THE FLASH: REBIRTH
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ethan Van Sciver
Inker: Scott Hanna
The Flash franchise was in a weird place back in 2009. The beloved Wally West had just been brought back in the pages of Justice League with his two superpowered kids, Bart Allen, the fun-loving Kid Flash, had been aged up, became the flash, gotten killed, and returned in Geoff Johns Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds miniseries, and Jay Garrick was still kicking around in the background of the Justice Society of America. Regardless of having three beloved speedsters in your publishing line, DC didn’t seem like they knew what to do with their Flash franchise. The Flash’s book had been canceled months prior and The Flash had been relegated to a background character. Something had to be done, and that something was Barry Allen. Today, that name’s as popular as the likes of Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, and Peter Parker; But in 2009, one only the hardcore fans at DC Comics were familiar with. In April of 2009, fan-favorite Flash writer Geoff Johns decided to ride the lighting a second time as Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash that sacrificed himself to save the multiverse from the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, had returned back to life. But why?
The Flash: Rebirth is the story of a man out of time. Barry knows he was brought back for a reason, but that reason wasn’t exactly clear to him. Wally West had taken up the mantle of the Flash and surpassed the legacy of Barry Allen. Wally built up the Flash Family in Barry’s absence and everything was looking up for the speedsters. Barry realized that he’s not needed in this universe anymore. There was only one thing left for him to do, and that was to prove his father’s innocence and find his mother’s killer. This was the first step Johns took to flesh out Barry’s character, one that was previously very bland because of his silver-age roots. Before Barry is able to begin the mystery of his mother’s murder, he has to first figure out the mystery of his return. Why was Barry the only one able to escape the clutches of the speed force? Why is every speedster in the DCU experiencing speed-seizures upon Barry’s return? And most importantly, who brought Barry Allen back to life?
Over the course of the story, we find out that the man responsible for Barry Allen’s return is none other than, Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash. Thawne had been responsible for tainting the speed-force and poisoning anyone connected to it. The transcendental moment in the series is when we learn that Thawne was responsible for the murder of Barry’s mother. Thawne had gone back in time and killed Barry’s mom, framed his dad, and proceeded to be the cause of every bad thing to ever happen in Barry’s life; Just when we thought that was enough to send Barry off the deep end, Thawne reveals that he’s not done and he’s going to kill the one person who matters more than anyone to Barry, Iris Allen, his wife.
I could keep talking about what happened in the story or how great I believe it is, but I’d rather speak on the impact this story had on the DCU as a whole. Bringing Barry Allen back didn’t just breathe new life into the Flash franchise, it kickstarted it into overdrive. Immediately following the series, we got Flashpoint; the story that rebooted the entire DCU. The story serves as the foundation of the beloved CW series that got people around the world to fall in love with The Flash. Regardless of how you feel about what The Flash: Rebirth led to, you can’t deny the importance it has on modern-day DC Comics in bringing Flash to the forefront of the DCU, exactly where he should be.