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Comic Book Review: Flash: Rebirth #1 by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver

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Barry Allen, the Flash of the 1950s, more commonly known as the second Flash, has been reborn in the capable hands of Geoff Johns, DC Comics’ stellar re-inventor of superheroes. The first issue of the five-issue mini-series is off and running at retailers now. The first issue printing sold out the first day and a second printing has been delivered.

When I first heard the rumors of the possibility of Barry Allen’s return substantiated, I really didn't know how I felt. Barry Allen was the Flash I grew up with, and I’ll never forget Carmine Infantino’s elegant and unique art during his run on the series. The Barry Allen Flash run was like no other comic series at the time. It was smart, funny, and filled with scientific theories thanks to a science fiction writers like Gardner F. Fox, who also brought back the original Jay Garrick Flash from the 1940s in an issue called “Flash of Two Worlds!”

I’m also going to blame Gardner F. Fox for the whole parallel worlds problem that cropped up later. And yes, folks, that’s a joke. Personally, I enjoy multiple earths.

But there were several crises that arose from the Earth One and Earth Two conundrum involving various origin stories of heroes. DC, for whatever reason, kept trying to reconcile the idea of multiple earths and ended up muddying the whole mythology of several characters for many years.

During the crisis back in 1985, Barry Allen sacrificed himself and died. He’s been dead for 25 years, although Mark Waid brought him back for a brief run in a special Brave And The Bold miniseries that was absolutely wonderful.

With the latest crisis finally set to rest, although now Bruce Wayne is presumably dead or at least lost in time, Barry Allen has returned. Fans are waiting to see what effect that is going to have with the other Flash characters as well as the DC universe.

Writer Geoff Johns is known for his incredible talent in resurrecting characters by reestablishing the conceit that first brought those heroes to life. His work on the Justice Society of America and Hawkman has been fantastic, but he has really hit his stride on Green Lantern.

Now he’s bringing the lightning back to Barry Allen. This first issue serves as an introduction to the whole Flash mythology. All the major players are gathered here and are on stage, and they’re not all happy to see Barry Allen back among them. Bart Allen, another character that has worn the Flash costume, is back from the dead as well.

I was really surprised by the fact that Barry Allen didn't put in an appearance in his own comic book until page 16. But when he did, it was with Hal Jordan, Green Lantern. These two characters have shared a long history, and Geoff Johns is the one who figures out why: they’re both on police forces. Hal Jordan is a police officer and Barry Allen is a forensic scientist. One of the things that’s going to be interesting about his work is the fact that chemical reactions can’t be speeded up. No matter how fast Barry Allen is, he has to wait on results in his chosen field just like everyone else.

So many questions are currently up in the air about Barry’s return. Especially since this is only a five-issue miniseries. I’m anxiously awaiting to see if he goes or stays, and if he stays, where is he going to be? We already seem to have Flashes running out our ears. But I trust that Geoff Johns and DC comics will find a place for Barry Allen. And I’m really curious where it’s going to be.

This issue is an outstanding example of good comic book writing. The characters are immediately engaging even if you don’t have a history with them. With all the backstory involved with the story of the Flash, trying to reveal all of the events can seem daunting. Geoff Johns handles it easily, then jump starts right into his own story.

I loved the mysterious setup at the beginning. It smacks so much of Barry’s own origins, and then it turns so monstrously wrong. The ending has me hanging, anxiously awaiting next issue.

Ethan Van Sciver also served as artist on Green Lantern: Rebirth. His art is simply fantastic. Reading this issue, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the variety of angles that Van Sciver uses throughout the story. Several times while reading the comic, the art seemed to break that fourth wall and be a peek into a whole world.

These five issues are going to be dynamite, however the story ends. I love the hero and I love the way Geoff Johns has brought him to life. Van Sciver’s artistic presentation of the Flash, in fact all the Flashes, is marvelous. I can hardly wait till the graphic novel comes out.

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