Review: DC Universe Rebirth – The universe and its mysteries
Beware: this article is spoiler territory.
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 (and past) of the DC Universe starts here. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
First off, let me start by saying this – Wow. That’s all that really needs to be said. So on that note, thanks, everybody, I’ll see you next week when I’ll be reviewing The Punisher #2, Batman Rebirth #1, and Civil War II #1. Wait, what’s that? You wanted an actual review? Okay, but seriously, DC Universe Rebirth #1 is full of revelations, and I tell you now, the given synopsis is correct, do not skip to the last page! Strap yourselves in, everybody, there is a lot to talk about.
This issue begins with an unseen character telling us the story of how he came into the possession of a watch. This particular watch was past down from father to son for generations, until now. The watch is lost, broken. Time is lost, broken. Our enigmatic narrator informs us a little about his life growing up, his family, while a number of visual clues in the pages offer hints at who this mysterious narrator is. Fear not, dear reader, for it won’t be long until all is revealed. If you’re lost, unable to anchor yourself to reality, which DC hero would you reach out to? There’s only ever really one choice.
Featuring a myriad of DC’s greatest characters, we first join the world’s greatest detective – Batman, which also treats us to our first huge revelation, one that I am particularly excited to see play out, which I’m sure will be continued in next week’s Batman Rebirth #1 – there is not one, there are not two, but three Jokers! As of this moment, it remains to be seen whether this is a case of three separate Jokers coming together from multiverse, three iterations of the same Joker, or if there has simply been three Jokers all along. As a long time fan of the character, I’m especially interested in your thoughts about this surprise reveal, so if you have a theory, let me know in the comments below.
The second revelation reveals to us our narrator – a character long thought erased from history. Wally West. The one time Flash is perilously stuck in the Speed Force, and has been for roughly ten years, he needs help, and the recent fallout from the Darkseid War (Justice League #50) has granted him the opportunity to find it. His time is running out, soon he will become one with the Speed Force. As this issue is very much about Wally and his attempt at rejoining the universe, we see more of his life growing up pre-Flashpoint, such as the time he met Barry Allen for the very first time, the event that would transform Wally into the metahuman known as Kid Flash, his evolution into The Flash himself, and the day he met the love of his life – Linda Park.
And here comes our third revelation. After the Flashpoint crossover event (one that I recommend to all fans of the DC universe), when everything was being put back in place, when timelines were healing, a mysterious force attacked, altered the universe. Wally states that ten years were stolen from the universe, leading to legendary heroes becoming novices, bonds between heroes weakened and erased, legacies destroyed. Readers of this issue will not have long to wonder. I believe that, through Wally West, Geoff Johns is commenting on the flaws often associated with the New52 over the past number of years. The decades of world building, of connections and emotion were gone with the introduction of the New52. These were our superheroes, yet in a sense, they weren’t. They may have had similar backstories / origins to the pre-52ers, but in the end, they were simply shadows of those that came before. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy parts of the New52, I was in fact a huge fan of the New52 Batman run, a spectacular read that everybody should check out.
And this, readers, is merely the end of Chapter 1. From here on out I’ll try to be more concise with what I have to say, but believe me when I tell you that there is still a whole lot more to discuss. For those of you that enjoy the romantic side of fiction will be excited by the third chapter in particular, as we join members of the Justice League with their partners. This chapter serves to motivate Wally in his mission to find Linda, his anchor to the world. Seeing his allies all loved up gives him the drive he needs to locate his love, in the hope that he can make her remember him. This segment provides us with something integral to developing a connection to fictional characters – relatable human behaviours. In a universe based around superheroed metahumans, interdimentional destruction, and so on, it’s easy to forget to include a much needed human element into the story, yet in our first venture into Rebirth Geoff Johns provides that element in spades.
Fans of both the DC universe and Adventure Time will no doubt notice a similarity between the two franchises at the beginning of Chapter 3, with Darkseid in the form of an infant, just as The Lich. The big difference here is that Darkseid retains his cruel appearance, with glowing red eyes, while The Lich is now in the form of ‘Sweet Pea’, and innocent child with no idea of the horror he once inflicted (and unconsciously continues to).
From the very first page, we are offered clues regarding the identity of the ‘malevolent’ force that stole ten years from the universe, with some being obscure, while others are slightly more revealing, without explicitly giving the game away, for example, a character bearing the name Mr. Oz makes an appearance partway into the issue. The character of Mr. Oz has recently made an appearance in the Superman series, and as of yet, we don’t really know precisely who this guy is, but with the final plot twist of the issue, we can make a substantial claim. The biggest clue before the reveal comes from the panel immediately before the epilogue – a familiar smiley faced button with a speck of blood across the face, as Wally concludes narration with “we’re being watched!”. Mind blown yet, readers? Excitement levels rising? I expect so.
And so we have reached the end of the review. What a ride! What a fantastic start to Rebirth, and hopefully to the rebirth of DC itself. I sincerely hope that Rebirth signals a successful turnaround for DC, giving them a chance to right some wrongs, and to reinvigorate their awesome, rich tapestry of a universe. Geoff Johns recently offered to buy back issues of DC Universe Rebirth #1 from any fan that was not satisfied with the release. That is not a problem he will have to worry about as this was an amazing read, fans of the DC Universe will not be left wanting, will not be let down, but instead eager to pick up any follow up issue relating to Rebirth. In my humble opinion, Geoff Johns is really doing his damnedest to set DC back on a path to greatness, and if this first issue is anything to go by, it’s going to work.
So now it’s your turn. What did you think of the first issue of DC’s Rebirth? Were you a fan? Did you love the twists and turns, and that conclusion? Oh my, that conclusion! Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to know what theories you have, what you enjoyed, disliked, and your hopes for the future of the DC Universe.
Written by: Geoff Johns.
Art by: Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis, Ethan Van Sciver.
Cover by: Gary Frank.
DC Universe Rebirth #1 is available now.
Image credits: DC Comics.