Comic Review: DC Universe: Rebirth #1

  • Writer: Geoff Johns
  • Pencils: Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez
  • Inks: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis, Frank Prado
  • Colors: Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Hi-Fi, Gabe Eltaeb
  • Letters: Nick J Napolitano
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Release Date: May 25th, 2016

Rebirth has finally arrived on store shelves. At 80 pages and DC’s promised $2.99 price tag, Rebirth promises many things. It promises new hope in the comics, it promises the lost history of the New 52, it promises cataclysmic changes and amazing returns. And Rebirth also promises revelations that will be woven through the next couple of years of comics. Warning: spoilers from this point on.

Synopsis of Rebirth #1

The focus of this one shot is Wally West. Not the biracial teen that caused internet outrage, but the old school, red haired speedster beloved by generations of fans. After at all, it wouldn’t be a universe shaking event without a Flash to be a major part of it. Stuck in the Speed Force, Wally is attempting to reach out to various people, ranging from Batman, to an elderly man, to his uncle Barry, to try to fix the timeline. In this story, a decade has been robbed by a mysterious entity, not to mention legacy and optimism. As Wally speeds around the DC Universe, we are treated to the fallout from Justice League #50 along with Superman #52. Heroes will rise, some may fall, and others are brought back into continuity. Johns peppers his swan song (as this will be his final issue for quite some time) with homages to the Justice Society, the Legion of Super Heroes, numerous Crises, and his own Flashpoint. As the book comes to a close, there will be a moment that will make even the most jaded comic fan shed a tear of joy. As for this mysterious entity? A final homage to one of the greatest graphic novels of all time gives us a major clue. Are you ready for the reveal?

It’s Doctor Manhattan. As in Watchmen. I can almost hear Alan Moore screaming.

DC Universe Rebirth #1 coverOptimism Vs Cynicism

In many ways, the choice of villain is inspired. In interviews, Geoff Johns has openly criticized the lack of optimism and hope in the New 52 in recent weeks, saying “It doesn’t mean that every character is going to be optimistic or have the same attitude because that’d be boring. But it does mean that there’ll be a pervasive attitude in DC of belief — not only belief in yourself, but in what you’re doing — and celebration, a tone of celebration. It doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be threats, or that we’re going backwards or being regressive, but it does mean that the pervasive attitude in the DNA of DC is optimism. Which I firmly believe.”

This is in contrast to the more dour Watchmen, which along with The Dark Knight Returns marked the shift to a darker tone in comics that has pervaded the comics ever since. Given Doctor Manhattan’s cryptic final words to Ozymandias, words repeated in Rebirth, could the omnipotent being finally cracked and has used the DC Universe as his laboratory?

Diverse Stories, Diverse Characters

Numerous characters make reappearances here. Many of them are quite diverse and have not been seen in quite some time. Fan favorites such as Ted Kord, Ryan Choi, and Jackson Hyde make their returns to the DC Universe, as seeds are planted for various stories and sagas. After the Rebirth titles were announced, this critic was worried that diversity would be going away given the lack of stellar sales in the wake of last year’s DCYou initiative. But thankfully, diversity will remain in the books, if not the headliners.

All Star Art Team-Up

The art is excellent. Gary Frank takes the lead, but is joined by Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, and Phul Jimenez for the various chapters of the book. With four pencillers, you’d expect a clash of styles, but everything fits together so well that you wouldn’t know unless you know the minute differences of each artist’s style. Reis is joined by Joe and Frank Prado in inking the work, which helps make everything stand out, or create inky pools in shadow for Batman to investigate. Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Hi-Fi, and Gabe Eltaeb give the book tremendous energy (thanks to the Speed Force) with their color work. Everything pops, even when in muted shades or bright primary colors.

Lightning Strikes Twice

Rebirth is definitely a step in the right direction. And as Johns rides out into the sunset (as his numerous duties, including heading up the DC Films department, will leave him little time to write), he should look back and smile. After all, he brought hope back to the DC Universe. This is a must read for fans old and new.

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About the author

Daniel Kalban

Daniel is the writer of The Eagle webcomic and aspires to one day join his favorite writers at the Big 2. Until then, he keeps plugging away at various projects, as well as serving as a reporter for Word of the Nerd on various subjects, especially the DC Comics "beat".

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