Archive for Flash Rebirth

Blackest Night #1

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Black is the new Green.

Black is the new Green.

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inker: Oclair Albert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Artists: Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Alex Sinclair
Alternate Cover Artists: Ethan Van Sciver & Hi-Fi

If you had of told Dan DiDio four years ago that Green Lantern, under Geoff Johns’ guidance, would not only stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Batman and Superman in stature and following, but would also spawn the biggest comic book event of 2009, he probably would have slapped you twice and thrown you to the Crises.  Well, that was then, and this is now, and let me tell you, I was more than excited to be opening the first issue of Blackest Night proper.  In fact, I can’t remember ever being this excited for a comic book event in all my years of reading comics (which I’ll admit, is not very long at all compared to some).  Well, it turns out that all that anticipation is paying off in spades, and that Blackest Night is every bit the bee’s knees it promised to be.

Naturally, Blackest Night #1 picks up where Blackest Night #0 left off, in Gotham Cemetery.  It’s a dark and stormy night, and Black Hand ushers in the Age of Dark and Stormy Nights with a decidedly sick and twisted invocation.  The first thing I noticed about this issue was, damn, it’s great to have Ivan Reis back on a Green Lantern book.  Then of course I noticed the striking visuals, the epic presentation, et cetera, but honestly, there’s so much going on here that I really don’t know where to start.

This book is a great jumping-on point for newcomers, but they’ll also find a lot to digest here; while long-term Green Lantern and DC Comics readers have plenty of Easter eggs to scour through.  Sure, there’s a fair bit of background that the DC faithful will already know, but Johns is clearly highlighting which parts to pay attention to (and believe me, there’s a lot to pay attention to) and fleshing them out to augment the emotional impact of future events.  It’s actually surprising to see which untended plot threads he does highlight – without giving too much away – fans of Keith Giffen’s Justice League will no doubt be intrigued by the developments they see here.  It’s pretty clear by the end of this issue that Blackest Night represents his life’s work, drawing on every major DC storyline he’s had a hand in, from JSA to Hawkman to Infinite Crisis to 52 and everything in between right up to Flash: Rebirth.  Perhaps contrary to his original plans (though not by much), Blackest Night encompasses the entire DC Universe (or is it ‘Multiverse’?).  That is to say that its scope is far greater than just the Green Lantern universe – which is already massive thanks to Johns – and centres upon his two no-doubt-favourite heroes, Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Barry Allen (The Flash), as our anchors to this epic tale.

The core of this super-sized issue takes place appropriately on the anniversary of Superman’s death; once a national day of mourning, now a day used to honour fallen superheroes.  Geoff Johns has stated in interviews that this issue mentions all the major players in this storyline, and I believe it – many names are checked by the mourners, which may as well be a roll call for the Black Lantern Corps – some are expected, though many may surprise you.  In point of fact, the first Black Lanterns to reveal themselves surprised the hell out of me, and their first dark deeds shocked me all the more, due in no small part to Ivan Reis’ grisly depiction.

It’s getting very dark in the DC Universe, and I, for one, am loving it.

Flash: Rebirth #3

Posted in Comics, DC, Flash with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25th June, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Slow and steady wins the race.

Slow and steady wins the race.

“Rearview Mirrors”
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Brian Miller
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover Artist: Ethan Van Sciver & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover Colorist: Brian Miller

Flash: Rebirth #3 is an odd little duck.  While the cuts are quick and kinetic, the storytelling adopts a slow and steady approach.  It’s been mentioned by others before, but Van Sciver’s vertical panel-slicing does seem to contribute towards this feeling, for good or for ill (I for one would like to see more two-page spreads to open things up a little).  That and there just doesn’t seem to be all that much running.  The cover of this issue teases yet another race between the Flash and Superman, and while this particular race has an urgency the others can only dream of, it’s over so quickly that you wonder what all the fuss was about.  In truth, it was the most interesting plot-point they could reveal on the cover without spoiling a story full of surprises.

It’s really difficult to discuss this issue (or indeed last issue) without robbing it of its impact.  But I’ll put it this way: Barry Allen is back, and that’s not a good thing.  This issue maintains the cinematic feel of its predecessors, peeking around all corners of the speedsters’ lives.  Recent developments cause Barry to question his role as the Flash, and his place in the Speed Force, if he has a place at all.  Let’s just say that the Flash is about to face his Parallax in a race against time.

Comparisons to Green Lantern are apt, considering the reunion of Rebirth‘s creative team to bring us this series.  I have every confidence that the Flash’s rebirth will live up to that association.  Despite some assertions to the contrary, Van Sciver is on his A-game for this outing, and Johns is continually improving his craft beyond all expectations (how does you challenge yourself when you’re already the best?).  The Flash books have languished ever since Johns’ departure all those years ago, and yet, these first three issues are far and away superior to his life’s work on the character.  As you’d expect, themes of death and rebirth are explored at length (as they have been in the rest of the DC Universe these past few years), and three issues in, I can’t help but see this is leading into Blackest Night.  Morrison did this with Batman and Final Crisis last year, so it’s not outside the realms of possibility.

A seasoned Flash writer, Johns seems to have stumbled over a Flash formula (3X2(9YZ)4A!) he’s not used before.  Time travel has always been elementary to the Flashes, but Johns’ time-travel-as-flashback or vice versa is quite clever.  It’s also quite confusing, but I have faith that all will make sense in this written-for-the-trade effort.  And while you *could* feasibly wait for this six-part story to be collected in a single volume, that would deny these cliffhangers of their power, not to mention your own anticipation.  You’ve gotta hand it to Johns, he really knows how to end a chapter, and he always leaves me wanting more.  I’ve said this before, but Johns is probably DC’s biggest fan, and the fact that he knows this universe and these characters so much better than all of us puts him one step ahead – in control – at all times.  Lead on, I say!

The Flash: Rebirth #2

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Something's afoot in the Speed Force...

Something's afoot in the Speed Force...

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Cover Artists: Ethan Van Sciver, Carmine Infantino & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover Artists: Ethan Van Sciver & Alex Sinclair
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavaleri

Holy Shit.

The shock twist in this issue of Flash: Rebirth had me absolutely floored.  Sure, I considered the outside possibility of these events unfolding, and the hints were certainly there from issue 1, but damn if this doesn’t feel like a brave direction for The Flash.

It’s tempting to write this off as one of those ‘fan’ what if? moments – remembering Johns has had both Batman and a de-powered Superman flirt with Green Lanternism during his tenure with DC – but far too much has been done that can’t be undone for that to be the case.  Sorry for being so damn coy, but I really want you to experience what I experienced when I read it.  I’ll tell you this much: no, Barry Allen does not become a Green Lantern.  He doesn’t become a Black Lantern either, but with all of these themes of death and rebirth across the board, I can’t help but wonder whether Johns’ brainchildren will intersect.

In every corner of the Flashes’ world, from Gorilla City to the Balkan Mountains and back to Central City, Rebirth #2 really gave me the sensation that something big was brewing in the Speed Force, and indeed, the DC Universe.  I can’t help but sense Grant Morrison’s influence in all of this – the quick cuts, the bold moves, the cinematic style – all of these things lend the story a weight; a significance.

Sure, it’s a little continuity-intensive at times – the quick cuts and flashbacks may prove difficult for newcomers to keep up with – but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and if Geoff Johns proved one thing with Green Lantern’s own Rebirth, it’s this: there WILL be growing pains, but the outcome will be well worth it.  Those with rose-coloured lenses remember Green Lantern: Rebirth fondly (and rightly so), but they too easily forget the occasional awkwardness and intensive continuity inherent in the project.

It’s necessary.

Take heart, fans, Geoff Johns is THE continuity doctor: leave a mess on the carpet, and he’ll turn it into art, like Pro Hart.

Speaking of art, Ethan Van Sciver’s is brilliant as always.  He’s far and away, one of the best artists in the biz.  His panel layouts and spectacular splash pages contribute a great deal to the book’s cinematic feel.  His linework is clean and detailed.  His characters are expressive; his backgrounds are meticulous and never boring to look at.  Check out the water effects on page 6 – the detail is just mind-boggling.  Oh yeah, and Iris is HOT.

The track record’s there: Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver are a great comic partnership, and if this issue is any indication, they’re cooking up another storm of Rebirth proportions.