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Flash: Rebirth #4 Review

4 min read

The new truth behind the Speed Force is revealed?

What They Say:
Barry Allen left a legacy that thrived after his death. Now his return threatens it all. What secrets does Barry hold inside him about the fate of the Flash Family? What destiny awaits Wally and his twins? What murderous force targets Bart Allen? And what does it truly mean to be a speedster?

The Review:
If there’s something to be said for Barry Allen, he’s always willing to put himself out there to take the damage, even if it will kill him, in order to save others. The big moment in his comic book life always goes back to the Crisis on Infinite Earths issue where he died and rightly so. With Flash: Rebirth, Geoff Johns has to walk a very different line compared to what he did in restoring Hal Jordan back to prominence. Hal’s rehabilitation worked because the character hadn’t been gone for over two decades. That space of time is a plus for Barry Allen though because there has been a significant span of time since we truly last saw him and DC Comics really did good to keep him out of the game for as long as they did. Few characters really get this amount of time away, enough so that the one who inherited the mantle became the real Flash for many people, myself included.

With the Reverse Flash being revealed as the one that’s behind events now that Barry has run backwards in time, he’s ready to gloat. And it’s an interesting and somewhat controversial gloating as it retcons a number of things related to the Speed Force itself. Thawne’s history lesson for Barry goes over a lot of what we’ve seen, including the push into reality that he made in order to save Bart once, in order to show the way he’s been a part of this force for all this time. Where the problem comes in is that he reveals that when Barry became the Flash, that incident was the creation point for the Speed Force and it’s been tied to Barry ever since. So when he died back in Crisis on Infinite Earths, he didn’t really die but became one with the Speed Force itself. Which, to many, nullifies his sacrifice. I don’t come to that position myself because Barry (and obvious Crisis writer Marv Wolfman) never had that in mind or realized it at the time.

That said, I don’t care for this new origin of the Speed Force. I’ve been out of touch on Flash books for quite a few years, so I don’t know if this undermines anything that had come out about it under the Wally West era, but there is the key idea thrown about here that Barry himself never really researched it himself when he was alive since he just accepted it and literally ran with it. With Thawne now believing that he has Barry where he wants him, he heads off to torment and plot against those close to him since he expected Barry to go to them first and that leads us to some fun scenes with the other speedsters out there. I particularly liked that they managed to work Max Mercury into things again as I’ve always liked him since he was instrumental in working with both Wally and Bart over the years. The thing that has me the most curious though is the interactions Jesse Quick is having with the Speed Force as she can’t stop speaking the formula her father used and is close to coming to a fundamental truth about it.

Digital Notes:
This Comixology edition of Flash: Rebirth contains both the regular cover and the variant cover by Evan Van Sciver. Having the variant available in digital form doesn’t change the value of the actual physican variant, so the practice of including both is definitely that is very fan friendly and gives the digital editions just that little bit more value for appreciating the artwork.

In Summary:
Flash: Rebirth continue to be a difficult read simply because it feels like it’s altering things in a way that it shouldn’t, taking certain longstanding elements of the DC Universe and reworking them in a way that doesn’t enhance and instead confuses. Tying Barry strongly to the Speed Force is one thing, making his origin double as the origin of the Speed Force itself doesn’t work well for me. It’s something that in all my years reading about Flash that I believed was one of those fundamental forces of the universe that he had been able to tap into by accident, as had others. With this new tweaking of things, and thus the connections to all speedsters who access it, it creates some potentially uncomfortable moments to be had. I’m still finding that I’m not enjoying this portrayal of Barry even though it does make a certain amount of sense considering what he’s been through. With the way Wally has been put through the wringer (I still don’t like his kids) and how Bart’s run as the Flash proper was so awful, the Flash franchise feels like it’s at its lowest ever, which makes me sad. This storyline isn’t helping it at all.

Grade: B-

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