Written By Alisha Weinberger
At the scene of a grisly murder, Barry Allen returns not in red spandex, but this time in a lab coat. It’s easy to forget that The Flash, unlike other DC heroes, protects and serves the public both in and out of the suit. Very rarely do writers explore Allen’s civilian ego as a crime scene investigator, which considering the tragic death of his mother, is vital to his character’s notion of justice. In fact this aspect is so vital, that it drove the scientist and speedster to create a universal time paradox and alternate reality when he attempted to change the past and save his mother. Similar to Wonder Woman #1 Rebirth, there is quite a bit of internal narration.
Despite the introspection, the first half of Flash Rebirth #1 is a stimulating read. Readers get a glimpse of visions from Barry’s past including events from The Flashpoint Paradox and the newest villain in the speed force, the killer Godspeed; the villain fans were promised at the Wondercon Rebirth panel a few months back. There is also the inclusion of Barry Allen’s father as a mentor. The first half reads almost like a detective story, with Barry reeling from investigating a murder similar to his mother’s and foreboding visions. This noir atmosphere is further enforced with a beautiful, electric palette of colorist Ivan Plascencia; the cooler hues contrasted with splashes technicolor, is a welcome departure from the typically glossy art from previous Flash comics.
However, the second half of the book feels like a forced, awkward shift from the initial story. Rather than fleshing out the introduction’s murder scene, how it relates to Barry Allen, or Godspeed, it is a recap of the events of the DC Universe Rebirth #1 and Wally West’s return to his timeline. It is frustrating to start a new thrilling story arc in the life of Central City’s speedster, only to be met with “Read DCU: Rebirth for the full scoop with what’s happening here!” Even for a recap, the second half isn’t very new reader friendly, and for those who didn’t read the DCU: Rebirth special, or even Flashpoint may be lost. The latter half feels arbitrary, trying to push readers into buying a dense one-shot issue.
New readers are given enough backstory to at least understand who Barry Allen is, and long-time fans get to delve into a side of The Flash not often explored, specifically his relationship with his father and Allen’s role as an investigator. But what starts out as a thrilling mystery story, not usually associated with this character, fizzles out into a lackadaisical and shoehorned summary. It is a missed opportunity to hit the ground running with a new story arc. The vibrant colors and eye-catching panels are certainly the star of this book and carry the reader through even the second half.