DC Comics ‘Rebirth’ review!

'Rebirth' - DC Comics
'Rebirth' - DC Comics
'Rebirth' artwork from DC Comics
‘Rebirth’ artwork from DC Comics
  • Written by Geoff Johns
  • Pencils by Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez & Ethan Van Sciver
  • Cover by Gary Frank

It all begins here. Do not skip to the last page. Do not let a friend or message board ruin this comic for you. The future 9and past) of the DC Universe starts here. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

THEY SAID IT: “Rebirth is about focusing in on the core of the character and their respective universe,” says writer and DC Entertainment Cheif Creative Officer Geoff Johns. “It brings back what as been lost: the legacy of the character, the love and the hope of the DCU!”

It’s finally arrived! After a fair amount of hype ‘Rebirth’ landed in comic book stores on Wedneday and it hasn’t failed to disappoint. The 80-page special was released as the special price of $2.99, not just because DC Comics wanted to coax back lost readers but because ‘Rebirth’ is a bold commitment to bring the fun back in to reading DC Comics.

The issue sets up what is reportedly going to be a two-year storyline around how the DC Universe gets its groove back after what many feel was a disappointing period with New 52. I didn’t personally have any problems with New 52 continuity although there were some titles I struggled to enjoy. I put that down to the writing rather than the overall arc and mission of the DCU.

‘Rebirth’ very cleverly sets out to merge the New 52 version of the DCU with all prior incarnations by holding stating in it’s opening pages that a chunk of time has been stolen and it all ties back to the ‘Flashpoint’ storyline (take note fans of TVs ‘The Flash’).

The overall arc of the story is a great metaphor for DC Comics predicament. They’ve lost a number of their core readership over the course of the last few years but they have also picked up a great many new readers. How do you satisfy the appetite of the new whilst reinvigorating that of the old? Essentially the chunk of missing time is representative of the legacy DC admittedly feel they have lost. Merging that missing time with New 52 memories means they can have the best of both worlds.

Seen through the eyes of a long absent Wally West the story unfolds following the events of ‘Superman’ #52 and ‘Justice League’ #50. The Darkseid War is over and the Superman of New 52 is dead. The bulk of the one-shot follows Wally as he tries to reconnect with the universe he is lost from though it appears all of his hero colleagues have forgotten him. This is again a great metaphor for the lost legacy of the DCU. Wrapped up in this excellent story are some serious feelings of regret and a longing to fix what is broken.

‘Rebirth’ doesn’t simply act to reset the universe once more. It adds some huge mysteries and intrigue to the world that in many ways did feel closed ended in its final issues.

Superman is dead. But wait. During the ‘Convergence’ storyline the pre-New 52 Superman survived and remained on ‘our’ Earth. His storyline, at least at the beginning of the ‘Rebirth’ arc will be about accepting his destiny and becoming a hero once more. Helpfully I don’t recall this Superman ever gaining the supernova power of New 52 Superman so his issues of losing his powers etc… are now a thing of the past. Where his character was perhaps too human in New 52 this can now be sidelined as the ‘true’ Superman returns to the fore. Whether or not the ‘Rebirth’ world will remember that his secret identity was unveiled or not remains to be seen.

The journey of Batman through ‘Rebirth’ should be very interesting. For those who have read ‘Justice League’ #50 the shock twist that the Möbius chair revealed that there are three (count them; 1, 2, 3!) Jokers in the world.

It is touched upon lightly in ‘Rebirth’ as we see Batman looking at a monitor trying to decipher how and why there are three of them. If the artwork is to be believed we are looking at a original Joker as he first appeared in the comics, Grant Morrison’s Joker a la ‘The Killing Joke’ and the Scott Snyder Joker or recent comics. Three very important and in their own ways pivotal versions of the character. How this will play out I am unsure but I’m open to how DC Comics make it work.

Many feel that the Joker has been overplayed in recent years, particularly in the Scott Snyder era of ‘Batman’ comics. I have always been intrigued by the character so I’m genuinely interested to see where this goes. Hopefully the revelations will have repercussions on other members of the Bat-family, particularly Batgirl.

There are also some great character moments for The Flash, it was particularly nice to see him interacting with the people of Central City. The moment he brings pizza to starving victims the he had just saved was really nice. ‘The Flash’ comics have been so caught up in huge storylines in recent months that small character moments have been forgotten. His scenes in ‘Rebirth’ really enforce the idea that DC Comics want to bring character back to the DCU. I fell Flash has always been the heart of the DCU and that has never been more true.

Other members of the Justice League are given small moments, Wonder Woman clearly bereft at the loss of Superman is the only time we get to spend with her here. The revelation that she has a twin brother somewhere in the world will clearly reverberate throughout the DCU vault for now we need to focus on setting up the core mystery.

Speaking of the core mystery, there is still time within those 80-pages to really shake things up. Once Wally is safely reintroduced to the world the memories begin to return the focus of ‘Rebirth’ moves to who in fact stole the missing 10 years. I was genuinely surprised at the revelation that comes before and during the ‘Epilogue’ section of the book.

I won’t spoil it here but it seems DC are bringing a major storyline in to main continuity or at least merging another universe in to the ‘Rebirth’ continuity. It’s a hugely bold choice and one DC will really need to stick to their guns on to make it work.

Overall the ‘Rebirth’ story goes feel like a genuine reset and a well planned one. I didn’t get the sense that this was a desperate attempt to attract readers or simply just a way to excite the writers against at the behest of the reader.

The artowork in ‘Rebrith’ is solid. Different chapters have different artists but the continuity that so often bugs me is there. We see Batman in the new costume that he has been wearing in the most recent issues of his own series but there’s little chance to catch a glimpse of other heroes in their updated outfits. ‘Rebirth’ is very much a transitional issue. But it’s an issue which really jumps of the page and visually, as well as metaphorically, tries to reassert that DC Comics are committing to making their books the best that they can be.

‘Rebirth’ is undoubtedly a great jumping off point for new readers so grab this whilst you can before it disappears ready for a second printing. Don’t forget that despite the 80-pages it is still only $2.99 and will have you hooked on DC by the time you finish the the first chapter!

5 stars

About Neil Vagg 2551 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG