DC’s New 52, now that it’s at its end, can be seen for what it was. A failed cash grab to try and rope in an older audience, and move the characters in, what they thought was a darker, more appealing direction, while forgetting who they are. Some good titles did come out of it, the Batman line springs to mind including Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, and Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleeson’s Batman & Robin. However, the rest of the DC universe moved away from its strengths. Particularly characters such as Superman and the Blue Beetle. Overall, the New 52 did its job, brought in a new audience, mostly for Snyder’s Batman, but it also served another purpose. To show DC exactly what they should be. DC Rebirth not only acts as an introduction to the new titles, but as an acknowledgement from DC that there was a problem.
While the DC Rebirth one shot, could have been as simple as 20 pages giving seemingly clever allusions to plot points we already know. The one-shot instead gives us a wonderful look at the reshaping of the DC universe, through the eyes of an outsider, and a truly touching story of love. The story is narrated throughout by the pre-flashpoint Wally West, Kid Flash, as he tries to return to a world that has forgotten him. First to Batman, trying to bring up the events of Flashpoint, hoping to spark a memory of his existence, before being pulled away by the speed force as he fails. As Wally travels through this world, looking for his lighting rod, his tether to this world, we see the New 52 through his eyes. His comments feel more like an acknowledgement from Geoff Johns that it had problems, that it was missing what made these heroes iconic.
“I have so many questions. Left unanswered. The history I know continues to echo. Seeing everything. I realize it wasn’t ten years that was stolen from us. It was love.”
As Wally comments on the changes, we see little details starting to correct themselves. Friendships being reformed, events being set up. While Wally’s journey is essentially an excuse to show off all the heroes and give hints to their possible stories that lie ahead, it’s his commentary that makes it worth reading. Finally, Wally’s encounter with Barry Allen, The Flash, just as he is starting to fade away, is both emotional and triumphant. Watching Wally give up on being part of this new world, excepting the new Kid Flash, giving him his blessing, and thanking Barry for a wonderful like, is heart-breaking. The moment where Barry remembers him, only for a second, and pulls him through. Breaking down, franticly apologising for ever forgetting his dear friend and sidekick. The image of Flash and Kid Flash embracing is triumphant. At once emotional in context, and standing for everything DC needs to be again. Even for a none Flash reader, it’s a tender moment.
“Thank you for an amazing life. Thank you for your kindness. For your inspiration. For being there for me so many times. For now. The last time. You were right Barry. Every second was a gift. That’s why I won’t die in anguish. I’ll go with love in my heart. Good-bye Barry.”
The books epilogue has become a talking point more so than anything, the reveal of the Comedian’s iconic smiley face button buried in the wall of the Batcave. As well as the final page taking dialogue from the final book of Watchman. While it’s interesting to see, and certainly sets up future events that are sure to ‘shake up’ the universe at some point. However, they feel forced in, just to give fans something to salivate over, and to debate franticly, up until the time the point is revealed. Luckily, it takes nothing from the overall story, and acts simply as a quick set up.
Written by Geoff Johns and pencilled by Gary Frank. The DC Rebirth One-Shot is more than worth the read, even outside of a set up for the new line. Giving a complete story as well as hints for future events across the line. For those interested The DC Rebirth Deluxe Edition is certainly worth the money, with some wonderful extra pages. Worth it for any DC fan, or novice alike.