Comic Review: DC Universe Rebirth #1

“FUCK YES.”

It was weird for me to scream such a thing in an empty house with open windows, but once I’d reached the panel, I couldn’t help myself – as a long-time DC fan, this book kept throwing me treats, Easter eggs, and other assorted goodies with every turn of the page. Every other panel.

I was determined enough to avoid any and all spoilers for DC Universe Rebirth #1, and the lengths I went to do so made this all worthwhile, as every reveal, every surprise, echoed in my heart and mind. This book, Geoff Johns’ swan song from a comics-writing standpoint, hits all the right notes, and will leave you going right back to page 1 as soon as you finish.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS COMING UP IN TERMS OF CHARACTER REVEALS, BUT THE ENDING WILL REMAIN UNSAID.

 

 

 

 

 

The opening captions hint at the protagonist as he journeys through the echoed infinity of the Speed Force, and if you’re like me and grew up with HIM as the Flash, you’d know that voice anywhere: the reader is following the original Wally West as he tries to find an anchor back into reality.

It’s incredible how much it felt like I was seeing a long-lost friend: having Wally’s origins and adventures and even thoughts and feelings described so eloquently provided a feeling of comfort, and through the course of the book Wally describes a feeling that haunted me and a lot of other DC fanboys throughout the New 52: something just felt like it was missing. Not just time, but character traits, relationships, adventures.

It was also a very deft touch for the original Wally to explain his actual relationship to the new Wally, especially in light of Wally's family description from earlier in the book. This move will appease the fans who have never agreed with this new Wally (as varied and quite misguided as their rationales may be) and fans who were fresh to the character. The opportunities for the two are endless, especially in a world that has multiple speedsters aside from just the Flash. 

Over the next several pages we’re shown characters that have long been absent, and it felt so right to see them again, especially the way they were presented in the narrative. Hell, it was a BLAST trying to figure out who Wally was getting a glimpse of, and feeling like a damn genius when I guessed correctly: We got to see Johnny Thunder, and his connections to the original JSA; we saw Saturn Girl, from the Legion of Superheroes, a longtime friend of Superboy and Superman; the second Atom, Ryan Choi, makes a really fun return to the DCU (his time in the suit was all too brief, but a riot); and we saw Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetles… and my boy Doctor Fucking Fate shows up to talk to Ted, and not the current hoodie-wearing boy version. That was the panel I screamed for – I LOVE Dr Fate, and seeing him appear like he did in the late Steve Gerber series filled me up.

Wally’s quest brings him to so many corners of the DC Universe, and it covers so many questions and theories that have been present since Flashpoint. It’s a tremendous and visionary job by Johns to make this all fit; this is what Convergence should have been. Knowing that there are machinations outside of time and space to manipulate this reality to get it the way it is was a brilliant way to vindicate Barry and leave room for an incredible story.

There was room for heartbreak as well. Wally found the current version of Linda Park, a tether to bring him back, and her spurning of him physically hurt. Wally spent a good chunk of his narration speaking of love and connections, and when that last straw broke he accepted that he was as good as dead. His speech to Barry was just as emotionally destructive as Johns really made it seem like this was it: this was the farewell to Wally that we never got.

And yet.

Now there are things in motion that will lead to this incredible new direction at DC Comics. All the new creative teams, all the new storylines, every bit of Rebirth seems as though it will surpass the skepticism and low expectations. There will be room for old friends and new ones, rekindled love and hatred, and intra-company connections (like the last splash page before the Epilogue) that will blow our gotdammed minds.

The art, by a myriad of top-shelf talent, is beyond description. Every beat on every page is hit right on the head. Every aspect of every emotion is succinctly conveyed. This is a perfect game pitched by an assortment of relievers. This is an Oscar-winning film collaboration. They rekindled emotions and feelings in me that I haven’t experienced since I got back into comics in the early aughts.

I can’t thank DC enough for this book. Even if the next phase of Rebirth can’t live up to this story (and Lord knows it will be nearly impossible to), this is a present for readers. This is the acknowledgement that long-time fans needed, the validation we wanted for our years of zeal. It’s a book for fans, by fans, and so help me if this really is Geoff Johns last bit of comic writing, then by God did he hit a pitch-perfect note on the way out. Always leave them wanting more, and that’s exactly what he did.

 

This book gets gets 10 out of 10 shirtless howls of approval.

I can’t wait to see what comes next.