible to change the past.  Barry realizes where his old nemesis is headed, remembering their previous clashes.  “He’s always been after Iris.”  Years ago, on the night of their first date, Iris West gets in a cab, not knowing that yellow-clad death is hurtling towards her from the future.  As Iris steps out of her taxi, three things happen at the exact same moment in time:  A lightning bolt blasts through the window of the forensics lab, dousing the past’s version of Barry Allen in an electrified chemical bath; Reverse-Flash strikes out at Iris with his lightning sword, going for the kill stroke; and Wally and Barry burst out of time, dragging R-Flash away in a blast of energy.  (I don’t know if it’s considered canonical anymore, but back in the day, the lightning bolt that empowered Barry was revealed to actually be Barry himself, traveling back from the moment that the Anti-Monitor’s machine dealt him his seemingly-fatal blow.  This means that, if you think the way I do, there are technically THREE Barry Allen’s present at this moment…) 

Iris barely notices something at the periphery of her vision, a flash (you should excuse the expression) of light before Barry drags his nemesis away.  Barry shoves Reverse Flash through time, snarling that he never understood the truest rule of the speed force:  You have to have an anchor, a lightning rod.  Barry has Iris, Wally has Linda, Jay has Joan.  Eobard Thawne has nothing but his own chittering insanity.  “Throughout your sad, pathetic life, you never loved ANYONE, did you?” asks Barry.  “We have our lightning rods, but you never got yours.  UNTIL NOW.”  The Flashes yank their inverse counterpart out of the speed force  in the present, where the JLA, Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and the Cyclone Rangers have created a device designed to drain out R-Flash’s speed force powers.  Back in the day, Iris Allen is surprised to see a staff with razor sharp blades fall to the ground behind her, while Barry and his compatriots apparently return to the Flash parade.  The issue ends with a number of story hooks (Doctor Alchemy is gone; while Eobard “Professor Zoom” Thawne and Hunter “Zoom” Zolomon meet for the first time; the gorillas of Gorilla City realize somethin is wrong; a pair of gloves hands play with Reverse-Flash puppets; Barry Allen finds the Central City cold case files; the Rogues prepare for the reutnr of their nemesis) and a moment where Barry and Iris reconnect and laugh about why she kept the cane from the night they dated for years and he never knew it.  (Sometimes I hate time-travel.)  As the story ends, we see the JLA waiting for Barry to arrive for his return party, and the book ends with a WHOOSH and Barry smiling, “Sorry I’m late.”

As much as this issue was ingratiating, with lush Ethan Van Sciver art (albeit EVS art that seemed a bit more rushed than previous issues, especially during the JLA party) and a Geoff Johns script that was the equivalent of a friendly pat on the back from an old pal, something about it just grates at me.  I liked Barry Allen, in his time, but part of me doesn’t find his return to be a welcome one, nor even good news for the DCU.  Jay Garrick has a place as elder statesman with the Justice Society, and Bart has his place with the Teen Titans.  Max Mercury, Jesse Quick, and the new Impulse all have a place in the DC Universe that is uniquely theirs.  But the return of Barry makes Wally’s maturation process and growth into the role of the Flash a moot point, as the Bestest Super-Dad ever has come home, and now he’s nothing more than Stepdaddy with the El Camino and the medallions.  As nicely done as this issue was (and it did successfully manage to clear the spectre of Bat-angst away from the Flash, to some degree) it still stands as a monument to something that not only DIDN’T need to be done, but something that needed to not be UNDONE.  Removing Barry Allen’s death from the DC Universe effectively nullifies the last breaths of relevancy that Crisis On Infinite Earths would have had, undermines the uniqueness of Wally West, and doesn’t really add anything meaningful to the canon.  The fact that it does it so cheerfully and breathlessly makes the story enjoyable, and I will be perusing Geoff Johns new Flash title to see what happens with Saint Barry abroad in the world.  Taking all of my misgivings and baggage out of the equation (like THAT ever happens) this book is well-written, it has character moments for Kid Flash, Reverse Flash, Iris Allen, Wally, Barry, and even Jai West, and it has a chilling moment wherein Zoom tells Wally that “one of your children will destroy your life.”  It has camaraderie and classic Justice League, including Green Arrow getting impatient and eating a piece of the welcome cake; it has a Flash parade and a good time was had by all.  So, why can’t I shake this sense of impending doom?  Still, in the interests of not pacing about like Walter Kovacs with a sign that says “Barry Allen Foretells DOOM!” I can admit that this is a well-crafted piece of work, and it heralds the Brightest Day in fine fashion.  The Flash – Rebirth #6 (of 5, because that joke will never stop being funny) earns 4 out of 5 stars overall on the merits of how well it does what it does.  But in ten years, when the next reboot is upon us and Wally is in a wheelchair or dead or otherwise nullified, you just remember who told you this would happen…  And you rotten kids best keep your frisbees offa my lawn!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  What can DC do with the new JLU-styled Wally West in the new continuity?  Given the existence of The Flash, The Flash II, Kid Flash II, Impulse, Jesse Quick and the like, what would you like to see as Flash III’s new role?

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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8 Comments

  1. brainypirate
    February 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm — Reply

    “a new Silver Age” — what would that be? Platinum? Aluminum? Tin? Pewter?

  2. February 27, 2010 at 12:41 am — Reply

    “a new Silver Age” — what would that be? Platinum? Aluminum? Tin? Pewter?

    Chromium… But DC’s insistence on returning to the conventions of the Silver Age has been obvious since about Infinite Crisis, at least to my eye.

  3. Greg A
    February 27, 2010 at 9:17 am — Reply

    It’s eerie how similar Flash Rebirth and Captain America Reborn are
    –Both main characters return from the dead
    –Both main characters’s return from the dead is the result of their evil counterpart
    –Both five issue mini-series end up running six issues
    –Both mini series’s ending is semi spoiled by upcoming supermega events (Siege/Blackest Night)
    –Both series have haunting visions of the future (the warning to Wally and Steve’s vision of the future).

    As much as I enjoyed both series, I’m beginning to wonder if Johns and Brubaker played a game of Mad Libs.

    • astrodinosaurus
      February 27, 2010 at 9:33 am — Reply

      Heh even the creators are somewhat similar. They are moving on up to a deluxe…Anyway I’m a sucker for nostalgia as much as the next guy (or dame) But I’m hoping future DC and Marvel will tilt more towards pure crazy madness! Cause Morrison and Fraction are awesome… Indie cred, indie cred, INDIE CRED!

      Batman with a jetpack!

  4. Katzedecimal
    February 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm — Reply

    Not bad, it only took them a year to get it finished and the ending was spoiled by Blackest Night: Flash #3 the previous week. You must be doing something right, now DC is doing their own major spoilers.

  5. ~wyntermute~
    February 27, 2010 at 10:20 pm — Reply

    The reason Barry had to return was so he could be Blue Lantern Barry, duh… Okay, I can’t tell if I’m being sarcastic or not. >_< Somebody… Anybody… Help? I also gotta count myself among those slightly underwhelmed by this, as well as among those for whom "time travel hurts my head". Y'know how in Star Trek: Next Gen the scripts would just say "” (or so goes the legend)? That’s what a lot of the explanatory Speed Force/Time Travel stuff felt like to me: “”

  6. March 1, 2010 at 7:54 am — Reply

    I don’t really inderstand the need to bring Barry back.

    People seem to forget that Barry, as one of the DC Big Guns, was unable to substain his own series back in 1985. Yes, I understand that part of that was in preperation for the original Crisis series, but it was cancelled regardless.

    The death of Barry in such a messianic fashion was the lynch pin for the personal development of so many characters, not just Wally. Barry actually sacrificed everything to save everything. He was the standard for all the other heroes to strive for.

    But hey, what do I know.

  7. Levi C
    March 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm — Reply

    Personally I think the Reverse Flash/professor Zoom was just trying to play mind games with Wally…again. To say one of his kids is going to destroy his life is so too broad and general. Children “destroy” parents lives on a consistent basis whether the parent is a huge drama queen and having a bad day and is angry at the kid to something the kid does on par with scenarios on Desperate Housewives. For all we know one of them will walk in while Wally and Linda are having mommy/daddy time and that will just unravel the fastest man alive causing Barry to return from the dead (again) to help Wally on his third bad/worst day. I call hogwash. Though it was great to have Max and Bart back together. Tear. :*)

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