When I was about 10 years old DC Comics decided to have a major game-changing event called Crisis on Infinite Earths. You’ve heard of it so I don’t have to say much more on the topic. Of the many causalities of the Crisis, arguably the most impactful was the death of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash. He sacrificed himself to save the Multiverse and defeated the Anti-Monitor.
Why is this important? For one the Flash, specifically Barry Allen, is one of my favorite heroes. To see one of your favorite heroes give all of himself to save his friends and family was inspirational. To see one of your favorite heroes killed off at age 10… traumatic. When you are that awkward kid that likes to run and is more comfortable nose buried in a book, it is hard to find a superhero with whom you can actually identify. For me the Flash was it, so killing Barry Allen off… traumatic.
The other important Flash Fact, Barry Allen ushered in the Silver Age of comics. Rather than bring back the same Golden Age heroes, DC Comics reimagined the heroes as new characters for the modern age. The Flash was the first revival of this group in the comic book Showcase #4 in October 1956. If you don’t get it yet, Barry Allen is an important hero in the history of DC Comics. Police forensic scientist by day and superhero by night, is there a better role model for the heroes of the DCU?
All of this pomp and circumstance was laid upon Barry Allen for good reason, and it made his death all the more important. After 23 years of being dead, or at least merged with the Speed Force, Geoff Johns (the king of the character Rebirths) and Ethan Van Sciver (DC’s best artist) were the only choice to tackle this return. Not only were they the only choice, they knocked it out of the park!
Should you run to your local bookstore, comic book shop or keyboard to access your favorite online retailer to purchase The Flash: Rebirth Trade Paperback? Yes. Why is it so important to get this book? After 23 years missing from the DCU it was time for Barry Allen to come back. The other heroes need him, as storytelling and characters continue to grow darker the DCU needs one of Barry’s greatest powers to endure. No, not super speed. They need to learn control and restraint.
Think about control and restraint for a second… ok time’s up. It is important for someone with super speed to have the utmost control when running at high velocity. A speedster doesn’t want to run into or through someone when running down a baddie. They also don’t want to cause some sort of a weather event by changing the environment around them. Think of characters like Damien Wayne (Robin); he benefits from control and restraint, not because of super powers, but because he is a psychopath brought up by the League of Assassins before being taken under Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne’s collective wings.
These traits more than any other are what heroes, and regular people need today. Geoff Johns captures this theme throughout the story. Just because Barry Allen can do whatever it takes to solve a crime in the lab doesn’t mean he will.
This collection of the return of the Silver Age Flash in trade paperback is well worth the $15 dollar price tag. The forward is written by Fox TV development executive Matt Cherniss, which I highly recommend reading before jumping into the main story. The trade also features all of Ethan Van Sciver’s awesome covers for this six issue miniseries. Speaking of Van Sciver’s artwork, there is a panel around the middle of the book where the look of sheer terror on the face of Wally West is heartbreaking, real and amazing (just like all of his work in the DCU).
I’ve already said you should pick up this story, and if you read it quick it will hopefully get you as pumped up as I am for Flashpoint starting this month. When reading this story remember, one of the Earth’s greatest heroes has returned when he is needed most and the DCU is a once again a brighter place.