The truth of Barry’s past is made all too clear as the Reverse Flash spends his time gloating like a good villain.
What They Say:
The greatest threat to face the Flash Family in decades stands revealed! A new hero will step into an old speedster’s boots! And Barry Allen will make the ultimate sacrifice: his life! Oh yeah, you read that right, but you’ll never believe just what it means! They always say nothing will ever be the same, but trust us, this one will rewrite the history books
With a cover that feels like a slightly updated version of something from a time long gone, the fifth issue of Flash: Rebirth exposes a bit more of what’s really going on here as the Reverse Flash makes his play against the speedster family. Thawne is keeping to what many villains do, and fans both seem to expect and groan about, in that he explains his plan away and gloats constantly about it even as it seems like he’s losing because his real plan is about to be executed. Thawne has wanted to put all the speedster’s through the mill here and he’s done a good job of that with the way they’re all suffering reactions because of their ties to the speed force with Wally’s kids in particular really taking it hard. While they deal with it though, everyone else has worked through it to give Barry the hand he needs in trying to keep Thawne off balance so he can’t gain any traction. Still, they can’t exactly stop him at this point either.
A lot of the book run between two main storylines that eventually do tie again. The present day focus involves a whole lot of running around and angry threats as Thawne toys with them while seemingly taking a beating. The other storyline that’s intriguing is seeing the updated Barry Allen background as he talks about how he’s always felt out of place as a child and adult in both his personal and professional life but just coped with it. The way Johns ties this to his becoming the Flash works rather well, but it still feels like it’s an angle to his personality that wasn’t there for decades and didn’t really need to be. He always felt grounded and a part of things and there wasn’t a huge focus on his past overall because he was always looking forward for the most part. But these little nods to the past do flesh him out a bit more in an attempt to make him easier to connect with.
With Thawne’s true plan revealed at the end in order to give us a reason to come back for the finale, I really wanted to see what it was about this issue that stood out for me. The action is decent and I like seeing all the speedster’s here, but it’s the comment made by Liberty Belle that really makes things stand out when she says there’s a definite lack of girl power in the Flash family. The women have typically been kept to the side and real female speedster’s are few and far between, so seeing her bring about the introduction of a new Impulse, a character that I originally hated when Bart first appeared, makes a certain amount of sense. The Flash family is certainly very generational and making things more obvious here works well. Well, except for the way Irey says “hey” to Bart as that was just a bit unnecessary, especially with how screwed up Bart has been for his age over the course of his history.
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 physical 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.
Flash: Rebirth still confounds me with the why of it all. I know there’s a lot of love for Barry Allen from a number of creators and fans out there, but it’s been so long that bringing him back now still doesn’t feel necessary. If anything, Wally still feels like he’s the one that needs the rebirth as his character has become so saddled with things over the years that it’s weighing him down and he’s lost what made him interesting. Nothing here is making Barry himself more interesting as he still feels like the guy who is out of place and just running so as to not make the connections he needs to in order to be a part of everyone’s lives. Thawne himself is in classic mode because he wants to rub Barry’s nose in it instead of just doing the deed, which is unfortunately a weak part of the book in general because it feels like a cheat that I had hoped Johns would rise above. Thawne has the potential to change everything and has shown how he has, yet he doesn’t go all the way because of ego. It makes sense, but still, let’s live a little and go big sometimes.