This is the first of my new set of reviews that I call “Rebirth Recaps.” I plan to use these to read and review the books of DC Comics as they go through their current Rebirth initiative. This is my first time diving back into DC on the comics side since the early days of the New 52 era. I was not a huge fan of the New 52. Although there were some bright spots (Geoff John’s Justice League, Scott Snyder’s Batman and Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman), the New 52 felt like it shut me out as a person who loved the saga of the DC Universe and began it anew. Everything that I knew was gone. Characters I liked in the past weren’t the same and things just felt off. Rebirth was intriguing to me because it wasn’t a reboot like New 52. Those elements would remain in place, yet the feel of the classic DCU would return. The initiative would launch with an 80 page one-shot which was described by President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns as “re-laying the groundwork for DC’s future while celebrating the past and present. It’s not about throwing anything away. It’s quite the opposite.” Johns also wrote the one-shot and it was released May 25, 2016 with a price tag of $2.99. That was enough for me to jump back in. Now finances don’t allow me to read every book that comes out so I waited patiently for the trade paperbacks to be released. I also purchased the deluxe edition of the one-shot which will be the the first review.
I’ve been enjoying reading Rebirth titles and I want to take time to read these stories and share my thoughts about them. That was what inspired this new initiative from me. So we’re going to start with DC Universe Rebirth which was written by Geoff Johns with art by Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis and Phil Jimenez.
The deluxe edition opens with a nice introduction by the President of DC Entertainment Diane Nelson. In this she explains how they know of the reception to the New 52 and wanted to try to bring back the magic that people say was lost. Even though I wasn’t a fan of the last relaunch, I appreciate their willingness to try something new and their self-awareness that it may not have worked the way they wanted to. Some very kind and sincere words.
The one-shot is split into 4 chapters. They are Lost, Legacy, Love and Life. There is also an epilogue that sets up the larger mystery of Rebirth that will be developing over time. I will warn right not that I will be entering SPOILER TERRITORY from this point on.
Narration in our story is provided by Wally West, the first Kid Flash and third Flash. Wally has been lost and forgotten in the Speed Force due to the events of Flashpoint caused by his friend and mentor Barry Allen. Wally is trying to make a connection with someone he knows so that he’s not lost to the Speed Force forever. After his first attempt to make a connection with Batman fails, he’s sucked back in but also he reveals that in addition to the actions of Flashpoint, something or someone else is interfering and has stolen ten years of everyone’s life.
Wally attempts to plead to as many people as he knows, including the love of his life Linda Park. It all seems for nothing as no one can remember him. All hope seems lost as he resigns himself to his fate when he makes an appeal to Barry Allen to warn him of what has happened to all he heroes. Then, in what is a heartwarming scene, Barry remembers.
The story closes with quite a reveal. Hints were being dropped throughout but by story’s end we get confirmation that somehow the changes that have been made are the result of Doctor Manhattan from Alan Moore’s seminal comic Watchmen.
That concludes DC Universe Rebirth #1. So what did I think about this? I certainly enjoyed the one-shot. I felt it well written and the artwork throughout was fantastic. The main story of Wally trying to find an anchor really captured my attention from start to finish. I also enjoyed picking up on some threads that will be present in future stories. I was riveted as Wally seemed to be losing on his chance to return and could feel my own heart breaking as he prepared to accept his fate. Johns’ writing has always been fantastic for me and it remains so here.
My criticisms would be that this isn’t really accessible for new readers. There’s a lot going on that they may not be familiar with. The same goes for characters as there are some with ties to the New 52 that aren’t easily recognizable. Next is the big Watchmen connection. This isn’t so much a criticism as it is me keeping my expectations in check. I know it appears DC is blaming the classic book for many of its negative aspects over the last few years, however there is a larger mystery at play and I will wait to pass judgement. My hope is that Doctor Manhattan’s role is not that of an antagonist in the traditional sense. We shall see as more Rebirth trades are released and I catch up with those.
DC Rebirth gets off to a good start with this one-shot and I can’t wait to follow up with more reading as this initiative continues and the story unfolds.
Final Rating (4/5) DC Universe Rebirth offers a promising start to a new era for th DC Universe. The story is well written with great art. Doesn’t seem very accessible to new readers however and the big reveal and connection may turn some people off before even getting on. But I will patiently and excitedly wait and see where this goes.
Next Recap: Superman Vol. 1 – Son of Superman