The Flash Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico
Everything changed when the original Wally West returned, emerging from the timestream when his Uncle Barry Allen aka The Flash remembered him. Now the speedster hero of Central City recalled that there was a reality before this one and that some unseen force is manipulating the memories and realities of the people around him. He doesn’t have much time to dwell on this when a sudden speed force storm grants his powers to dozens of everyday people. This includes police detective August Heart and STAR Labs scientist Meena Dhawan. Is this the work of the criminal organization The Black Hole or the newly emerged speedster villain Godspeed?
\Of all the DC Rebirth titles, The Flash was the first one out of the gate to acknowledge the reality changing events of DC Rebirth #1. However, it didn’t dwell on them for too long before telling pretty standard stories you would expect for this book. These stories are a lot of fun, which is how a Flash story should be, but get bogged down in predictability. It is undeniable that Williamson is a fan of the work previously done on this character by Mark Waid and Geoff Johns, but it is to the point that his plot beats are way too familiar and never really surprise you with any identity reveals or twists. You see it coming because you feel like you have read this before.
I was most disappointed with Wally West being tossed to the aside after the first issue. He was being used over in the Titans series that started at the same time, but not incorporating him as a regular into this series really diminished the emotional weight of he and Barry’s reuniting. This reason behind this is that when DC rebooted with The New 52, they introduced a new Wally West, still nephew to Iris West but this time a young man of color. So we now have two Wally Wests running around the DC Universe without any writer really explaining how Barry could still remember the old one from a reality that was erased.
If the series had decided to explore that interesting and strange story, it might have been a little more surprising. Instead, we get a storyline in the opening half that reads as way too rushed and too straightforward. Meena is set up as a love interest quickly only to have her role in the series cut short. The identity reveal of Godspeed never surprised me in the slightest because it was set up so apparently from the first couple issues. Barry as a trainer to civilian speedsters, a fabulous idea, it ended abruptly as the arc resolves itself.
The second half of this volume is the “Speed of Darkness” storyline. Here we have longtime Flash foe The Shade returning from limbo, having been overtaken by the shadow force that he derives his power from. The spotlight is thrown on young Wally West who is now Kid Flash. He’s been grounded from using his powers but decides to go ahead and do so when the city is threatened by the Shade. One of my problems with this incarnation of Kid Flash is that in the pages of this title he is portrayed as a painfully naive character despite being somewhere around 14-15 years old. A kid that age is going to have a little more sense than Wally who acts like a 10-year-old.
The part of this story that disappointed me the greatest was what a horrible tease it all turns out to be. The Shade was an enemy of the original Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. One of the selling points of the Rebirth initiative is that the Golden Age heroes, placed on the shelf with New 52, would be showing back up! Seeing the Shade got my hopes up and then the final image in the story is Barry seeing the metal Mercury hat Jay Garrick wore. Exciting, yes? Then nothing, we eventually get a cameo from Jay, but we are about to hit three years in with no significant appearances or returns from these Justice Society characters.
The Flash Rebirth Volume 1 is a fun collection. The artwork from Carmine di Giandomenico is perfect for the momentum and energy a title like The Flash needs. The main issue here is Joshua Williamson not having any stories that feel fresh or new, instead of aping the incredibly successful runs of Waid and Johns. Yes, those are some brilliant storylines, but I want to be surprised and amazed with stories I could never imagine for this character.