May 28, 2016

DC Universe Rebirth - Review

I'm a huge DC Comics fan. I grew up with Superman and Batman stories. Gotham City and Metropolis were my refuge when real world was too tough to handle. As every DC admirer and/or follower, I was very disappointed with the whole New 52 reboot. First, all my favorite heroes had lost their identities. The storylines that helped build the characters' substance, suddenly, were not there anymore. Other characters, on the other hand, didn't even have a chance in this relaunch and were simply forgotten. They were gone without a proper goodbye. DC's fresh start came with a very bitter aftertaste.

Emblematic heroes like the Society of Justice and Wally West never existed in this new moment. Superman and the other heroes were only active for the previous five years. In this five years Superman had lost his adoptive parents and became a type of bully, while Batman had time to fully train four Robins (and Jason Todd even died and came back!!!). It was a big mess that was growing and growing until the point sales start dropping and dropping. That was when they decided they had to do something about it. A new reboot would be a mistake, we all agree with that. Geoff Johns came up with the idea to bring back everything that was loved about the DC Universe, but in a coherent way. Back to basics, let's put it that way. 

And then the Rebirth idea was developed.

DC Universe Rebirth Special is, all in all, a 80-page apology letter to fans. A mea culpa where DC accepts it made a mistake, but it's ready to correct it and needs the fans to come together in this journey. And you know what? They were just waiting for the proper invitation. This issue is everything a real DC fan was waiting for and, with no shadow of a doubt, the best DC Comics story in years. Geoff Johns wrote something that deserves to be called a masterpiece.

In the first pages a mysterious narrator is telling a story. At a certain point he says something that sums up all of our feelings: "...I love this world. But there's something missing.". The narrator is no other than pre-New 52 Wally West, who got stuck in the Speed Force and has been observing the world that totally forgot about him, while trying to find a way to come back. He tries to get help from Bruce Wayne, but it doesn't work as he expected. Thinking about his next move, he tells his story: A story of a whole universe he was part of, since he became Kid Flash, took part in the Teen Titans and eventually became the Flash, when Barry Allen died during the Crisis. A whole History that was lost, but he is working to bring back.

While Wally is trying to escape the Speed Force, that keeps pulling him back, to deliver a message, characters we believed were gone like Ray Palmer and Ted Kord, who now is going to act as the Blue Beetle/Jaime Reyes' mentor, start showing up again. They were always there, in fact. Actually, everything was always there. Like the connection between Green Arrow and Black Canary who, during the whole New 52 run, were completely strange to each other even though they were married in the previous reality. Wally says that even though they live these new lives, every time they look at each there's a spark none of them is able to understand. Both of them feel they lost something precious, but cannot remember what. Wally himself misses Linda Park, the love of his life, and as he tries to get in touch with her... She doesn't know who he is, which is frustrating. He fights the Speed Force to try to talk to the ones he knows: Captain Boomerang, Victor Stone, Dick Grayson... Unsuccessfully.

As he loses his hope, he talks about his cousin... The black Wally West. Yes, there were always two Wally Wests, even in the pre-New 52 world, but only one of them was a speedster then. And talking about speedsters, Wally decides to find Barry Allen for a last goodbye since he realizes no one is able to remember him. And that's one of the most beautiful moments of this issue: It takes a while, but... Barry does remember him. And by remembering Wally he's able to pull him back from the Speed Force in one of the most emotional moments I've seen in a comic book. And with Wally back, Barry remembers everything that happened, but before he can blame himself, Wally tell him he's sure the Flashpoint event was not the responsible for what is going on with the heroes. Someone, something, is out there playing games with them, taking from them their memories, relationships and experiences to make them weak.

And that's when the epilogue shows us the one behind it all: Dr. Manhattan, from the Watchmen reality (only behind the scenes, though). Bringing those characters to the mainstream reality, I would say, was a a very bold move from DC. A bold move that blends perfectly with what's is about to happens (there's a huge plot to be developed throughout two years in all the new issues). Alan Moore's Watchmen is one of the most appreciated works in the comics existence, but it took place in a different world. Now they will be playing an important role for the new DC that is born; this time for both younger and older readers.

If you abandoned DC after the New 52 release or a little after you realize there was no way it would work, well, now is the time for you to come back home. DC Universe Rebirth is a great starting point.
And it is paving the way for an even better universe.

The cast of heroes for the new DC Comics


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