Comic Review: ‘DC Universe: Rebirth’ #1

A note on spoilers:  whilst this review avoids discussing specific plot details, there are inevitably some minor spoilers.

Written by:  Geoff Johns / pencilled by:  Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis and Phil Jemenez

What’s it about?

Something isn’t right…one man’s journey through time and space will set events in motion that will change the universe as he knows it forever…

In review

This is it, the moment that the DC Comics brain trust has been planning for and the readership nervously awaiting…the new dawn of the DC Comics universe.  Taking its lead from the fallout of Superman #52 and Justice League #50 (concluding the story arcs The Final Days of Superman and Darkseid War respectively), DC Universe: Rebirth #1 facilitates a new beginning for the DCU that seeks to reconcile elements of the rebooted ‘New 52’ continuity, instigated in 2011 by the Flash-centric event Flashpoint, with remnants of the ‘old’ universe and coalesce them into a fresh and cohesive whole.

As the title of this 80-page one-shot suggests, this is not a line-wide reset in the vein of the New 52 but is simply a refresh that restores a sense of optimism that many readers felt had become diminished by the darker and generally more downbeat storytelling of recent years.  Who better to entrust this great task with other than DC Comics’ star writer and chief creative force Geoff Johns?  Johns’ love for this universe and its players has already been evidenced via his efforts in the now iconic Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Flash: Rebirth mini-series, proving his ability to focus sharply on character relatability amongst epic backdrops (he even made an often-riddled DC hero cool with his short-but-sweet run on Aquaman for the New 52).

Told from the perspective of the original Kid-Flash/Flash successor Wally West, Johns deftly weaves together the strands of multiple aspects of the DCU and with some careful tweaking helps to reshape, or perhaps more accurately realign continuity in a manner that doesn’t dismiss the New 52 but reintroduces elements that have felt missing, including some key character relationships that were all but wiped out post-Flashpoint.

With the DCU befalling to numerous universe destroying events and resets over the last thirty years or so – from Crisis on Infinite Earths to Infinite Crisis and Flashpoint – it’s commendable that Johns has managed to skilfully balance past and present with both reverence for legacy and mindfulness of the future, the only issue being that it hampers accessibility to a certain extent.  Whilst it’s still possible for new readers to enjoy the book it’s ultimately enriched and enhanced by a deeper understanding of overall DC Comics history (and will likely hold more punch for the reveal of who we learn is actually responsible for ‘meddling’ with the universe).  It’s a celebration of that history, which also serves as a swansong – at least for now – for Johns as he spearheads the development/re-adjustment of DC’s film universe.

John’s script is emotional, nostalgic and epic in scope and DC Universe: Rebirth is brought to life by top artists Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis and Phil Jemenez (with the support from various inkers and colours by Brad Anderson and Hi_Fi).  Each has their own particular style yet work in unison to provide the book with relative visual consistency across its four chapters and epilogue and it certainly looks great where it needs to, rich and detailed throughout.

Through the course of the book’s chapters are a series of vignettes featuring characters such as Batman, the pre-Flashpoint Superman, the Atom and Blue Beetle that help set the stage for what is to come and more of which should be revealed in the various forthcoming character specific Rebirth one-shots.  Yet, in the end, it’s Wally’s story that both holds everything together and serves as the catalyst for what lies ahead.  Although his journey through the Speed Force is a tumultuous and emotional one, it’s its conclusion that conveys the overall message that DC’s Rebirth promises: hope.

The bottom line:  Together with a team of top artists, Geoff Johns presents a celebration of the past with hope for the future to usher in an exciting new dawn for the DC Comics universe with the emotionally charged and epically realised DC Universe: Rebirth.

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 is published by DC Comics and is available in print and digital formats now.

Cover art for 'DC Universe: Rebirth' #1 by stellar artist Gary Frank.

Cover art for ‘DC Universe: Rebirth’ #1 by stellar artist Gary Frank.

8 thoughts on “Comic Review: ‘DC Universe: Rebirth’ #1

  1. I think Geoff Johns did a great job with this issue, the nostalgia, the hints for what’s to come, and the characters, were all handled so well. I like how this isn’t exactly going to be a reset / reboot of the New 52 as such, more a return of those classic elements that have made DC so good in the past. I must admit, I was a bit sceptical about Rebirth as an event, but now I’m much more optimistic about it and the new comics that will soon be launched. Great review as well 🙂

      • I definitely think so, especially with bringing Geoff Johns in – he’s already said that he wants to help infuse the DC films with the same sense of optimisim that’s being aimed for with DC Rebirth. It seems also that DC want to have some synergy between the comics and the films.

      • Yes, I do think it could affect the DC films as well. Will be interesting to see if it does, especially with Rebirth brining back so many classic elements, that’s certainly something that would make the DC films better IMOP.

    • Thanks Paul and I totally agree with your thoughts, the Rebirth special has proved a very promising fresh start for the DCU. I’m glad that they’ve married the better the New 52 with classic legacy elements because I personally didn’t think the New 52 relaunch was a mistake but certainly needed some tweaking and Rebirth seems the perfect way to do that.

      • Indeed, The New 52 got a lot of things right, but there were aspects that didn’t quite work. Rebirth is a great chance for DC to restore the classic legacy that has been missing from some of their comics, and make the entire DCU stronger as a result 🙂

  2. Brooo, I just finished reading this. That ending was just toooo epic. Unforeseen and absolutely amazing. This one-shot issue revitalized my hope in this new era for DC Comics (although I have to say I’m not a fan of the logo or the design of the Rebirth title on every issue to come). Wally’s emotional run through the Speed Force was quite captivating and assures me that having Geoff Johns behind Rebirth and anything DC is something to look forward to. Absolutely awesome review once again man! 😀

    – Lashaan

    • Thanks mate! Yeah this was quite a treat, I bought the digital version but have now also pruchased a copy in print. I’ve been reading a lot of the Rebirth stuff (apologies for lack of reviews I’ll hopefully feature some titles in the coming weeks) and it’s all off to a great start, Batman and Superman in particular. I’m with you on the new logo though, pretty basic huh?

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