Review by Chris Clow
The return of Barry Allen continues in parts 2 and 3 of The Flash: Rebirth. To get you up to speed, at the end of #1 Barry finds out that his touch has the ability to kill speedsters in the DC Universe. Using this knowledge and trying to find out how he could cause such things, he and Wally West go to Fallville, Iowa where they find the corpse of the Speed Force's apparition of death: the Black Flash. Upon this discovery, another manic speedster, the Lady Flash, arrives on the scene attempting to kill Allen, but when she touches him, it creates a surge so powerful that in addition to killing the Lady, it reveals why Allen is able to kill with his touch: he is the NEW Black Flash.
When the JLA and the JSA arrive on the scene in Iowa, they contain Barry. He warns Wally and the rest of them to stay away from him, fearing he could harm them. All the while, lightning strikes all around Barry, attempting to strike him. The combined efforts of the League and the Society decide it's best if Barry be moved, but instead Barry is released from his containment and says that in order to save everyone from himself, he will run back into the Speed Force to end his life on Earth once again. Superman takes off after him attempting to stop him, but Barry easily outraces the Man of Steel. When Barry is finally flung into the Speed Force, he sees his friends Johnny Quick and Max Mercury. After accidentally killing Johnny when touching him, he explains to Max that he's the new Black Flash. "It's not you!" Max says. "It's Professor--" BOOM! Suddenly they are pulled into another pocket of the Speed Force, where a man simply says, "Isn't it obvious what I've done to you, Barry? I've shifted you into reverse." It is revealed to be Eobard Thawne, the original Reverse Flash known as Professor Zoom.
Whew! Mouthful. If you're not a Flash fan, there are plenty of things to keep this book interesting. From the characters, to the locales, to the awesome speed effects from the mind of Ethan Van Sciver, this book looks great and reads like an action/adventure epic. BUT, if you ARE a Flash fan, it's even BETTER. Not only do we see some old beloved speedster characters in Quick and Mercury, one of DC's all-time greatest rivalries in Barry Allen vs. Eobard Thawne is brutally reignited leading into the next issue. Flash vs. Zoom is up there with the best of the DC Hero/Villain rivalries like Superman vs. Luthor, Green Lantern vs. Sinestro (also reignited by Johns and Van Sciver), and Batman vs. Joker. The conflicts and the stakes can only go up from here, and I thought we'd already reached the ceiling.
Johns continues his quest to make Barry Allen relevant by bringing the character's own belief of irrelevance into the forefront. Kid Flash Bart Allen makes an appearance in #3, and Barry, through inner monologue, thinks that if ever there was proof that his time was passed, it was in his grandson that stood right before him. How will this self-deprecating belief of Barry's change? Will it change? Will the arrival of Professor Zoom have the same impact on Flash that the reappearance of Sinestro had in Green Lantern: Rebirth?
Time will tell, but if you're not following this series, do it. Flash Fact: Rebirth kicks ass.