Flash: Rebirth #6 Review
- Published on Monday, 01 March 2010 11:14
- Written by Rokk
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It is hard to believe that Flash: Rebirth #6 has finally arrived. The first issue of Flash: Rebirth came out on April 1, 2009. It has taken DC nearly a year to publish a six-issue mini-series. The miserable shipping schedule for Flash: Rebirth has made a slow story seem even slower. It has also robbed me of much of my interest in this title. At this point, I just want to get this perfunctory task of “re-establishing” Barry Allen via Flash: Rebirth over and move on to the new Flash monthly title. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Flash: Rebirth #6.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Ethan Van Sciver
Inks: Ethan Van Sciver and Scott Hanna
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Barry racing after Reverse Flash. Barry thinks about how he built the Cosmic Treadmill in order to allow him to travel through time and arrive precisely at a certain date. Otherwise, Barry would have had no control over what year he would arrive in when travelling through time. However, Reverse Flash has the ability by himself to travel through time and arrive at whatever point in time that he desires.
Barry thinks how he cannot catch up to Reverse Flash. That Reverse Flash killed his mother and now he is on his way to kill Iris. Barry thinks how he refuses to give up and that he will save Iris. Barry’s legs start to give out on him. Barry strains and says that all he needs is a little push in order to catch up with Reverse Flash.
Wally then arrives next to Barry and says “I’ve got you.” Wally grabs onto Barry and keeps Barry from falling. The two then continue running after Reverse Flash. Barry tells Wally that Thawne (Reverse Flash) is running back in time to change the past. Barry tells Wally that Thawne murdered Barry’s mother.
We cut to Thawne saying to himself that as long as he kills Iris that everything will be all right. We cut back to Wally saying that altering the past is supposed to be impossible. Barry replies that it is impossible according to every rule that they know, but that somehow Reverse Flash did it. Barry says that Thawne did not kill Barry in the past because Thawne needs Barry alive. That Reverse Flash’s Negative Speed Force cannot exist without Barry’s Speed Force.
Barry says that Reverse Flash has always been after Iris. We cut to Iris in the past purchasing the legendary bowtie for Barry prior to their first date. We cut back to Wally telling Barry that he has travelled through time without a Cosmic Treadmill before. That they have to run through the Speed Force and past the time barrier. Then they can follow Thawne’s trail.
We flashback to the past with Barry working late while Iris is arriving at the restaurant for their first date. Barry, at the police department, realizes that he is late for his date with Iris. We then see Thawne racing toward Iris with his lightning bolt tipped rod in his hands. We see Barry and Wally hot on Thawne’s trail.
We then see the lightning striking the chemicals in the police lab and Barry gaining his super powers. We see Barry and Wally catch Thawne right before he is able to stab Iris. The lightning tipped rod stays frozen in the air in front of Iris as Barry and Wally chase after Thawne.
Thawne rants how neither Barry nor Wally will have a happy future. Thawne then whispers to Wally that when Wally’s children get older that one of them will destroy Wally’s life.
Barry then grabs Thawne and begins to push Thawne through the Speed Force. Barry says that Thawne’s games are over. Barry says that he has learned a lot about the Speed Force thanks to Thawne. Including what lightning rods mean to people like them.
Barry says that all the speedsters need on in order to ground them when they move too fast and lose control. However, Barry points out that Thawne has never loved anyone. That Jay, Wally and Barry all have their lightning rods, but Thawne never got his. Until now.
We then see Barry pushing Thawne right to the glass container where the members of the JSA and JLA are waiting. Barry says that Thawne should consider this an early Christmas gift. Barry pushes Thawne into the container. Jay then activates the container. Suddenly, Thawne is cut off from the negative Speed Force.
Thawne is now depowered. However, if he starts to run he will power back up again. Therefore, Kid Flash quickly wraps Thawne up in chains so he cannot move. We then cut back into the past and see iris standing there as the lightning bolt tipped rod suddenly drops at her feet. Iris picks up the lightning rod and wonders what it is. Kid Flash looks at Barry and says that they have won. Kid Flash asks what they are going to do next. Barry answers “We try this again.”
We cut to the next day and see a massive Flash parade in Central City celebrating the glorious return of Barry Allen.
We cut to Keystone City where we see Thawne being kept in a cell at Iron Heights. Zoom’s cell is next to Thawne’s cell. Zoom (Hunter Zolomon) says that he thinks they can help one another get better.
We cut to Gorilla City and see the leader of Gorilla City drawing a giant cave painting of Reverse Flash with red lightning bolts coming out of him and striking small figures of other runners around him. The gorilla says that it is worse than he feared. That Reverse Flash has done something unnatural to their jungles.
We shift to a mysterious person (who must be Abra Kadabra) hanging up a couple of Reverse Flash marionettes. The mysterious person says that if Thawne wanted him to keep out of this then Thawne should have made sure he was dead. The mysterious person says that he has much more up his sleeve than Thawne could ever imagine.
We cut to Barry at police headquarters officially closing the cold case involving his mother’s murder. Barry tells the Captain that it is time that he moves forward. Barry says that he always believed his father’s innocence and that is enough.
Barry notices that the cold case file room is crammed full of boxes of various closed cold cases. The Captain says that these are all the cases that they could not solve while Barry was away. Barry tells the Captain “Consider them mine.”
We slide over to the Rogues talking about how Barry Allen is really back. Captain Cold says that they need to get working on their contingency plan that Scudder came up with. Captain Cold says “In case the Flash returns break glass.”
We hop over to Central City, where Iris and Barry are unpacking a box of Barry’s mementos. Iris pulls out Thawne’s lightning bolt tipped rod. Iris tells Barry that she kept the rod because she thought it was a sign. Iris says that she felt like she was struck by lightning that night, too. Iris asks Barry if unpacking his boxes this slowly is driving him nuts.
Barry replies that he is fine. Barry says that he doesnot want to do everything fast. (For Iris’ sake I should hope not.) Iris responds that Barry has said this before. Barry replies that this time he means it. Barry says that when Thawne released him from the Speed Force that Barry felt like he could not afford to waste a single second. Yet, all that happened was that Barry ended up wasting it all.
Barry continues that he was moving so fast that he missed the Reverse Flash and the truth behind the Speed Force. That Barry shut himself off from Hal and Wally and most importantly from Iris. Barry says that no matter how fast Barry moves that time will keep ticking away. That time will never stop. But, Barry says that when he is with Iris it feels like time stops. Barry and Iris then hug and kiss. We see their wedding picture.
We shift to the JLA Hall of Justice in Washington, DC. The various JLA’ers have decorated the place for a big welcome back party for Barry. They are all standing around waiting for Barry. Green Arrow has already snuck a piece of the cake. Barry Allen then appears on the scene. Barry smiles and says “Hey, guys. Sorry I’m late.” End of issue.
The Good: Flash: Rebirth #6 was part conclusion to the Rebirth story and part preview for the new Flash monthly title. The first fifteen pages of Flash: Rebirth #6 concludes the story of Rebirth itself. The final seven pages are teaser pages that serve as a preview of what the reader can expect to see over in the new Flash monthly title.
I am split on how Johns designed this issue. Part of me understands the need to plant some plotlines in this issue that will be nurtured and grown to maturity over in the new Flash monthly. However, part of me views Flash: Rebirth #6 as a relatively anti-climactic ending. I’ll address this topic further in “The Bad” section of this review.
There were plenty of enjoyable aspects to Flash: Rebirth #6. Johns continues to impress me with his handling of Barry’s character. This issue, and Flash: Rebirth in general, has been more of a character study of Barry Allen rather than a murder mystery or action story. Johns puts a fitting end on Barry’s re-acclimation into the modern DCU. The progression of Barry’s character during Rebirth unfolds in an organic fashion and concludes in a logical manner.
Johns effectively uses the theme of time when dealing with Barry’s coping with his return to life. Time is a prevalent theme with any speedster. Barry’s immediate response to being brought back to life of refusing to waste a single second and being obsessed with never stopping made perfect sense. Death would certainly give anyone a sense of purpose, focus and urgency.
There has always been a bit of a disconnect between Barry and his peers due to his super speed abilities. Not only does Barry move faster than anyone else, but Barry also views life in slow motion as he moves. It is inevitable that this would impact Barry’s view of the people around him causing a disconnect between him and those who cannot keep up with his pace of thinking and processing everything that is occurring around them.
Johns amplified this normal disconnect with Barry’s return to life. It is natural for a near-death experience to get a person to truly savor life more than they had before. Certainly being dead understandably made Barry feel that he should not waste his second chance at life. Combine that urge with Barry’s naturally heroic nature and desire to protect the innocent and you get the obsessed and detached man that he was when he returned to life in the beginning of Rebirth.
However, Johns effectively uses Thawne to bring Barry’s character back to his friends and family. Thawne is Barry’s foil in every possible manner. Thawne’s negative and detached view of life allows Barry to reconnect with his own humanity. By doing so, Johns makes Barry’s character back to his roots and returns him to form as a more positive hero.
I am glad that Johns went in this direction rather than making Barry a brooding and darker character that wallows in self-doubt. I was concerned at the beginning of Rebirth that Johns felt that he needed to make Barry “modern.” That usually is code for a mopey character that is “edgy” and humorless. Instead, Johns returns Barry to his proper heroic form with the added benefit of realizing how wonderful it is that he has received a second chance on life.
The scene with Barry and Iris was touching and sweet. Johns gives the reader a look at a type of relationship that is not often found in comic books. Barry and Iris are a classic 1950’s styled married couple. I dig that Johns did not mess with the timeless feel of Barry and Iris’ relationship. This old school relationship makes them unique within the DCU.
Johns offers the reader a warm ending with Barry and Iris sharing a tender moment and then Barry arriving at his welcome back party at the Hall of Justice. Flash: Rebirth certainly had a message to the reader. That life is short and that it is important to focus on the people that you love and to cherish every moment you have to spend with them. That worrying about tomorrow is pointless and fruitless as it only serves to take your attention away from what is important: The present and the loved ones around you.
I liked that Rebirth had a moral to the story. It works with Barry’s character and Johns is just the writer to deliver this type of slightly schmaltzy, but still enjoyable story. The parade scene in Central City was a heartwarming moment for Flash fans. It was great to see the Flash Family back and better than ever. I have to admit that the ending to Flash: Rebirth #6 put a huge smile on my face. Seeing Oliver Queen, Hal Jordan, Ray Palmer and Barry Allen all in JLA’s headquarters together again just felt right. It felt like home.
Of course, Johns gave some love Wally and Bart in this issue as well. Johns has Wally come to Barry’s aid in the opening scene and literally give Barry a helping hand to keep him on his two feet and running after Thawne. This was a nice moment to underscore that Wally is still relevant and that even Barry needs the help of the Flash Family members in order to deal with the villainous threats that lie before them.
Johns also makes a point of showing the reader that Wally perfected the art of travelling through time without a Cosmic Treadmill which was something that Barry never accomplished.
Johns also gives the honor of putting the final wrap on Thawne to Bart. Kid-Flash gets to tie up Thawne before he can access the Negative Speed Force. I loved the shot of Bart, with a big smile on his face, standing triumphantly over Thawne.
It is certainly odd to see someone calling Barry “Grandpa” considering how young Barry is and that he does not even have any children of his own at this point. This was a nice moment between Barry and Bart who have yet to really get to know each other. I look forward to Johns fleshing out this relationship between Grandfather and Grandson.
I liked the manner in which the Flash Family was able to capture Thawne. This played nicely into the theme of personal lightning rods that ground the various members of the Flash Family. That while each Flash Family member had one person to act as their lightning rod to keep them grounded, Thawne had none. Using the device to serve as Thawne’s lightning rod was an appropriate method to capture him.
The most interesting aspect of Flash: Rebirth #6 was not the part of this issue that dealt with wrapping up the events of Rebirth itself. It was the final seven pages that deliver some excellent plot teasers concerning the upcoming Flash monthly.
Johns is the master of plotting and is always looking years down the road when dealing with any story. Flash: Rebirth #6 was no exception. Johns hints at a numerous amount of plotlines and all of them piqued my interest.
Johns teases the reader with an ominous statement from Thawne that when Wally’s children grow up that one of them will destroy Wally’s life. It is important to note that in the two page splash shot of the parade for the Flash Family that all the members of the Flash Family were smiling and waving to the crowd. Except one: Jai. Instead, Jai was ignoring everything and playing his Nintendo DSi.
Now, I think that this is a bit of misdirection by Johns. It would be too obvious to have Jai, who lacks speed powers, be the child who betrays Wally. I think that Johns might be setting up a swerve and eventually have Iris be the traitor.
Johns introduces a plotline involving Gorilla City. The reader discovers that Reverse Flash has done something terrible and unnatural to the gorilla’s jungle. I am curious to see where Johns goes with this plotline. I always enjoy Flash’s adventures in Gorilla City. Therefore, I am glad that Johns will be dealing with Gorilla City on the new Flash title. It just isn’t a Flash comic without giant talking gorillas.
Johns wastes no time in lining up plenty of Barry’s Rogues for him to deal with in the new Flash title. Johns unveils four different plotlines dealing with various Flash Rogues. We get the plot teaser concerning Thawne and Zolomon scheming together. This seemed like an inevitable partnership.
I will be interested to see if the old school and new school Reverse Flashes are able to help each other get their powers back. To be sure, Reverse Flash and Zoom teamed up with each other would present a daunting threat to the Flash Family. I am definitely looking forward to seeing where Johns takes this plotline.
Johns also teases the reader with the fact that Dr. Alchemy has escaped Iron Heights. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Dr. Alchemy. The first Flash comic I ever read featured Dr. Alchemy battling the Flash. Dr. Alchemy is a classic John Broome and Carmine Infantino Flash villain.
Johns also weaves Abra Kadabra back into the story with a quick appearance. This is another classic Broome and Infantino Flash villain. I certainly look forward to seeing Barry having to deal with both Dr. Alchemy and Abra Kadabra at some point in the new Flash title.
We also got the plotline involving the Rogues arming up to deal with the return of Barry Allen. What I found interesting was that Captain Cold said that they would be using a contingency plan that Scudder came up with in order to deal with the return of Barry Allen. Sam Scudder was the original Mirror Master. Like Barry Allen, Scudder died during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Cold’s mentioning of a plan from Scudder was a plot wrinkle that immediately got my attention. It should be interesting to see what Johns has in store for us with this plotline.
Ethan Van Sciver serves up another pretty issue. Van Sciver certainly creates a dynamic looking Flash. The amount of detail that Van Sciver can pack into one panel is just incredible. Despite all the various problems with Flash: Rebirth, I certainly have not had any complaints at all with the wonderful artwork that we have gotten in each and every issue.
The Bad: Flash: Rebirth #6 presents the same defects that have plagued this title since the very beginning. Flash: Rebirth #6 was ridiculously decompressed. Johns burns seven pages with Barry and Wally running after Thawne and then another six pages of Barry pushing Thawne to the trap and capturing Thawne. This made for a read that was simply too slow.
Flash: Rebirth #6 was also a rather thin read. The half of this issue that actually dealt with the events of Rebirth itself lacked much depth or substance. Now that this series is complete, it is transparently obvious that Flash: Rebirth should have never been more than four issues long. By stretching this already thin story out over six issues, Johns actually ended up running out of story by this sixth and final issue.
I already mentioned in “The Good” portion of this review that I found Flash: Rebirth #6 to be a rather anti-climactic and muted end. Johns conveniently wrapped up Rebirth in a manner that gave the reader the feeling that Johns viewed this story as a necessary evil to get to what he really was interested in: The new Flash monthly title.
Rebirth is concluded a little over the halfway point of this issue. The remainder of Flash: Rebirth #6 is merely a series of teaser pages for the new Flash title. Almost half of this issue read like a preview for the new Flash monthly title that you would find inserted in the back of a DC monthly title for free.
Overall: Flash: Rebirth #6 was consistent with what we have been given on this title since the first issue. I am just glad that this story is over so we can move onto the new Flash monthly title. Despite all the problems with Flash: Rebirth, I still remain extremely confident that Johns is going to crank out a quality read with the new Flash monthly titles. If you skipped Flash: Rebirth, or dropped it, and are planning on getting the new Flash title then I recommend you pick up Flash: Rebirth #6 for all the preview pages. This issue serves as a nice little appetizer to the new Flash monthly.