Wally West and Watchmen: A Review of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1
10 years ago, if you would have asked anyone in my immediate circle of friends who the biggest fan of DC COMICS would have been, I guarantee you everyone would have collectively pointed their fingers at me. I owned no less than 5 t-shirts emblazoned with Superman's "S-Shield" in various colors, bought 4 of almost every DC title, and christened my 2 children with names in honour of DC characters. I was there for every Crisis. I was there when Geoff Johns made Green Lantern a household name. My closet was stacked with unopened cases of DC DIRECT figures.
But the good times weren't meant to last.
A mini-series called "FLASHPOINT" turned my otherwise idyllic world into a nightmarish shadow of everything I knew and love, and by the time DC ended the series with the introduction of "The New 52", the Multiverse I had escaped to from the time I understood what it meant to be a comic collector wasn't there. So when DC hit the "ESC" key by destroying their universe, it also killed my love for DC Comics.
Granted, I did applaud DC for trying something brave AND bold by re-launching their entire line of legacy titles from scratch. It takes Han Solo-level guts from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK to pull what DC tried to pull. However, it became quickly apparent that there was something drastically missing from The New 52's core, and no one could pinpoint precisely what it was. There were mysterious gaps in time, plot holes you could drive a truck through, characters who were just plain unlikeable and fan-favorite characters who were just...gone. Where I once was buying nearly 20-30 DC comics a week, I found myself buying maybe once a month if that. For the next 3-4 years, I watched DC title after DC title fall to the wayside and for every "NEW 52" title that dropped from the lineup due to sluggish sales, I laughed a little inside. Oh sure, there were high points (such as an amazing high-profile run by Scott Snyder on BATMAN) but I don't think there's a lot of people that would call "The New 52" was a success...more like a failed experiment in sales and marketing.
Then DC announced a title called "CONVERGENCE", which promised a look back into the DCU with characters fans knew and loved before this New 52 nonsense. I bought Convergence #0 with shining teeth and a hopeful heart, yet suffered a disappointment not unlike my junior prom after reading it. For the next year, I would roll my eyes when I saw a comic shop in my travels sitting on hundreds of issues of CONVERGENCE crossovers in their back stock that didn't sell. Every day after CONVERGENCE was just another day to see how DC would disappoint me.
Then, I heard about REBIRTH: a 2-year long story that will once again shake the foundations of the DC UNIVERSE. I heard Geoff Johns was writing the one-shot. I heard it was 80-pages. I heard DC had a new logo meant to honor the past. I heard it was a $2.99 cover price comic with no ads.
Ok, DC. Tell me more...
So I felt good about my purchase of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 today from my local comic shop and came straight back to my office to read it.
I can think of only one fitting word other than REBIRTH and that's REDEMPTION.
Filled with reintroductions, surprises and shake-ups at every turn, the book focuses around the original Wally West aka Kid Flash pre-New 52...a character who had been missing for quite some time from the pages of DC COMICS, despite having been 'THE FLASH' for over 20 years in the comics prior to the NEW 52 and Barry Allen's return. Wally is trying desperately to warn the heroes of the New 52 DCU that there is a huge gap of time missing that has been altered by an evil force and because of this, things haven't been right since Barry Allen went back in time to save his mother in FLASHPOINT. There's mentions of the JUSTICE SOCIETY, THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, THE WATCHMEN (gasp) and more than enough to bring hope to any old school DC fan. The artwork is courtesy of all your favorites: Ethan Van Sciver (YAY!), Ivan Reis, Gary Frank and many others. After reading this book, you'll come to realize that THE NEW 52 DCU was a very dark place, and a reunion between Barry Allen and Wally West in this book will remind you that things are always blackest before the dawn.
I'm back on board with renewed optimism and instilled with hope that DC has learned an important lesson here: maybe old school isn't such a bad thing. Thank you, Geoff Johns. THANK YOU.
If you're an old school DC fan, I encourage you to pick up a copy of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 for yourself and prepare to welcome some old friends back into your life.