Well, after months of speculation and debate, with various art appearing on the internet and of course, following “that” leak from last week, the long wait is over. Rebirth #1 is finally here. Was it really worth the wait?
This is a time of relative peace, where the heroes of the DC universe contemplate the ramifications from both Justice League #50 and Superman #52. Why did the chair give that answer? Where is Superman? Witness to all this, and our voice throughout the issue, is a long gone hero who has since been replaced. A hero with a long standing connection to a number of people, even if some of the links do seem a tad tenuous. As he visits each hero, giving advice and ethereal and cryptic warnings, he hopes that just one person will remember him and tether him to the real world. During his journey, we see the Rebirth through his eyes, through his memories of what was there before. Most of all, we hear the ominous words that “someone is watching.”
Geoff Johns is in full on epic mode. He weaves a story that has a certain logic, a certain intractable certainty of events that despite the potential for “what the frak!!!” you buy into the various elements up to and including the inference of the big bad. Johns has been true to his word. This book isn’t a restart, the reset button hasn’t been passed. There is a sense of continuation from the New 52. The word “Rebirth” has it’s own connotations in other examples of John’s work. Here, think of the DC universe like a crumpled shirt; Rebirth is the iron to get rid of all the creases. The narration of the piece works brilliantly, catching the essence of the returning character well and the impact that this has on a certain hero who has had his own share of being lost. No one knows the DC characters as much as Johns, so some of the heroes that are visited by the “ghost of a hero past” are surprising, especially as others that you would think had more impact or more resonance or even more chance of creating that much needed connection are giving the most fleetest of visits.
The art duties on this over sized book falls to a cast of classic styled artists; Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis and Phil Jimenez. Now, regular readers of my reviews will know how I feel about a multitude of creators working on a single book. For the most part, I am standing by my convictions. That said, it is great to see the new Wonder Woman artist, Gary Frank, show the world what we have been missing during his sabbatical from comics. In addition, Van Sciver and Reis have done some great work on various DC books, covering a lot of heroes which comes in handy through this book. Phil Jimenez rounds out the group who is no slouch. Between them, they deliver some fantastic pieces on a number of character, the highlight being the ultimate connection of the lost hero finally getting home. In fact, looking through the book, the only character that seems to get a rough ride artistically is Batman. It’s as if the gang are at a loss of how to present Batman to the audience. This may be due there not being a lot of reference material of the new costume or it could be that we are just so used to Greg Capullo. Whatever the reason, the look is a little jarring in comparison to the other pieces within the book. Along with a cast of artist, there is practically a coven of colorists involved, each one adding to the collective ambience of this issue.
Reality check: is this a great book? Cynics may well say that is book is just a catalogue piece. The use of a wandering soul touching base serves to highlight what is still yet to come. Furthermore, with the leak generating views of what potentially could be crippling news, caused quite the opposite as every comic fan was talking about Rebirth last weekend. In the cold hard light of day, I can see why people would feel jaded. The ironing out of the universe will still allow for some creases to show and yes that cast of many tends to cycle through quickly. But have a second look. Geoff Johns has delivered everything that he promised. There is the fact that this is continuation, where New 52 was the story rather than a function of how to tell a story. There is the promise of the Legacy characters, with the re-introduction of classic characters and classic looks and my favourite name check of all time. Finally, DC have pulled out all the stops regarding the talent on the book.
The book may well be a preview of future events, but it is done with style, strong characters and a massive amount of heart. Well done DC and well done Geoff Johns.
Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
STORY BY Geoff Johns
ART BY Gary Frank, Ivan Reis, Ethan Van Sciver, COVER BY Gary Frank
PUBLISHER DC Comics