Sunday, April 18, 2010

Endless Speed

It's mini-series month, evidently, and I haven't even addressed Blackest Night yet. As a rule I like mini-series, what with their definitive endings. Less so with superheroes, of course, but even these have clearly defined beginning, middle and end. Plus, I usually hope, however unrealistically, that being a mini-series means a well defined and timely publishing schedule. Reasonably speaking, a publisher could have the whole thing in the can before the first issue even comes out.

Putting to lie to those expectations was Flash: Rebirth. It hummed along for the first 4 issues that came out monthly, but then went 4 months 'til the 5th issue and another 3 months after that for the 6th, making a 6 issue series that should have been done in half a year take more like a year. The last issue's link into the Blackest Night wasn't so much a preview, as it should have been, as a "who cares", as Blackest Night was over by this point. More importantly, the delay just killed the flow. I'd forgotten all about what was going on in the first 4 issues by the time the end hit.

In terms of story, it was a re-set a la the recent Star Trek movie. In fact, it used the same sort of time traveling devices to re-write some of the origins of Barry Allen. Unlike the Star Trek universe, which has never held that the past is inviolate and can't be changed, more than once this story mentioned that various Flash incarnations have traveled in time previously without any ill effects or even an ability to affect history, yet the Reverse Flash can. Rather than explain that, Johns just has Barry Allen say the Reverse Flash can and that's that.

It's not a bad story, just unsatisfying. The art's very nice and does a good job of conveying the movement of the story, but in the end we're left with 3 guys using the name Flash, each in a different costume (and Barry Allen's and Wally West's are way too similar to keep straight), Bart Allen back in Kid Flash role, Iris West as Impulse, her brother Jai West without powers, and Max Mercury saved from being trapped in the Speed Force. Poor Johnny Quick doesn't survive, but Jesse Quick is back, which isn't in keeping with the JSA where she's still Liberty Belle.

I suppose the most significant thing to come out of the tale is that Barry Allen is the Speed Force, or at least the source of it, while Eobard Thawne is the source of the Reverse Flash Speed Force. I'd have liked to have seen more about what that means rather than just revival of characters and a more tragic childhood for Barry Allen. How is it that Barry Allen is the source of the Speed Force? Does that make him timeless/immortal? Wouldn't the Reverse Flash's Speed Force be opposite, or is his name just a gimmick without meaning? He's a bad guy, sure, but is that the only "reverse" about him? Speed's his thing and his Speed Force appears to operate in the same way, except for allowing him to change history, which isn't so much a "reverse" of Barry Allen's Speed Force as an additional ability. How is the Reverse Speed Force dependent on Barry Allen's Speed Force? If they're symbiotic, how can Barry Allen's Speed Force exist prior to the Reverse Speed Force? If the Reverse Speed Force is dependent on the former, how can the Reverse Flash have additional abilities that the Flash does not?

Ouch. Damn time travel stuff. Always makes my head hurt.

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