Flash: Rebirth #1
OK, so here we go, the mini that may make or break the existence of a Flash ongoing from DC for quite a while. Based on the mixed reviews of Final Crisis, the not-so-mixed reviews about the state of the Flash ever since Johns left the book last time, and the so-far lukewarm-at-best response to the idea of Barry Allen returning at all, I'd say this book's already walking a tightrope 300 feet up with no net before it even starts. And after reading the first issue...let's just say my opinion is that it's leaning more towards ending like the Flying Graysons than like Dick Grayson. Because this...is NOT the blockbuster I think Didio's praying it will be. At least, not yet.
First, the story: A crazed killer with a lightning-bolt-topped cane breaks into Central City's crime lab and kills two cops, then recreates the accident that turned Barry into the Flash, making him a charred-looking speedster (I assume...we don't actually see powers). The Flash Museum is having a huge day honoring the return of Barry and Bart, and Barry goes by to see what he's missed. We get peeks into what the Rogues, Gorilla City gorillas, and other non-team Rogues think of the return, as well as "Welcome Back" party preparations at JSA HQ, Titans HQ, and (Teen) Titans Tower, as Jay, Wally, and Bart all talk about Barry (mostly in Johns' patented "I love the Silver Age guys, let me drone on about how great and influential they are" way, with one glaring exception). We see a corpse in a Flash costume (looks like the Black Flash) in a cornfield in Iowa. And we see Hal show up at the Museum to talk to Barry, when Barry undergoes some vibrations and a fairly sudden mood swing, stating he must get to work, that he can't waste a second, and that he will "never be late again". Barry starts running, and we get this issue's doozy of a retcon, showing us that Barry's dad was arrested for murdering his mom. HUH??? Really, Didio? Really, Johns? We know he didn't do it, we saw Barry and his dad hanging out all the time in Barry's old series. Barry needs that kind of "dark past mystery" like I need a hole in the head. Then, out of nowhere Savitar pops out of the Speed Force (YAY!) only to be killed when Barry touches him (BOO!), which also sets off a chain reaction, hurting everybody other speedster we've seen this issue.
I normally don't pick at stuff like this, b/c I enjoy interconnectedness and I'm smart enough to know you can't coordinate everything and I know different stuff takes place at different places on the comics time stream, but trying to "place" this in the DC chronology will make your head explode. Bart's back in the present, Robin's still with the Teen Titans, Nightwing's still Nightwing hanging with the Titans, Hal's slumming on earth instead of knee-deep in Rainbow Brite Lanterns in space...it's a mess. The aforementioned "murder of Mom" retcon...needless and frankly irritating. Barry's mood shift...better have a GOOD in-story explanation coming Johns, or that's just poor writing and near-character assassination of a guy everybody builds up as such a nice and moral guy. Bart's indifference/disdain towards Barry's return felt REALLY forced. And on and on. This just wasn't a well written issue IMO...too much exposition and setting up of multiple mysteries that don't feel necessary to bring back Barry. I just did not feel it...but MAN, it is one gorgeous book to look at. Van Sciver is easily the saving grace here, and almost makes it worth the price of admission and then some on his own. I'll stick around to see if Johns really has a plan here and if it gets better, but first impression? I did not like
War of Kings #2
In this issue, the good guys get a little payback. The Shi'ar set off a Nega-Bomb, Vulcan taunts Lilandra, the Kree are pissed at their new Royal Family, Crystal wins the common folk over (to which Karnak, Medusa, and the rest discuss among themselves how good a performance it was and how it "almost seemed real"; a nice touch to differentiate how in-human some of the Inhumans are in opposition to how human Crys can be), Maximus builds new weapons of war, and Triton and the Starjammers join those new weapons and lay waste to a whole squadron of Shi'ar ships. Vulcan then gets pissed, and lines up to kill Lilandra in Gladiator's arms.
Another solid, action-packed entry in this event. DnA mix the big blows with the soft touches well, and Pelletier brings the pretty as always. Really liked it.