Not even considering the fantastic stories that have followed it, DC Universe Rebirth #1 is an amazing gift to comic book fans on its own.
Between the Easter eggs, returns and emotional reunions, this book from Geoff Johns (and Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Matt Santorelli, Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Hi-Fi, Gabe Eltaeb and Nick J. Napolitano) was the absolute pinnacle of 2016 in my mind.
From Gary Frank's cover to the few opening pages, this book looks you in the eyes and grabs you in the soft and tingly parts right from the beginning.
In all, Rebirth is 80-pages of some of Johns' best work of his career by creating the ultimate comic book story and rebirth of an entire universe. He showed that you can make something all new by putting the characters first.
Launched back into the universe, is pre-New 52 Wally West. The Wally and Barry Allen emotional interactions make this one of the best Flash stories ever told. Grant said it best in his original review of the as close to perfect as you can get issue, that it felt like being reunited with an old friend when Wally comes back into the picture.
The way Johns had Wally talk about everything he lost and being forgotten by his closest friends, family and partners, resonates because it hits close home to readers too.
After Flashpoint, Wally got lost in the Speed Force and has been searching for someone, anyone to let him back into the world. Something changed reality a bit, and that's how it all takes shape. This means that the New 52 is the same continuity of the one form five years ago, but with things mixed up and a little different.
This hit home with fans on an emotional and logically level, as many felt that Wally West had been wronged with the messy solution to explaining the two Wally Wests. Johns put everything out there and in a way that even new comic book readers could jump in on and fell at home.
The way Johns crafts the character's dialogue is masterful, in that it almost feels like each character is saying exactly what fans have been thinking. We just haven't wasted time, we've lost friendships, relationships and a large piece of who we are, is the perceived consensus by the end of th issue.
He did it with a clear narrative, a strong narrator in pre-52 Wally and just some amazing character-centric work mixed with tasty Easter eggs. What's really exciting about those Easter eggs, is that a bunch of them haven't hatched.
Before getting into what happened after this Rebirth issue, I need to talk about one of the most emotional pages in recent memories.
This was such a "FINALLY" -- or as Grant would say a "FUCK YES" -- moment in comic history. When you have readers so invested in a story and you bring them on such a roller-coaster ride of these two long-lost friends almost figuring out that when it actually happens, it takes your breath away.
Hearing Wally describe his relationship with new Wally was an extra cherry on top, as was the goddamn Watchmen teases. This book belongs in everyone's possession, as it is a masterpiece that will be hard to top in the future.
What happened after this issue dropped was almost just as special.
Right off the bat there was this sense of familiarity, but with new tweaks here and there, and a complete re-commitment to the characters and what makes each of them unique.
Green Arrow and Canary coming back together with Benjamin Percy bringing this beloved couple back has been extremely special so far. Percy, Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferrerya have brought this character and couple back into relevance in the universe through humor, beautiful art and just an overall idea of what they see in this character.
Joshua Williamson has brought a level of expertise back into Barry Allen's Flash, that I often refer to him as DC's Tim Duncan. What he is doing with the Speed Force and showing us every side of Barry, as he balances his past, present and future, has been one hell of a ride.
Tom King has put his mark on Gotham, by bringing new and old characters into the mix during his run. He has overemphasized Batman's traits to make his Batman just come right off the page. We have seen an emotionally deep side to Bruce Wayne and Batman that we have not seen in a very long time. (Not to mention his Sheriff cohort Mitch Gerads will join him on Batman soon.)
Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr. have made Batman's "off-road-vehicle" of a series top-notch in the terms of growing the relationship between Batman and Duke, Bruce and Harvey and by taking us on insane adventures. All-Star Batman is a must-grab every time it hits shelves.
While these are just a couple of the amazing books out right now under the Rebirth tag, they highlight how special what the universe is doing. They are allowing these characters a chance to shine while respecting the readers. John Semper Jr. has rooted Cyborg in Detroit and created new important characters, Tom King has created new characters while bringing C-level villains back into the fold into new ways, and the same can be said for every series.
DC kicked Marvel's ass in terms of editorial in 2016, and they have one hell of a lead coming into 2017 and it all started with Geoff Johns back in May.