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Review Group: Flash: Rebirth#1

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, April 07 2009 and posted in Reviews

This week's pick was put up for a vote for new comics shipping April 1st and the group overwhelmingly chose Flash: Rebirth #1 by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver and Alex Sinclair. 

The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together each week to discuss comics and post our reviews for a comic that we each take turns selecting.  Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

Flash weeks always end in tears for the Review Group, but this is Johns and Van Sciver so an epic win was inevitable, right?  Err, maybe not...

Review by amlah6

I think like a lot of people, I'm pretty conflicted about this series. What I know about Barry Allen I like (especially Mark Waid's Life Story of the Flash graphic novel), but Wally West feels to me like he's been the Flash forever so it's going to seem really weird when this series is over and he isn't 'The Flash' anymore.

Really, that's all I thought about while reading this issue. What's going to happen to Wally? The comic itself was pitch perfect in all of the technical aspects. It sets up the characters, it reintroduces Barry, gives a brief recap of how things got to this point and delivers a mystery to propel the series going forward. The characterization was spot on and as annoying as I've always felt Bart to be, his character pretty much said everything I was feeling about the situation in general. Barry is the past and Wally has earned his place. Johns does a nice job of trying to reposition it as Barry is the present and Wally is the future, but it's going to take some time for me to buy into that. I still haven't bought in to Hal Jordan over Kyle Rayner and everyone else seems to love the post-Rebirth GL so obviously I'm stubborn.

I'm trying to think of the last time I saw Van Sciver on interiors and it's probably the last Rebirth series and before that it was probably Cyberfrog. Stylistically, the pencils felt a bit more loose to me than they should in a Flash comic. Layouts and characters and expressiveness were all fine, but that looseness felt distracting to me throughout the issue. I also would have liked to see the colors in the issue to be a bit brighter, but that could have just been the space I was in.

I'm not sure yet if I'll continue reading this in single issues or if I'll be waiting for it to be collected, I was hoping this issue would make that choice for me.

Story: 9
Art: 7.5
Overall: 8.25
Review by McKegan

I was taken aback a bit by some of Sciver's (sp?) art choices. The art seemed really busy, really dense, with a lot of extreme close-ups. There's, like, no breathing space between panels. I've got to assume this was all intentional.

Review by Alex Delarge

I both loved and was ticked off by this issue. On the one hand the visuals and most of the story are amazing, on the other hand the continuity stuff is really bothersome. I shouldn't have to read Legion of 3-Worlds to understand the return of Bart. All Flash continuity stuff should have been told in the pages of The Flash. What a waste. But, despite those flaws, I really like Barry, he seems like a totally hardass when it comes to right and wrong and I love that about him. I am looking forward to what Johns has in store and intrigued by what I have seen so far.

Story 7
Art 9

Overall 8

Review by 48THRiLLS

After reading this I thought 3 things:
1. How many god damned Flashes are there and does there need to be this many? It's like all the size changing characters in the Marvel U.
2. What was the point of bringing this Flash back? Other than to add another Speedster to the DC bullpen.
3. How does the Flash run so fast in those moon boots?

I did not care for this, it never had a chance really but I wanted to like it... I even Wiki'd Barry Allen before I read this so I had a clue about him. This probably works better if you are a fan of the character and know all the mythos and whatnot but for fresh eyes like mine this was a snoozer. The art was a mixed bag, some panels were amazing (anything with running) and some were eh.


ART - 7.5


Review by Daringd

I wanted to LOVE this but instead I just liked it. The story felt off and the art was clunky and crowded. It was a very lackluster beginning to the mini even if the ending somewhat made up for it. Overall it didn’t work that well. Recommended but only because what the future holds for the book.


Review by starlord

I read this twice because I was really torn. I wanted to like this more than what I actually did. The art was beautiful for me, and the actual writing was pretty good, but the story itself, very disappointing. The whole father issue is a major one for me, and one that should not have been changed. There was no need for it. Barry's return was story enough. A man out of time. One of the Silver Age Heroes return who has been out of touch for so long. Why bog it down with a retcon that muddy's the water. I'm one of John's fans, and proud of it, but this was just disappointing.

Art: 9
Story: 6

My Score: 7.75

Review by GLX

A nice opening issue by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver. The basic setup was solid and it moved at a nice pace. One thing that I want to point out is the choices that were made in some of the panel designs. There are some moments that are wonderfully designed that give the comic a nice feel. Everything worked with this comic and I'm looking forward to the next issue.

8* out of 10*

View the rest of GLX's Side Dish reviews here:

Review by Punchy

Story - So, Barry Allen is back, Bartholomew Henry Allen is back, and how does that make you feel? On the whole, response to this particular resurrection has been lukewarm at best, most people like Barry, but simply prefer Wally West more, and this is the trouble Johns faces here, this isn't like Green Lantern, where there was a rabid fan base already asking for Hal, everyone has accepted that Barry Allen is gone, and moved on, so maybe this is why the series is presenting that as Barry the character himself, the DCU has accepted that he's dead, and so has he somewhat, so how do we justify this Rebirth?

Well, it remains unclear as of yet, but this comic was of a high-enough quality that Barry's return may have some merit. I haven't read much of Johns' previous Flash work with Wally, apart from 1 trade and the recent Rogue's Revenge Final Crisis mini-series, so I am being dropped into an unfamiliar world of bad speed-related puns and cheesy museums, ('hurry up and get it done', 'everybody wants to move faster today' a bit too on the nose there Geoff), but I didn't mind. The opening few pages are an atmospheric, first person sequence, which was an odd, and unusual choice, but I suppose it's a better, more original way to hide the identity of this new villain than shadow over his face, after this violent opening gambit, we get decidedly lighter, as the return of Barry celebrations begin across Keystone and Central Cities, and we see 3 generations of the Flash legacy discuss what Barry means to them, it is these scenes, particularly the Jay one which disappoint me the most about this comic. In what bizarre world does Barry Allen inspire Jay Garrick? It's the other way around! This is ridiculous writing, serving only to show how weak the reasoning behind Barry's return is, it's bad writing, and one of the worst things I've read from Johns, he's not writing characters here, he's writing a HEAT (it's BASH for Barry right)-esque fan-fic, and it just annoys me, the Wally scene is better, there are legitimate reasons for him to be inspired by Barry, he was his sidekick after all, but Bart’s is the most true, and shows Johns for once not treating his characters as perfect (Oh Hal! You're so awesome!), so he was messiah to everyone, so what? Exactly Bart, Exactly.

So after pages of everyone talking up the character like he's some kind of Jesus-like Adonis with perfect morals and a sexy ass and awesome hair, what do we get when we actually see Barry? We see him as a fairly decent and normal guy, slightly overwhelmed, but pleased by the increased pace of modern life (with DC's shrinking timeline, how long has Barry been gone in their time really? Probably only about 3 years!), it is this scene with Hal where Johns shines, we see that the character is non-plussed by all this attention, I hope this is what Johns aims to do with this mini and the subsequent ongoing, the Myth of Barry Allen has become so inflated, that he needs to deflate that, and show that, he's just a guy, but on the basis of the sickening Jay scene, it seems unlikely, all-conquering Hal Jordan 2.0 here we go! But maybe not, hopefully not, I pray not, deflate Geoff! Deflate! After this, we see Barry run off to fight some crime or something, and a flashback which has proved controversial, Geoff retcons it that Barry Allen's mother, who was alive when he died in Crisis, was killed when he was a child, and his father was a suspect, this too me is conflicting, it's certainly an interesting way to take things, a twist on Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne, but seems entirely unnecessary, the Barry Allen of old did not have this back-story and motivation, and when you've just spent 25 pages explaining why Barry was so great, it seems kind of counter-intuitive to me to introduce an element which fundamentally alters the character, if you're going to bring Barry back, why bring back a different guy? But I can see the logic behind it, the old, happy-go-lucky Barry Allen probably wouldn't cut in today's modern age of Dark Knights and Dark Reigns, so this may be necessary, but still, it was presented poorly, in contrast with the previous pages. It's also interesting in that Johns is playing on Fatherly relationships with Barry like he is with Hal, at this rate, the DCU is going to end up like LOST (seriously, nobody has a good relationship with their dads in that show, except the ones who's parents are dead), what is Geoff's deal? Does his dad have lot to answer for? It's his fault we had to suffer through Infinite Crisis and Thy Kingdom Come!

After this flashback, Waid-Era Flash villain Savitar pops out of Barry's chest in a weird scene, and then Barry touches him and he dies... what? Yeah, it was odd, but a decent cliffhanger all in all. So, overall, what did I, Punchy, the famed Johns and Silver-Age hater make of the return of a Silver-Age favourite? I thought it was decent, I had some problems with it, the mum murder retcon and the Jay Garrick scene were the worst offenders, but it was well-constructed and showed an awareness of the ambivalence surrounding Barry's return, and set up some interesting threads, so it's an entertaining, if not spectacular read, with some typical Geoff Johns problems and tropes.

Art - I think Ethan Van Sciver is one of the best artists currently working for DC Comics, so often they lag behind Marvel, who have a modern-looking stable, but DC is stuck in the past, with the exception of about artists, Van Sciver is one of them, he's just great, and his art is a big reason why this comic works, he's got a great sense of design, and plays around with the silly elements like speed trails well, and there were some excellent touches here, like the previously mentioned first person opening scene and the transitions between the present day and flashback, good stuff, but it would have been better with Moose Baumann colouring it, can't believe DC fucked up so much to piss him off.

Best Line - It's hard to choose one, not because there are too many, but because I find Johns to be terrible at crafting dialogue, it's so clunky and declarative, all those speed related nudges, where he thinks he's being clever, but it's just lame, and that innocent and guilty stuff, ugh, so no, there was no best line here, just average lines, and terrible clunky obvious ones, he's one step away from Claremont, truly.


Review by thefourthman

So here's the thing, I have never been a big fan of the Flash. To me, he got the short end of the stick in Superpowers along with the Atom and Hank Pym. They get small, the Flash runs really fast. I know that there is more to it than that, but from an outsider's stand point that is basically true. If I were not an insatiable comic book junkie, I would know no more than that about those characters.

To make matters worse, my history with the Flash comics is not all that great either. The Millar/Morrison stuff is okay. I read the end of Wally's last run but was hardly impressed. The beginning of Bart's run as the big cheese was awful, but when Guggenheim came on, he knocked it out of the park. Only to have a short run where they killed the poor bastard. Then Waid came back and wrote a really interesting super hero family book, but then he left the book and it got convoluted and eventually disappeared so that Barry could come back. Seriously, this is why people think comics are hard to get into. Then there is Jay Garrick and it gets even more complicated. Then there is the fact that all the fucking Flashes (except for maybe Jay) have DIED. All of them. Jesus.

The next problem that the Flash presents is laid exposed in this issue Bart is not only alive again (ruining the much delayed Legion of Three Worlds), but also a kid again. Jeez. Some one draw me a flow chart. Oh wait, Marvel did that for Spider-Man once and my head exploded.

Alright, so now that I am done griping about convoluted continuity - seriously this is what Giffen is talking about, just write good books, screw making them all line up, the fans are going to bitch either way. Johns does manage to write a decent book here. There are a few problems - like I have no idea what happened in the first few pages of the book in the lab. Also, I have no idea how Barry is alive. It is as clear as mud. However, Johns does write a hugely entertaining, readable story that shows how important Barry is to the DC Universe. I may be confused by some of the small details like why so much hate is being thrown Oliver's way, but it was readable. Problem is, even with all that set up to the character's importance - I still don't care. Mostly because I don't know anything about this guy. Nothing. Not only that, even with all the importance talk in the book, he is still just a guy who runs fast. Speed Force schmeed force...

Sciver's art is real nice. Everything looks cool. There are just some unclear things going on. Like the stripe behind the panels was confusing, it was distracting. I am sure it was just a cosmetic choice, but I kept looking for some meaning in it. The other problem is it is so busy. There is a scene in the museum where Barry and Hal are walking through looking at stuff and Flash is running but Hal is at each exhibit with him. I have no idea what that is supposed to convey. That is a problem. It looks nice, but some times it gets in the way of the story and comics are supposed to be a synthesis of the two - words and pictures. If the pictures are sometimes hard to understand, it lessens the importance on them being pretty.

Despite all my reservations about this title (I can tell you right now, if after this there is a Flash book for about a year and one of these fuckers dies I will never ever read another Flash book again, that shit is getting played out), this is a good dense read, in fact it kind of felt like reading a trade, which in the days of super decompressed comics is a fantastic thing. It is a solid readable effort, I am just unsure how much I care.

Story 6
Art 6
Overall 6

Review by Sire v 2.0

I don’t know what I think, I was just eh, and when the hell did Bart come back! And as a kid WTF! They really need recap pages at DC jeez! I dunno, it was hmmmm sigh. I felt like I am SUPPOSED to love this since its a Rebirth, but it really didn't do anything to make me care about Barry as compared to the others, just glad Bart is back.

Whatever I will score this overall - 7.

The art on this thing REALLY saves the overall score.

Review by doombug

So Barry Allen is back and I should be excited, the flash universe is finally getting the reboot it needs after everything that's happened the last couple years. Bart's been de-aged, 2 speedsters one in a black costume and the other who was apparently trapped in the speed force both meet a horrible fate and Barry Allen confronts his past head on with his best friend. Honestly though...something feels like it's missing here, like we only got a third of what we should have.

The Hal/Barry stuff was essential and honestly needs to be throughout the series, maybe add some Ollie in too with that weird friendship which was even eluded too. Plenty of Flash continuity is used but honestly I'm not sure what holds up. I wanted to love this, I really did. But Bart sounded off and out of character, not to mention this doesn't really fit into current continuity from what we know (Tim still being with the titans, Bart being back on the team) Oh and the speedsters that die...does anyone really care? Those were the most useless deaths ever which is funny seeing as that every other character that Geoff killed is now apparently back. Oh and don't even get me started on Wally's treatment here, I usually trust Geoff with these characters...what happened?

Verdict: This is a solid 6, really hoping next issue gets better as the flash universe deserves the All-Star treatment.

Review by guitarsmashley

I apologize for the very short review but having reread this book I think the story was incredibly weak and when the hell did Bart come back to life? Also for someone that wrote Wally so well he made Wally a pretty hateful guy who wanted his kids to sit down shut and stop being morons. Also I don't give a shit about Barry Allen he's done nothing for me like Wally did in Johns run in the Flash and Bart in Johns run in Teen Titans so really why should I care about Barry. The art was the saving grace of the book it looked good but not as good as GL Rebirth.


Review by young neil

Ok well that was not what I was expecting I loved Green Lantern Rebirth. This, not so much. I always hear that there have been some amazing Flash stories over the year and every time a new writer has come on board lately I always give it a try and have so far not been impressed.

I have to agree with fourthman that as far as superheroes go I always felt like the flash and the size changing characters always got the short end of the stick and to a certain degree characters like plastic man and Mr. Fantastic as well. I mean if a bullet is lucky enough to hit the flash, no two ways about it, there's a good chance he could die.

One thing that irked me about this issue was the, what, five flashes. Is it just me or is DC really trying to make a legacy out of their big players these days. There's like 4 green lanterns from Earth, there's 5 flashes, 7 or so Bat-related characters. The issue itself didn't really do much for me at all. It set up a general story and teased at what was to come, but to me a first issue should draw the reader in, and this fell short by a long way. It just felt like they had no stories left for the flash character, so the best they could come up with was "lets bring Barry back!".

The characterization felt off as mentioned above by others, the worst culprit is poor Wally West, and Bart. The art in this issue was really hit or miss, it felt like he spent way too much time on the panels where it looks like the character is just posing for the audience and then just phoned the rest of the issue in. The best part of the book was Hal and Barry and their conversation in the Flash museum.

This is the same team from Green Lantern Rebirth if I recall properly, I expected a lot more that what was the lackluster re-introduction of Barry Allen.

Overall 6.5

Review by Mr. Black

I came in with lowered expectations, but I thought the comic was excellent! While I do admit that the parent-murder retcon was unneeded, the moments with Wally and Bart were excellent (I especially like that Bart is unhappy that his grandfather came back rather than someone else), and I liked the nods to both Waid's and Johns' prior stories (Savitar? Really?), as well as Bart's brief time as the Flash. I think the angle that Johns is taking with Barry (doesn't think he deserved to come back, thinks his time on Earth is limited) is a good one, the story he is writing fits well with Final Crisis (Barry didn't really need to come back for that, and there is more to the story than was originally revealed), and I like that he's making room for the other Flashes.

I would still rather stick with Wally as the Flash, but this is probably the next best thing. More than met my expectations.

I'll add that I was pleasantly surprised by EVS's work on this book. His previous art for Flash was really hit or miss for me, although he has improved by leaps and bounds in the past several years. I still don't like some of his faces, but this was, by far, the best work he's ever done.

Story: 8
Art: 8
Overall: 8


Review by Chubbles

I don't know much about the history of the flashes so a lot of this issue went over my head but i still got the point of the issue. This is basically re-introducing an iconic character into the main DCU. It achieved that for the most part but overall as a stand alone issue it wasn't anything spectacular. I liked the Rebirth mini and the recahrge mini for the GL but I may have to pass on this Flash rebirth as it didn't pique my interest quite as much as it should have. The art however was very good so that was by far the best thing about this issue.

Story 5
Art 8
Overall 6.5


That gives Flash: Rebirth #1 a group score of 6.93.  That's better than any of the previous Flash weeks for sure, but that's not really saying much. 

For further discussion about this issue and our reviews, feel free to join us in this week's thread ( found in the Newstand forum where you are also invited to join the group by posting your own review.

young neil has the pick for April 8th and he has selected Wolverine: Weapon X #1 from Marvel Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to join in on the fun.

Wolverine: Weapon X #1


“THE ADAMANTIUM MEN” Part 1 (of 5)
In the jungles of Colombia, people are turning up dead, whole villages brutally slaughtered by a team of soldiers who move through the shadows like ghosts. On the streets of San Francisco, Logan learns that the files from the old Weapon X program, the blueprints for building Adamantium-laced super soldiers like himself, have fallen into the hands of the evil corporation, Roxxon. Once again, it seems, someone is looking to build the perfect killing machine. That means it's time for Wolverine to step in, and remind them that someone already did. Plus 8 pages of Director's Cut Extras!



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