Saturday, June 13, 2009

Flash: Rebirth #3

A Flash/Superman race! Two of the DCU's biggest names have superspeed as part of their arsenal of tricks, so a natural question for fans to ask is, "Who's faster?" Numerous creators over the years have attempted to answer that very question. I point you again to the fantastic Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning for a rundown of races past.

Page 1.
Panel 1.
Here we are in Abra Kadabra's hideout. Although we don't actually see him, he is most likely the offpanel speaker. I'm not sure who the second magician he is talking to is.

We last saw Kadabra in issue #1. He was holding the Barry puppet and the Wally, Jay, and Bart puppets were hanging from the ceiling. They've now all been unceremoniously dumped on the ground.

Kadabra first used puppets in Flash (Vol. 1) #133, in which he actually turned Barry into a puppet! Barry ended up defeating the magician, while still in puppet form no less, in front of a crowd of spectators who had come to see Kadabra perform.

In the background, we see lots of classic magic tricks. For example, sawing a lady in half (I can't quite make out what's in the box -- hopefully not half a lady!), pulling a rabbit out of a hat, a guillotine, and many cards scattered on the floor.

Panel 2.
"There isn't room in this century for the both of us." This is a nod to the fact that Kadabra hails from the 64th century.

Panel 4.
Poor Barry-puppet. Kadabra himself was seriously burned by an exploding car in Flash (Vol. 2) #23 (which incidentally also featured characters get turned into puppets). In his subsequent appearances (at least until recently), he was horribly scarred from the incident.

Page 2.
Panel 1.
Here, Jesse Chambers/Liberty Belle looks at statues of her parents, Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. Off-panel, and seen in the next few panels, is her husband, Rick Tyler/Hourman. Johnny died in Impluse #11, and the first Liberty Belle was last seen leading a tour of the Liberty Bell in Justice Society of America #4.

Panel 4.
Jesse's connection to the Speed Force weakened when she lent Wally her powers so that he could defeat Zoom, back in Flash (Vol. 2) #200.

Page 3.
Panel 2.
And here we have Johnny speaking to Jesse from the Speed Force. This is actually a glimpse of a scene from later in this issue.

Page 4.
Panel 1.
We return to Fallville, Iowa, where we left Wally and Barry at the end of last issue.

Barry claims to recognize "some" of the heroes seen here, and "a lot" of them are new to him. Let's see! (Barry's death was published in 1985, so we'll use that as a guide.)

Green Lantern (Alan Scott): The JLA and JSA had regular teamups over the years. Check.
Superman: Duh.
Wonder Woman: Duh.
Wildcat: JSA
Jay: Duh.
Wally: Duh. Even though Barry's in a black costume and there wouldn't really be any confusion, it's interesting that Wally was drawn sans cowl.

Metamorpho: First appeared in 1964. Metamorpho has long been associated with the Outsiders. Although they're a more behind-the-scenes group than the League, they've probably crossed paths.
Sandman: First appeared in 1941. Was the Golden Age Sandman's sidekick, so they probably would've met. However, Barry probably hasn't seen him in his current costume.
Black Lightning: First appeared in 1977. Also an Outsider for much of the time Barry was alive. New haircut and costume might prevent Barry from recognizing him.

New to Barry:
Doctor Midnite: First appeared in 1999.
Mister Terrific: First appeared in 1997.
Stargirl: First appeared in 1999.

I wonder who designed the tech they're using to isolate Barry. I'd like to think that Tina McGee was involved -- she's certainly the most qualified to be dealing with Speed Force-related matters. Jay's responsible for most of the techno-babble on the next page, so it seems he also had a hand in it. He is a scientist after all!

Panel 2.
Check out the big black hand, apparently composed of Speed Force energy, that comes up to meet with Wally's on the other side of the glass. Freaky!

Page 5.
Panel 1.
Wally's 20th birthday party occured in the pages of Flash (Vol. 2) #1, which likely took place less than a year (comic book time) after Barry's death, so we can assume Wally was 19 the last time they hung out. There's not a lot of guys who grow 4 inches after they're 19. However, Barry's exact words are "the last time I really spent time with him". This may refer to a point earlier in Wally's Kid Flash career

Panel 2.
"I feel guilty." There we go with that theme again.

Panel 3.
"Jay always wanted to be a father." Jay explains his short-lived experience as a father in JSA #25. Joan was unable to have children, so they adopted a son. However, he died of pneumonia after only two weeks.

Page 6.
Panel 3.
Bart certainly has had a strong connection to the Speed Force in the past. In fact, during his stint as the Flash in the pages of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, Bart was the Speed Force!

Page 7.
Panel 2.
A recurring theme during Mark Waid's run on the Flash was Wally using his love for Linda as a guide back home after a brush with the Speed Force. I can think of at least four times this happened, after the Zero Hour miniseries and the "Terminal Velocity", "Dead Heat", and "Chain Lightning" storylines in Flash.

Panels 3-5.
Notice the art in these three panels is basically the same. Iris's hand only appears in the final two, and the Speed Force energy gets progressively wilder.

Page 8.
Panel 1.
Flashback time.
This is probably Barry and Iris's first date, the one Iris tried to set up in last issue's flashback. (It probably was rescheduled since Barry got hit by lightning and all). I doubt Barry would have continued calling her "Miss West" after they'd gone out a few times!

Panel 4.
This is an homage to Showcase #4. One of Barry's first feats of superspeed was a similar save when a waitress spilled her tray in the diner he ate at after his accident.

Page 9.
Panel 1.
Sigh. Another pre-tied bowtie. Barry better learn to tie his own soon!

Panel 2.
A slight nod to Barry's future career wearing red all the time!

Panel 3.
"Thank you." Although this is certainly a line from the flashback, Barry is also thanking Iris for giving him the strength to do what he is about to do.

Page 10.
Panel 1.
When I first read this page, I was really worried that Iris was caught in the blast. But fortunately, that's Wally carrying her to safety down at the bottom of the panel.

Page 12.
Panel 2.
"Dr. Caulder" is certainly Niles Caulder, brilliant scientist and founder of the Doom Patrol.

Panel 4.
In the previous panel, Barry commanded Hal to release him. Did Hal obey? Or did Barry just vibrate through a Green Lantern construct?

Panel 5.
Great pose. Barry's ready for a race, and crouches down like he's about to run the 100m at the Olympics.

Page 13.
Panel 2.
Notice the black on Barry's costume is beginning to peel away.

Page 14.
Panel 1.
And here we go, a Flash/Superman race, just like the cover promised!

Page 15.
Panel 1.
J'onn J'onzz died in Final Crisis #1, Arthur Curry (aka Aquaman) died in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50, and Bruce Wayne (Batman...) died in Final Crisis #7.

Panel 2.
Barry and Clark run up the side of the Daily Planet building!

Panel 4.
Best. Line. Ever. I literally laughed out loud when I read this and the following panel, where Barry leaves Clark in the dust.

Page 16.
Panel 3.
Over the next few pages, we literally see Barry's life flash in front of his eyes.

Here, we have a scene from issue #1 of this very miniseries, when Barry leaves the Flash Museum. In the original scene, Barry was wearing a red shirt, and Hal's line was "Late? Late for what?", so a teeny bit different.

Panel 4.
Barry's first post-resurrection appearance, from Final Crisis #2. He's chasing a god-bullet backwards through time.

Page 17.
Panel 1.
Barry's trial, from the final year or so of his series, when he had been arrested for the manslaughter of Professor Zoom. The speaker is District Attorney Anton Slater. One of the jurors, not seen here, is Nathan Newbury, who was actually host to the psychic essence of Iris!

Panel 2.
Barry's friends and frequent collaborators. We already know Hal and Jay. The man in the purple is Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man. He actually first appeared in Barry's own title, in Flash #112. He died in 52, but lives on as a ghost detective.

Panel 3.
Wally's secret origin from Flash (Vol. 1) #110! Ethan Van Sciver did his research here - this is exactly the outfit Wally was wearing in the original scene. Many modern retellings show Wally wearing a t-shirt, e.g., The Life Story of the Flash.

Panel 4.
Barry and Iris kiss. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a particular scene we've seen before. Interesting, the umbrella over their heads echoes the Green Lantern construct umbrella which sheltered Iris a few pages ago.

Panel 5.
The first date, from a few pages back.

Page 18.
Panel 1.
The Accident. Showcase #4.

Panel 3.
We saw this scene last issue in a flashback. Then, we saw it from the side, seeing both Iris and Barry's faces. Now we see just Iris, just like Barry would have remembered. Nice touch.

Panel 5.
Barry's obsession with his mother's murder case was hinted at last issue for being one of the primary driving forces behind his choice in career.

Panel 7.
Barry visits his dad in prison.

Panel 8.
Dr. Allen is taken away. We saw this scene in flashback in issue #1 of this miniseries.

Barry forgets Iris's name! This has also happened to Wally during brushes with the Speed Force. In Flash (Vol. 2) #115, he was stranded in the 27th century after the "Dead Heat" storyline. The Flash of that era, John Fox, helped him out by reminding Wally, as Linda's name had been recorded in history. Ironically, a future version of Fox was, in that very same issue, back in the 20th century putting the moves on Linda while Wally was away!

Page 19.
Panel 2.
Another scene from the Rebirth #1 flashback.

Panel 3.
Barry's birth. We were given a pretty indepth look at the events of that night in Flash (Vol. 2) #144. The doctor was Asa Gilmore, and he was drunk. One other woman, Charlene Thawne, was also in labor the same night, and Gilmore accidentally killed the baby. Nora Allen, however, had delivered twins. In his state, Gilmore decided it was only fair to split the babies between the two couples, claiming to the Allens that one twin had been stillborn. This twin, Malcolm Thawne, grew up to become Cobalt Blue.

Panel 6.
Barry struggles to remember even his own name. This happened to Wally as well in the aforementioned Flash #115.

Page 20.
Panel 1.
It's interesting that, despite struggling to remember his own and his wife's names, Barry instantly recognizes Golden Age speedsters Johnny Quick and Max Mercury! I suspect this was done mostly for the benefit of the readers who might not recognize these two characters.

Barry probably didn't have much, if any, interaction with either of them while they were alive. Possibly Johnny, but Max was either jumping through time or selling subway tokens during much of Barry's career. I guess if dead speedsters can hang out in the Speed Force, they would've gotten to know each other.

Page 21.
Panel 1.
3x2(9yz)4a is the formula Johnny (and Jesse) used to access the Speed Force (although it wasn't until his death that Johnny finally admitted that the Speed Force even existed).

As an aspiring mathematician, it has always bugged me that this "formula" is not an equation (there isn't a "=" anywhere). And couldn't you simplify it to 216axyz?

This, by the way, is the scene Jesse sees at the beginning of the issue.

Panel 4.
It's interesting that Johnny's last words concern his wife. As Jesse mentioned earlier, they separated long ago. Plus, isn't he already dead? Can you die a speedster death, get sent to the Speed Force, and then die a real death once there?

Panel 6.
Hmmm, "Professor"... I wonder who the big bad is?

Page 22.
Panel 1.
And here he is. Eobard Thawne, aka Professor Adrian Zoom, aka the Reverse-Flash. Most of his appearances since his death at Barry's hands have been younger versions (for instance, "Return of Barry Allen" occured, from Zoom's perspective, before he even met Barry). However, I'm inclined to think that this is post-killed-by-Barry Zoom, and he was also sent to the Speed Force after his death.

Notice that Zoom's carrying a lighting-bolt spear, just like the murder weapon seen at the beginning of the first issue!

Also, Max isn't disintegrating like Johnny is, even though he clearly touched Barry on the last page.

See you next issue!