This was a book I was feeling lots of mixed emotions about before it released. I am not always the biggest fan of reboots, and I was concerned that this reboot was going to be more of the same from DC. Well, in order to avoid spoilers, and to just give the broad strokes here to keep anyone from reading things they don’t want to see- I can safely say- I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Not only was it a huge book for just $2.99 (which was something that I was very pleased with once DC announced that their $2.99 price tag would be line wide, and even apply to this monstrous one-shot) but it was packed with TONS of stuff. I ended up reading up on some of the spoilers beforehand, Randy from my LCS asked me about the breaking news last week, and I broke down and read up on them more, because I was pretty intrigued by them.
So, now that you know I enjoyed this book- time to get down to brass tacks… So, from here on out, beware any and all spoilers! I will be talking frankly about the book, and wont be afraid to add some things in from outside sources (re: BleedingCool’s spoiler reveal) when I get into it. This book opens with some vague voiceover and a nicely crafted bit of story leading us five pages in before our narrator and the main focus of this story. I hadn’t realized who was talking right away either, even though there were plenty more clues right off the bat. It was pretty easy to figure out, though. And once the reveal is made, it sets the stage for our whole story in this Rebirth one-shot.
Okay, so that’s far enough in before we drop a spoiler (but, at this point, it’s probably not even a spoiler anymore… still) **SPOILERS** our narrator is Wally West, the ORIGINAL Wally West (read as: Caucasian Wally) who is being ping-ponged around the DC Universe at the whims of the Speed Force. Wally is trying to find his way back out of the Speed Force and into his Universe, but he cant seem to pull himself out. First he goes to **SPOILERS** Batman, and confronts him about the letter Thomas Wayne wrote to Batman in Flashpoint. Then we see a giant hand and lightning bolt which is alluding to the main “man behind the curtain” for Rebirth, and potentially the entire DC Universe- but more on that in a bit.
The next part is one I had to do some digging for, because I don’t know much about the Justice Society of America, or it’s cast of characters- so I didn’t realize **SPOILERS** that the old man in the story was Johnny Thunder of the Society. This makes sense, since the JSA was pretty well cast aside during the New 52, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t get more action now for Rebirth. I liked how that played out. To me it felt pretty similar to the current Moon Knight story- but not in a bad or “ripped off” sort of way- it just seems like they both could be in mental hospitals with less-than-enthusiastic caregivers and who are trying to escape and reclaim their titles and powers.
The Pandora stuff was probably most unexpected for me- mostly because she was supposed to be such a great force for change in the DCU, featured in every first issue of the New 52 first wave of books, and even got her own book and event alongside the Trinity of Sin (that I started but never finished because it just wasn’t what I was hoping for). But she’s back in Rebirth (for a moment, anyway) and she is addressing a character off screen to the reader, and **SPOILERS** is totally vaporized by this “bad guy”- though are they really a bad guy? At this point, who knows? But the thing I mentioned before, about the giant hand in a lightning bolt and the “man behind the curtain” it seems like this moment with Pandora is where we get our first REAL specific moment to figure out who they are. Brace yourselves- major spoilers here; but the way that Pandora is vaporized looks eerily similar **SPOILERS** to the way one Dr. Manhattan goes about exploding people.
That’s right, people- Dr. Manhattan is the man behind all of this way-cray-beeswax at DC. He could be responsible for ALL of the modern DC continuity and stories, for all we know (it is still FAR too early to get any specifics on the long-term impact of this). At first, when I got this bit spoiled for me, I was worried it would taint the entire Rebirth special, that the reboot would feel heavy handed and overwrought, because it seems to be the way a lot of things like this can be handled. But the whole connection between the DC Universe we know and the Watchmen-verse seems to be quite subtle and very well done.
The thing that came to mind for me regarding Rebirth and the inclusion of Watchmen and Dr. Manhattan as the catalyst for potentially creation of this whole universe, was that this is an easy way (probably, I cannot say for certain) for DC’s rights to Watchmen to be retained indefinitely. Having a character like Doctor Manhattan able to pop up in a single story, or across a few pages, or just one page or panel COULD be all DC needs to be able to retain the publishing rights to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic tale. While that seems rather insidious and more than a bit underhanded, I don’t really fault the publisher for wanting to retain the single biggest graphic novel story of all time.
There is a ton, and I do mean a TON, of story packed into this 80-page giant book. I loved the glimpses into all the different facets of the DCU- from the Legion of Super Heroes, to the Justice Society of America, to the multiple Flash’s, new Green Lanterns, Damian as Robin and on and on for the whole story. It would take me SO LONG to unpack everything in this issue- but it is safe to say that for the last story written by Geoff Johns for DC for the foreseeable future, Johns crafted his Swan Song with this story, and is setting the stage for Rebirth to do things in grand fashion, and to (hopefully) fix the mistakes of Rebirth and the New 52 and DC You.
This was a great issue, and it was a TON of story for the money. I loved reading this book, and having some of the major moments spoiled for me didn’t really detract from the book at all. The two main spoiler-y reveals that I was unsure of before I read the book seem less of an issue now that I’ve read it, mostly because **SPOILERS** the “Two Wally’s” story made enough sense, and the idea that **SPOILERS** three jokers exist in this one version of Earth means that there will be some sort of reconciliatory effort to pare down that list to just one, eventually. Again, nothing is set in stone- this is comic books after all, and things are constantly being changed, retconned, rebooted or just plain forgotten in order to tell a good story.
This was a really good story, and it sets the stage for plenty more good stories to come!