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The Answer to the Equation

January 15, 2010

     Continuing Geoff Johns’ ambitious retooling of the Flash franchise, the Flash: Rebirth goes on from Professor Zoom’s murder of Johnny Quick.  He tortures Barry Allen and Max Mercury, talking about his upcoming resurrection and how he generates the Negative Speed Force and used it to turn Barry into the Black Flash.  Wally West runs into the Speed Force to rescue Barry, Thawne travels to the West household to attack Iris and Jai West.  Max reveals that Barry himself created the Speed Force, and Jay Garrick and Kid Flash rescue the twins.  Thawne harangues Bart, telling him that he is half-Thawne and has been polluted.  Just then, Wally helps Barry and Max escape the Speed Force, and Liberty Belle solves her father’s speed equation: Jesse Quick, Max Mercury, Jay Garrick, Wally West, Bart Allen, and Barry Allen equal the Speed Force.  Iris and Jai are being poisoned by the Negative Speed Force, and Linda Park-West can’t do anything about it.  However, Iris absorbs Jai’s pain, and Jesse comes to help her.  Everyone else fights off Thawne, when Jesse and Iris arrive, Wally helps everyone regenerate their uniforms.  Jesse gets a new version of her father’s costume, Iris becomes the new Impulse, and Wally gets a new, darker version of his old costume.  Thawne then reveals that a lot of the bad things that happened to Barry when he was a kid was Thawne messing with the tiemline, including the murder of his mother.  Then, as a final piece of revenge, Thawne travels back to kill Iris West-Allen, Barry’s wife.

     A lot of people are complaining that this book just isn’t as exciting as Johns’ Green Lantern: Rebirth, partially because he doesn’t seem to have as good a grasp on Flash as he did on Green Lantern, and partially because Ethan van Sciver’s art in this book seems so much more static and lifeless (odd for a book about people running).  I’d say all those complaints are very true and valid.  Nonetheless, Johns is breathing life into a franchise that has suffered since Infinite Crisis and into a character I thought 1) should have stayed dead and 2) doesn’t really relate to modern audiences aside from his great sacrifice.  And doing a massive retcon in his past (his mother’s death) with an actual, in-story explanation is pretty cool too.  It’s a much better way of doing a retcon (at least, when handled right).  I’m not too hot on Wally’s new costume, nor do I like Jesse’s new, skimpier outfit.  But I like the ideas, and I’m excited to see Iris as the new Impulse.  And Ethan van Sciver’s lifelessness is a lot better in these issues too, with all the action and the big fights.  I’m actually interested in the Flash franchise for the first time ever, and it’s thanks to Johns.  I don’t think he’s doing anything to truly anger Flash fans, but admittedly, this is not his best work.  Still, I’m excited to see how this storyline is going to end, and what the implications are for the Flash family.

Plot: 9.0      Art: 8.8      Dialogue: 9.3      Overall: 9.0

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