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The Flash: Rebirth #6 [Review]

Fastest Man Alive

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ethan Van Sciver
Inkers: Ethan Van Sciver & Scott Hanna
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Colored by: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Cover by: Ethan Van Sciver
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Published by: DC Comics

This mini started out billed as a 5-issue series. Then it got expanded to 6 issues. This sixth/final issue comes basically 10 months after #1 shipped. Frankly, the issue–while something I’d like to…well, like…seems to be something that ought to have been wrapped up long before now.

Story-wise, we open on Barry and Wally chasing Zoom through time–the latter has vowed to kill Iris, the former are trying to stop him. Of course, the duo catch the villain and ensure he won’t threaten anyone ever again (well, for the rest of THIS issue, at least…it’s a comic. He’s gonna come back!). Then they return home where there’s a parade for Barry…I believe the one he was nervous about way back in issue #1. And what would a re-insertion of a classic character into contemporary continuity be without the “validation” of the Justice League affirming the return and his place with them?

The art for this issue–while good–lacks a certain sense of greatness, and isn’t nearly as appealing as I’d’ve hoped. Perhaps the lateness of the issue would suggest time was taken to really make it pop, or something. Even on a couple of the huge full-page/double-spread shots, I’m not entirely clear what’s being shown, though they make a little more sense when I take time to go back and “study” them, looking for what they COULD be, beyond what simply looking at them AS I read the story gives me. There’s one that I’m not sure if it’s being suggested that this chase through time IS the lightning that gave Barry his powers in the first place (which would seem to be a time paradox), or if they’re just viewing it, or if it’s just there to fill out the page and clue us in that they’ve reached the earliest time OF Barry’s time as The Flash.

The story itself mostly ties up the broadest of loose ends, but already sets the stage for not only the return of Zoom to active status, but also someone called “Doctor Alchemy,” who I presume is some largely un-used silver-age Flash villain that’s gonna be raised up to show us how awesome he can be, much as was done with Black Hand in Green Lantern (though I’m not expecting lightning to strike twice, in this case). Johns seems to have a definite love for the character, which I applaud…but this series in itself has done far too little to “sell” me on Barry as the primary Flash character (seems if anything, it’s been Johns using Barry to such good effect with Hal in Green Lantern and the core Blackest Night book that’s sold me at all on the merit of having Barry around.

Obviously, if you’ve already bought the first five issues, this issue’s one that you might as well consider picking up for the sake of completing the series. It’s in no way a selling point in itself though for the series, and based on this issue alone I’d suggest ignoring it. The collected volume will probably read much better, with the wait between issues stretching a mere turning of a page or two rather than months, and the whole of the story will be fresher in one’s head and thus probably feel more coherent.

As a whole, this issue’s quite a disappointment, a lukewarm ending to what should’ve been a hot series.

Story: 4/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 5.5/10

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The Rest of the Stack: Two Weeks of Other Books I’ve Read

Due to hitting the busy season at work, I basically took a week off from reviewing. With the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve had a chance to catch up a bit. As usual, these are mini/”capsule” reviews of books I picked up but am not writing out a full review for. This post is double-sized due to covering TWO weeks’ worth of books.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1
This issue’s a real treat. For the same price as a black-and-white issue of Tales of the TMNT, the issue is full-color. Best of all, it’s the classic #1 issue, now in color for the first time as a comic. (It’s been colorized at least once before, in the First graphic novel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Book I). The coloring looks quite natural, and it would have been awesome to see the original series re-issued in color…or at least, the first ten issues, the one-shots for each turtle, and Return to New York. For that matter, City at War as well. As-is, at the very least, this is a nice version of #1 to add to one’s collection without breaking the bank. Highly recommended for any TMNT fan, or anyone curious as to how the turtles’ story got started.

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #5
This issue continues the story of Deadpool, Zombie-head Deadpool and Dr. Betty facing Hydra agents trying to kill them to get the head themselves. A bit of cheesecake art to the issue, but that can be overlooked for an excellent scene in which Deadpool and Bill (not Bob–he insists he’s Bill, though Deadpool can’t seem to really tell the difference from his old buddy) have an exchange over the Star Wars series of movies. Suffice to say that reading this, one knows exactly where Deadpool stands regarding the trilogies. Overall another fun issue. I’m pretty sure the story wraps with issue 6, so at this point if you aren’t already following the book or able to get the first few issues, you’re probably just as well to wait for a collected edition. The story so far definitely seems well worthwhile for Deadpool fans, whichever way the story’s read.

Supergirl #47
This issue provides a good deal of backstory to Alura, and her courtship by Zor-El. We also see the character FINALLY acting out of real motivation that can be understood, instead of just coming off as a near-villainous witch of a character. Reactron is put on trial, and Alura is determined that he will be tried justly and not simply killed out of vengeance-seeking. Unfortunately, her fellow New Kryptonians don’t all share the sentiment, leading to some interesting character development. Though Supergirl is present in these pages, this is very much Alura’s story, with her daughter playing a minor role. The end of the issue has an interesting (in a way) revelation that does seem par for the course. Not a bad issue, but not wonderful. If you’re already following the title and/or the over-arching story in the Super-books, this’ll be just fine. It’s not really an issue to entice new readers, I don’t think. Not sure if it’s significant or just an oversight on someone’s part, but the cover lacks the “World Against Superman” banner the titles have been carrying lately, though this retains the red-shield numbering begun with August’s Codename: Patriot arc.

Flash: Rebirth #5
I’m pretty sure this started out as a 5-issue mini-series…I recall it seeming slightly “off” as I recalled Green Lantern: Rebirth being 6, and thinking the two ought to be pretty much the same length. This issue sees all the various speedsters team up, as well as a development that presumably “solves” whatever issue it was Wally’s kids were having with their powers…and we seem to have a new Impulse (given Bart gave up the identity to become Kid Flash back in 2003). This continues the “legacy” aspect of the Flash line. There’s a revelation that affects Barry’s past…as well as a very specific threat to his past. This is a sorta interesting issue, but on the whole, continues to be more “miss” than “hit” for me. GL: Rebirth dispelled my unease toward returning a long-dead character to an old status quo and really set up a great new status quo that worked everyone into the mix. This Flash: Rebirth has not at all sold me on any “WHY” Barry needs to be back, and simply puts things logically into place to ALLOW for the character being back, and incorporating pretty much everything else involving the Flash family of characters. Recommended if you’ve already invested in the first 4 issues of the series.

Uncle Scrooge #385
It’s great to be able to pick up this series now. I’d bought maybe 3 issues several years ago while it was being put out by Gemstone, but simply could not justify the $8 per issue, even if it was squarebound and double-ish-sized. This issue is fairly low-key, picking up from the previous issue. Scrooge, Donald, and the nephews continue to deal with Magica as she tries for Scrooge’s Number One Dime. Once things are wrapped up at the mine, Scrooge & Co. wind up looking for sunken treasure, and dealing with Magica AND the Beagle Boys. While not the greatest of comics, this is still a good, fun issue, and well worth getting if you’ve any interest in these characters.

Archie #603
The “Wedding Story” has taken a twist I didn’t expect: rather than being a 6-part exploration of Archie marrying Veronica, after 3 issues of that the story has switched to give us the story of what would happen if Archie married Betty instead. I’m really enjoying this “longform” story that not only takes more than a page to tell, but multiple issues. I’ve picked up the occasional Archie book through the years…but with stories like this, I might just stick around on a monthly basis.

Superman #694
This issue sees Mon-El’s “official” return to action as he re-reveals himself to the people who’ve thought him dead for awhile. This also debuts the “new” costume…which honestly seems a non-issue to me, despite the big deal being made of it. On the whole, it looks to me like the only difference is that Mon-El is now sporting a small “S-shield,” as he’s holding Superman’s place…and Blue shorts to contrast with the red costume (sort of a reverse-Superman color scheme). Probably the best part of the issue is the interaction with Connor and Ma, showing that Mon has a place within the Superman family of characters.

Image United #1
I have mixed feelings on this book. For one thing, something of this scale ought to have a huge multi-panel fold-out cover, such that all the primary characters are spotlighted…instead of one having to choose one of six segments of the picture as the cover to purchase. I chose the Savage Dragon segment, that character long being one of my favorite characters that I rarely read, though the Spawn cover was cool, too. The “jam session” of having each character’s creator doing that character’s visuals is a very cool thing, and a different take on doing a crossover project. The story itself seems to be a slow build and full of little but action (presumably to show off the blending of the different art styles). Being familiar with these characters for the past 16-17 years, the blended style worked well, and nothing really seemed all that jarring. Since this will surely be collected into a single volume eventually and my proclivity toward this type of variant/alternate covers…I’ll probably pass on the subsequent issues and snag the collected volume when that comes out, if I still have enough interest.

Son of Marvel Reading Chronology
This is one of those freebies that Marvel puts out on occasion, to try to hook one on buying more product. While I prefer the “Saga” issues (they’re free, and take far, far longer to read than any other single comics, and fill me in on stuff so I know what’s up overall without having to keep up on Marvel’s output in general), this guide is rather informative, showing what volumes are out there, in-print…and what they collect. As well as, of course, the order to read them for a chronological reading experience in-continuity. If nothing else, this has informed me that there are currently 10 hardcovers collecting Ultimate Spider-Man, so I know there are only 5 left that I want to try to track down. This is definitely a worthwhile guide if you can find it and not have to pay for it…or at least, please don’t pay much for it, as It is SUPPOSED to be FREE.

Expectations of the Stack: November 18, 2009

Forgot about this tentative feature last week. I may stick with this being more of an occasonal/whenever-I-feel-like-it piece rather than a definite weekly thing. This week looks to be another rather large week, mostly for the addition of a couple Blackest Night tie-ins in titles I don’t normally buy, as well as two one-shots. Without further ado…

DR HORRIBLE ONE SHOT
This one should be cool, simply because it’s Dr. Horrible. And of course, that it’s got creative talent from the actual Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog…I fully expect it to be accurate and faithful to the show. Offhand, I believe this is a prologue of sorts, which should be all the more interesting and offer a bit of insight into the characters.

ADVENTURE COMICS #4
Well…it’s Blackest Night, and it’ll come with a ring. Almost ashamed to say I don’t much care beyond that. I recall the last issue had something indicating its story would continue after the Blackest Night tie-in, so there’s some story interruption. This is a title I’ve been buying anyway, so like Booster Gold…I was getting it whether it tied in or not.

FLASH REBIRTH #5 (OF 6)
Gotta love how both of this year’s Rebirth/Reborn series started out at 5 issues and were expanded to 6… Still, I’m on-board to see how it turns out, and hoping that the story’ll get better.

OUTSIDERS #24
No idea, honestly, what to expect from this one. Like Doom Patrol, I have absolutely no idea where things stand with the characters and their status quo. But it’s Blackest Night, so…yeah.

SUPERMAN BATMAN #66
Ditto. I think Solomon Grundy’s involved. I suppose I’ll find out on reading. Blackest Night…I can’t remember if this one comes with a ring or not…Blackest Night…

DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #5
Deadpool. ‘Nuff said.

TMNT #1 FULL COLOR ONE SHOT
This should be cool. I’ve got the old FIRST graphic novel/TPBs that put color to the early TMNT issues, but this–as a single issue–should be quite interesting coming in color. Also will–I think–be the first issue to come out from Mirage since the TMNT were sold, so kinda fitting, in a way.

Due to personal finances and this being (for me) a huge week, these other three will probably wait til the weekend or next week to get picked up:

SUPERGIRL #47
Because this is part of the ongoing Superman family story, keepin’ with it for now, though really, really hoping the story gets better/more interesting/more engaging. Also hoping we don’t have yet ANOTHER apparent character death.

INVINCIBLE #68
Not expecting much of this one…overall enjoying the title the last half year or so, and figure I’ll keep with it.

MICKEY MOUSE & FRIENDS #297
Can’t remember if this is the first or second issue coming out from Boom…nor whether or not I picked up the previous issue if this is the second. It’s great that the Disney titles are getting such a quick return to the shelves…but I can’t afford to keep with ’em all. Honestly, the variant covers for this will likely decide it for me…if I like a cover, get it. If only one’s available and there are 2 or more covers, I’ll pass.

THE REST OF THE STACK #1

I’d love to be able to review every comic I read–for comixtreme.com as well as this blog. However, as a volunteer thing for which I’m not paid and yet devote considerable time, the effort it’d take would sap all the fun out of it. I still like to weigh in on new comics, throw my opinion and thoughts out there, and even just vent about something that strikes me that doesn’t merit a full review. As such, I’m going to periodically post one of these Rest of the Stack pieces to cover–as the title implies–the rest of the week’s stack of comics not covered by individual reviews.

I don’t know that I’ll post this on any particular schedule–I know that as soon as I would make an attempt to post this, say, every Monday then next Monday something will come up and I’ll have broken the schedule as soon as it was set, so I’ll just leave this to be something I’ll likely post after I’ve finished the week’s reviews, before the next week’s reviews are posted.

Red Circle: The Shield one-shot

This issue read really quickly, and somehow did not feel like there was much of a completed ending to it. Sure, it gives us the quick ‘n dirty origin/introduction of the character, but it felt like more of a bridge or stepping-stone to what I expect to see in the Red Circle ongoings than it did a full story in itself–unlike the Web or Hangman one-shots. Not bad, but somewhat disappointing on the whole. I’ll be interested, though, to see how this Shield character plays out within the DC Universe.

Flash: Rebirth #4

This issue gives a new look at the origin of the Speed Force which also provides a role for Barry and reason for him to be back. I’m curious as to where the “modern” Zoom has gone with the return of the “classic” character–if that’s been shown in this book, I don’t recall it. While I tend to enjoy Johns’ work and Van Sciver’s art, this series has been fairly disappointing when compared to its Green Lantern counterpart. I expect it’ll make more sense in two more issues when I have a full story in front of me, but for the moment it’s something I’m buying more for its potential than actual monthly enjoyment.

Wonder Woman # 35

My first question with this issue is–where’s the story title on the cover? I rather like those banners, and often find myself mentally keeping track of a story by the story chapter number moreso than the title’s number. Between the previous issue and this, I’m enjoying the dynamic between Diana and Dinah…and would certainly enjoy seeing Dinah a permanent co-character in this series. There are a few things to Wonder Woman I’m still sorting out, and it was a bit odd the character’s suggestion to Tom at the end of the issue. I recalled an interview with the writer where she said she’d be exploring that facet of the character a bit (or that’s the take-away I recall getting from the article), and then it made sense. Still…can’t quite bring myself to simply wait for the trade, as I’ve come to enjoy Simone’s take on Wonder Woman–both the character AND the title.

Superman #691

This wraps the 4-part “crossover” Codename: Patriot story, and it certainly does what “they” said it would do: the story has provided things that will reverberate throughout the various Super-family books for awhile. We do get to see exactly who Codename: Patriot is, and while it fits in the context of what’s been established in the Super books, I’m not all that thrilled with the “reveal.” It’s cool seeing some different opposing forces beyond Luthor and his minions, but I don’t really “buy” this character as an opponent…or at least, not in any original way.

Superman Annual #14

I don’t know if the “origin” of Daxam had ever been explored before…to MY knowledge it’s always just been said that Daxamites are like Kryptonians–super-powered by a yellow sun, but weak to lead instead of Kryptonite (and their homeworld is still intact). The explanation of the planet’s history here make sense and nicely ties the two together, while contextualizing Mon-El a bit more. It also provides for what’s going on in GL Corps presently with the incursion of the Sinestro/Mongul Corps and whatnot. Not a bad issue for its price…though very glad it was NOT a $5 issue. Seems a bit of a take-it-or-leave-it thing…but if one’s immersing one’s self into the Superman books lately, it’s definitely a worthwhile read.

The Flash: Rebirth #3 [Review]

Rearview Mirrors

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist: Brian Miller
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Ethan Van Sciver, Alex Sinclair (variant by Van Sciver & Brian Miller)
Publisher: DC Comics

The “Rebirth” bit is losing its shine with me here. While expectations have been that the trumpeted return of Barry Allen is the focus of this series–that he’d be restored as Hal Jordan was to Green Lantern in that title’s “Rebirth” mini–my expectations are steadily dropping.

This issue sees reaction to Barry apparently interacting with the speed force in such a way that others tapping into it are dying as his body seeks more and more speed power, in an almost vampiric sorta way. While everyone else hustles to figure a way to separate Barry from the speed force–sure, he’d lose the speed, but at least he’d be ALIVE–Barry determines to go his on sacrificial course…one that puts him back in the familiar role of essentially racing Superman. The issue’s ending puts Barry face to face with who the villain of the piece likely is, in a way that also reminds me very much of the Green Lantern: Rebirth series.

The story, somehow–perhaps I just don’t want to like it–seems one of the weakest I can think of from Johns. While I’d known Kyle as Green Lantern longer than Hal, I’d still known Hal as Green Lantern first. However, the first real exposure I had to the Flash, it was Wally–and in restrospect, had BEEN Wally for bout 3 years before I owned my first comic. While the situation presented in this story is mildly interesting, I do not find Barry himself interesting…certainly not the way I did Hal. And I make the comparisons given the creative team and the title of this series–obviously meant to BE compared to GL:R.

The art by Van Sciver–ESPECIALLY the cover–is top-notch; I really can’t complain about it. Much as Van Sciver brought in the glowing/projected imagery for the GLs of the Lantern logo, he brings that to bear on the Flash with the lightning. Not that it’s original, but something about it really pops.

As a whole, this is a higher quality book than the first couple issues of the post-Bart-as-Flash title that I actually read. It’s not bad for those new to the Flash family of characters (I am myself learning more of the character grouping than I’d known of them prior), so overall accessible to new readers. It’s just lacking a certain excitement and enjoyment factor. With Green Lantern, it felt like the return/rebirth of Hal Jordan mattered. With Barry…it feels like we’re looking for a reason FOR his return to matter.

Story: 7/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8/10

The Flash: Rebirth #1 [Review]

Lightning Strikes Twice

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Ethan Van Sciver, Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

We open with a mystery in this issue, as someone with a tie to or fixation on the Flashes attacks and kills people in the Central City crime lab. As other police storm the lab, the killer–who was gathering certain chemicals–seems to reenact the accident that gave Barry Allen his powers. We then move to a “welcome back!” parade being held in honor of the recently-returned Barry Allen; while those closest to him also revel in the hero’s return. Barry resists the attention and importance placed on his return. When an old foe returns, Barry is onhand to deal with the foe–though what he gets is far from what he expected.

The art for this issue is quite good…but somehow for me fails to hold up to my expectations for how much I enjoyed the art on the OTHER Rebirth mini. Very solid stuff here, and you’d be hard-pressed to find much better, though!

I’m quite underwhelmed with the story so far. With the exception of a handful of my grandfather’s old comics more than a decade ago, the only instances I’ve ever had reading Barry have been few and far between, with him making brief appearances in Wally’s life…so I don’t know how the characterization holds up (ore doesn’t) by comparison. At the moment, I’m really not interested in Barry, even after this issue, and while the issue’s end leaves me curious as to what’s caused what happened, I can’t help but wonder if it’ll come across more cliched than not.

It was Johns’ focus issue on Zoom a few years back that first really drew me into the world of the Flash, and it’s Johns’ Flash that developed any interest I really have in the character–so I’m holding out hope that my interest will develop a lot more as this series progresses.

Probably the main drawback of this issue as a whole is that it feels–more than a lot of comics–like it IS a story chopped into segments. If you ReallyHaveToKnowRightNowAsItUnfolds what’s going on, jump on this issue. If you’re just looking for what’s hopefully going to be one of THE Flash stories with great art, I suspect you’ll be better off waiting for the collected volume.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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