Flash: Rebirth is closing in on its conclusion. Mysteries are revealed, heroes battle villains — well, a villain anyway — and change is in the wind for more than one speedster. The sense of urgency that started building in issue #4 is present in full force here, as Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver build the story to one last cliffhanger before the end.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Wally West’s new costume debuts in this issue. If you’ve read it already, or don’t mind being spoiled — or want to be spoiled — you can read my comments and see a scan in my previous post. The change itself is a little forced, but works well enough — and, interestingly enough, isn’t played up at all by the characters themselves.
So: Barry Allen solves his cold case, Jay Garrick demonstrates that super-speed is more than just running, the West Twins reach a turning point, Liberty Belle makes an impression, and Professor Zoom proves himself petty and vindictive as well as vicious.
A lot happens in this issue, but I can’t help but feel that it ultimately doesn’t matter. The plot of Flash: Rebirth is secondary to the book’s real purpose:
- Rearranging characters to put them in the roles that DC wants for 2010.
- Restructuring the Flash mythology.
Along the way, it does a lot of what one of my friends in Star Wars fandom calls “spackling:” patching over rough spots or outright holes in continuity. Last issue we got an explanation of why Barry never learned about the Speed Force in the form of a completely new interpretation of how it works. This issue we get an explanation for why Barry’s flashback has his parents in Central City instead of Fallville. We get yet another layer on why Jay and Joan Garrick look 50 instead of 90, and a new explanation for why Jai and Iris/Irey West don’t have super-speed. We even get an explanation for “hot Iris.”
In that way, Flash: Rebirth is a lot like World War III, which existed solely to explain what had changed between Infinite Crisis and the “One Year Later” books. That this miniseries is the best Flash story since 2005 has less to do with it being a good story than it does with the fact that the comics from 2006 through 2008 were incredibly haphazard.
Well, I’ve reached the point where I can’t say anything more without giving anything away, so if you don’t want any spoilers, stop reading now! Continue reading