Collected Comic Review: The Flash Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1

The Flash Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1: Collecting Flash: Rebirth (2016) #1, The Flash (2016) #1-13

I have been keeping up with a few of DC's Rebirth titles digitally over the past year (all of which I have enjoyed), but this Deluxe Edition of The Flash marks the first from DC's new line that I have picked up to add to my collection.  That is partly due to the fact that it was the first title that I wanted to grab to be released, and partly because I have really enjoyed this latest volume of Barry Allen's adventures so far.

Prior to reading the The Flash Rebirth (2016) - not to be confused with the Geoff Johns mini-series from 2009 - I had not been familiar with Joshua Williamson's work, although I did recognize the name from hearing chatter about his Image title Nailbiter (which I have yet to read).  On the other had, I was familiar with prior work of primary artist Carmine Di Giandomenico as he had co-written and illustrated the Daredevil: Battlin' Jack Murdock mini-series from 2007 (among other things).


After the Flash Rebirth one shot (which, upon a second read through does a great job of foreshadowing things to come in the main title), The Flash Rebirth begins by exploring the following question: what happens when a Speed Force storm (similar to the one that gave Barry his powers) hits Central City, resulting in dozens of citizens gaining Flash-like powers?  I know, I know, more speedsters.  It seems a bit over done at this point right?  That's pretty much what I thought too, but Williamson actually handles it quite well, using the scenario to introduce and flesh out new characters (August Heart, Meena Dhawan, Godspeed) while also tackling Barry's usual overwhelming feelings of responsibility to others along with his expanded mentor-ship duties.  He is no longer just a mentor to both Wallys (the original, recently returned Wally - read the DC Universe Rebirth one shot - and the New 52 Kid Flash Wally), but also at the newly created S.T.A.R. Labs Speed Force Training Center, where he helps those effected by the Speed Force storm adapt to their new found abilities.


Di Giandomenico's pencils fit The Flash well in my opinion.  Some may describe his work as an acquired taste, but I enjoy it and feel that his style provides a very kinetic feel to the book's action.  He is joined on the art duties by the likes of Neil Googe, Felipe Watanabe, Jorge Corona, and Davide Gianfelice.  Keeping a book on schedule when shipping twice a month is a team effort and this group is up to the task.  Gianfelice's style is the most similar to Di Giandomenico's of the fill in artists, but the other three are fairly similar to each other, and fortunately the art shifts take place between arcs so it is never too distracting.


This first oversize hardcover (OHC) is an absolutely beautiful collection and reprints the Flash: Rebirth (2016) one shot and the first thirteen issues of The Flash (2016), which turns out to be about the first six months worth of stories from the title.  It has a gorgeous wrap-around cover and includes a variant cover gallery (with some great Dave Johnson artwork), as well as a page of Di Giandomenico's character designs for August, Meena and Godspeed.  It would have been nice to see more behind the scenes design work, but I guess that other characters didn't really require redesigns as they've carried over from prior DC continuity.  If this is the type of quality that can be expected from DC's other Deluxe Rebirth editions, I'll be quite pleased.


Williamson has said in the past that he's a big fan of the character and has wanted to write The Flash for a long time.  While he hasn't done anything Earth-shattering on the title (at least not yet, I'm more than happy to see where he takes things during his run), it is obvious that he has a very good grasp on the characters and under his guidance the book has been a lot of fun.  He doesn't rely on Flash mainstays like The Rogues at first, instead introducing a new villain (Godspeed) and incorporating The Shade in an arc towards the end of this collection, a nice nod to one of The Flash's earliest villains (The Shade first appeared in Flash comics #33 back in 1942).  That was an appearance that I thought was cool when I was reading it in singles, but that I now have a much greater appreciation for having recently been working my way through Starman (1994).  Williamson also does a good job of seeding plot points for future arcs throughout, alluding to impending shenanigans involving the aforementioned Rogues.


My only real complaint about this book is that we won't get the second volume until May of next year.  DC has been doing a pretty good job with the amount of material that they have been collecting recently, I just wish they were a little bit quicker about it.  Despite DC's numerous universe-wide reboots, The Flash is probably the one character whose continuity has been the least effected (as he or his powers are generally at the center of whatever caused the change to begin with).  Despite that, Williamson and Di Giandomenico's Rebirth run is as good of a jumping on point as any.  Also reading the DC Universe Rebirth one shot may be a bit helpful, but otherwise this is about as new reader friendly as a Flash book could be.  Williamson references prior continuity here and there, but never in too much depth so if you don't have that background, it doesn't hinder the story he's telling.  But if you do, there's an added layer there that is nice for long time fans.  


The Flash Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1 is a nice addition to the other Flash over-sized hardcover collections already out there and I eagerly await future volumes to accompany this one on my shelf.  I'm excited to see where Williamson goes with the rest of his run.  He's already churned out twenty eight issues to date and it looks as though he's settled in for the long run.

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