Review: The Flash #8 – “Reverse-Flash: Rebirth”

Comic-book futures are constantly changing. We’ve seen four* major versions of the Legion of Super-Heroes, many different “true” versions of the near future, and a half-dozen variations on the eras that brought us villains like Abra Kadabra and the Reverse-Flash. Given the latter’s newfound obsession with changing history in Flash: Rebirth, it seems highly appropriate that his origin tale rewrites itself repeatedly over the course of the issue. It’s fascinating to watch the twists and turns as his life starts down one path, then stops, backs up, and takes another.

Strangely enough, the creepiest history rewrite is the one in which he doesn’t actually kill anyone.

The story makes him into a truly scary threat, far beyond anyone else in the Flash’s stable of enemies, because he can (and does) literally defeat anyone he wants before actually fighting them. (Well, anyone except Barry Allen.) That makes him more interesting than the simple obsessive stalker he’s often portrayed as, but it also makes him incredibly overpowered. It also downplays his role as a speedster in favor of his role as a time traveler. Super-speed is really unnecessary for the power that makes him most dangerous.

Literary Thoughts

Two of the themes Geoff Johns has woven through this relaunch are very much present here: First, the speed of modern life, in which everyone is trying to do five things at once, is already exaggerated in present-day Central City, but taken to an extreme in the future shown here, where the worst thing anyone can do is waste your time. Today people keep in constant touch with each other and the internet with mobile phones and smartphones, but in the future, everyone constantly has a floating screen near his or her head. Some people, like Thawne, have several, showing how many ways their attention is split. Multitasking isn’t simply a feature on your computer. It’s a critical life skill.

Second: a character explicitly states the admonition against dwelling on the past and to move forward instead. The key symbol here is Barry’s inability to let go of his mother’s murder case, and the theme was excellently described by Bizarro98 on Comic Bloc. (The message is kind of undermined by the fact that the series has been focused on re-establishing old versions of various characters and dynamics at the expense of newer versions, though.)

Long-Term Reader Thoughts

It seems like the Thawne/Allen feud should have come into play in a story about Eobard Thawne studying the historical Barry Allen. Its absence, and the fact that the Flash legacy apparently stopped sometime before the 25th century, make me wonder if Chain Lightning is being removed from canon (though Thawne did refer to it briefly during Flash: Rebirth. On the other hand, the conclusion of the main section of the story connects very nicely with The Return of Barry Allen.

The Flash #8: “Reverse-Flash: Rebirth”
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Scott Kolins
Colors by Brian Buccellato

*I’m counting the Five-Years-Later Legion separately from the classic version, since I get the impression that the current series ignores the FYL run.

17 thoughts on “Review: The Flash #8 – “Reverse-Flash: Rebirth”

  1. Lia

    Yes, one wonders why Thawne hasn’t killed…well, pretty much anyone who’s annoyed him apart from Barry Allen. You’d think Wally would be a goner after the bitchslapping he gave Thawne in The Return of Barry Allen, or all the Rogues who gave him that insulting funeral, or Bart for turning his back on the Thawne legacy and against Eobard himself (though maybe he has plans for Bart).

    Johns may eventually explain why he’s left those people alone, but it could become an odd plot contention.

    Also, Speedforce.org and/or Tumblr hate each other now, because they’re refusing to link to find my blog posts. Oh well.

    Reply
    1. Hyperion

      (though maybe he has plans for Bart)

      OH GOD NO

      No, quite frankly I’m much happier if he considers Bart a lost cause – I enjoy the irony, and I want him to stay pure-hearted.

      Reply
      1. Lia

        I’m not endorsing the idea, it just seems like the kind of jerk thing Eobard would do. Unless he’s written off Bart as a lost cause, he might be interested in trying to bring him ‘back’ somehow.

        If he isn’t interested in retrieving Bart, you’d think he’d want to punish him.

        Reply
        1. Perplexio

          I think he’d be more interested in un-doing the death of Inertia/Kid Zoom at the hands of the Rogues as Thad was a more Thawne-oriented clone of Bart thus he would be a more “pure” alternative to Bart in Eobard’s eyes.

          Also given Owen Mercer’s pedigree I see him un-doing Boomerang’s death at some point. I think the Reverse Speed Force team will be Prof. Zoom, Zoom, Boomerang, Kid Zoom/Inertia, and possibly Captain Boomerang now that he’s pissed off the other rogues for helping Prof. Zoom escape.

          Reply
  2. Married Guy

    It was a very good issue, and one I enjoyed much more than any previous issues. But as mentioned, there are some glaring plotholes that need attention and with Zoom now corrupting the timeline, where’s Rip Hunter and Booster Gold???

    Reply
  3. Luke

    Good timing Kelson, as I just got this issue last night from my online mail order service.

    Anyway, yes, I thought this was a very strong issue as well. I really dug Johns’ motif of Thawne rewriting his own history as we went, and Kollins’ art was intensely good. His work was always great on Flash and this issue is no exception. I especially liked the first “rewrite” where everything went backwards for a few panels. And the creepy one you refer to was pretty messed up for a superhero comic.

    Regarding him being overpowered: I understand what you are getting at and see your point, but since he is back and free in the present I wonder how often that will come up now? I guess we will see soon enough.

    Reply
    1. Kelson Post author

      Funny how the timing works out. I wrote most of this last week, then just didn’t have time to add to or refine it & finally decided to post it as-is.

      Reply
      1. Luke

        Oh! One other thing regarding Professor Zoom being overpowered. Maybe all of this time travel and changing the past will have an adverse effect on him? Maybe all of this temporal screwing around will end up destabilizing his body or something like that?

        Reply
        1. Perplexio

          I don’t know about his body, but wouldn’t it really mess with his mind. When he changes the past wouldn’t that also affect his memory? Suddenly he’d have conflicting memories of his life before and after he’d made the change and in some cases multiple conflicting memories if he happened to change the same event multiple times in the past (like the one reporter he’d been in love with).

          Eventually all of this changing of the past has got to catch up with him and seriously mess with his head.

          I’m wondering if some of these retcons are going to be undone in Flashpoint. Perhaps Barry will figure out that while he can’t change the past he does have the power to go back in time and prevent Prof. Zoom from changing the past. It will be a matter of showing up in the past before Zoom makes his changes to prevent him from making those changes… A loophole, if you will.

          Reply
  4. liquidcross

    Loved this issue. Did you catch Kolins’ “tribute” to his own previous work at the end? The final shot of Professor Zoom looks just like the first appearance of Hunter Zolomon as Zoom II. I thought that was a nice touch.

    Reply
  5. Savitar

    I found the lack of the Thawne/Allen feud intriguing as well. Unless all the tampering Zoom has done in the past (or in his future) has somehow affected the feud (maybe even removing it from time altogether) Maybe Flashpoint will address this aspect.

    I hope not though. Chain Lightning remains one of my all-time fav arcs from Waid. (TPB would be nice DC! Hint, hint)

    Reply
    1. Ken O

      I think I would have enjoyed Chain Lightning more if Cobalt Blue wasn’t the lost, twin brother of Barry. I don’t know that Thrawne vs Allen needs to be a feud that lasts generations. I mean I don’t mind that some one each generation takes up the mantle of Cobalt Blue, but they all don’t have to be related.
      That made more sense in my head then it does written out.

      Reply

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