After Barry Allen tried to prevent his mother’s death, he created an alternate future on the verge of destroying itself. At Thomas Wayne’s behest, Flash went back in time to stop himself, and a new version of the universe was created out of the old that merged the distinct and separate DC, Vertigo, and Wildstorm entities.
Until now, Allen believed he was responsible for the New 52 universe, but a sudden appearance by pre-Flashpoint Wally West trying to escape the Speed Force turns everything on its head.
The reveal — you should read DC Universe: Rebirth #1 if you need a primer — is that someone else existing outside of time and place had a hand in creating this new timeline, bending and removing events, relationships, and key factors in order to keep the heroes weakened.
Flash: Rebirth #1 takes readers through what happened before, during, and after Wally West appeared to Barry, starting with a murder case that reminds Allen of his mother’s death — the very thing that kicked off Flashpoint.
It’s appropriate then that while working on the crime scene, Barry begins to see visions. Each of them is a portent to the future — first, Wally, who will appear before Barry just moments before he’s about to be disintegrated by the Speed Force. Another vision of a figure appears, threatening, “I’m going to kill them all, Flash.” The last vision is of Barry himself trying to kill Zoom, as the Speedster yells, “Not again!”
The visions have an impact on Barry’s mental state, and he spends the rest of the issue laying down the foundation for the first story arc to come. He visits his father to get advice, tries to solve the case of the murdered woman, and continues his work as a superhero.
And on a fateful night, he encounters the manifestation of his first vision. Though Barry doesn’t recognize Wally at first, the Speed Force plays a part in the friends reconnecting. Allen pulls West into this timeline and gets a lesson on the history of the current world as he learns about an outside force tampering with time.
A mysterious force that watches them.
Barry suggests seeing Iris, but Wally knows no one else will recognize him. In the Rebirth Special, Wally tried reaching out to his former friends and wife Linda, only to be rebuffed time and time again because the connections had been severed just as various other relationships in the DCU had been tampered with.
In order to stop the outsiders, Wally begins searching for the Teen Titans while Barry visits with Bruce Wayne. Wayne has already been visited by the “man made of lightning,” and he’s examined the smiley face button left behind in the Batcave. The pair decide to keep it between themselves until they learn more, and Allen heads back to the crime scene as the investigation closes with the murderer having confessed to the crime. In the sky above, a storm hits.
Flash: Rebirth #1 is a preview of things to come. From the interviews with the creative team, we know that Barry’s second vision is of his newest villain — Godspeed — and that Wally ditches his Kid Flash costume for something a little more appropriate. Wally will make his way off to the next Titans series, and Barry will continue his exploits in the Flash title.
Joshua Williamson’s scripting for this issue gives us a good look at whether or not he’s got a good grasp on the character, and it’s clear Flash is in good hands. While we don’t get anything super noteworthy — that’s partly due to the preview nature of the Rebirth specials — Williamson establishes himself by taking us around the block to show us what’s to come. We learn more about Barry’s relationship with his father, the working relationship with Batman, and who Allen trusts when he suggests visiting Iris.
We also see some tension between Barry and Director David Singh. These relationships will be the foundation for Williamson’s first arc, and Williamson has the voicing and atmosphere down.
Carmine Di Giandeomenico’s art works really well — his style is perfectly suited for showing motion and speed. With a character like Flash, the artist needs to have a good handling of physics and anatomy in motion. Giandomenico is a great choice, and so is Ivan Plascencia on colors. Together, the artistic team creates panels that never feel static. There’s a lot of visual energy buzzing through these pages, which is a requirement for this title.
While I would have liked to see more of what’s to come, new readers should have an easy time making out what’s going on. Williamson somehow manages to implement backstory, a bit of Barry’s origin, whatever’s happening in the present, and what’s about to happen in the future without bogging things down. All the while, we’re treated to some cool art.
How’s that for Flash?
Previous Issue: DC Universe: Rebirth #1