It took me about a week to figure out what to title this post, but in the end I went for the minimalist, straight-to-the-point approach. I wouldn’t call this a review for a couple of reasons, the first one being that I’ve just been reading DC comics for a little over a year now, and only occasionally. Not enough to know the FULL SPAN of every single arc in Pre-Crisis, Crisis, New 52, anything else. I started with Batman, because I’ve always been a huge Batman fan from Nolan’s movie adaptations, but now I’m trying to sort of reach out and get my hands dirty in everything else. So what better time to do it than when DC’s launching their brand new series? Also, that second reason why I’m not calling this a review is because, I’m just going to talk about my feelings about this series and the characters and stuff so expect little to no critical opinion? Maybe some? Who knows?
So, finally getting started. I picked up copies of Titans: Rebirth #1 and DC Universe: Rebirth #1 last week in Edinburgh after seeing a couple of panels online of Wally West coming back. I had just finished re-watching Young Justice for the third time probably around then, so it was incredible seeing him reunite with his (slightly different) team in the Titans issue.
I really, really, reaaally loved the thematic focus on re-establishing legacies and characters’ relationships in the universe. The mystery villain, who essentially re-wrote history, had sought to break those connections, turn lovers into strangers, friends into enemies and leave them with the feeling that something was missing.
When Wally came back from the speedforce, none of his friends recognized him until he made a physical connection with each of them, sending a jolt of electricity to make them remember who he was and what they were together.
I’ve never read anything with Donna Troy in it (apart from character biographies and the like), so this issue really helped me get to know her character a little bit better and I absolutely adore her. Lilith, on the other hand, I knew nothing about. From the issue I picked up that her powers were on the telepathic-empathic spectrum. I was a little bit surprised to see that panel where her and Wally kissed, since Wally West had always been = Linda Park
In DC Universe: Rebirth #1, Wally narrates the entire opening scene, explaining how someone has altered the universe, leaving him trapped outside reality without anything to reach out for. In a familiar turn, he seeks out the Batman for his help the same way The Flash did during the events of Flashpoint. Who better to figure out what’s happening with the universe than the world’s greatest detective? As it turns out, Batman doesn’t even remember Wally, which makes him disintegrate back into the speedforce again. Oops. Lost your touch with reality once again, Walls.
He keeps trying to get people to remember him, but even Linda ‘Lightning Rod’ Park (the love of his life) couldn’t find it in her alternate universe, memory-erased self to remember Wally. The first person who does, and after a considerable struggle, is Barry Allen aka The Flash. It’s a really sweet reunion.
I’m very heavily invested in CW’s: The Flash, and despite some of its flaws I really appreciate the way they’re trying to expand the Flash family on the show, with Jesse Quick (or Wells?) and Wally West introduced in Season 2. I was hoping they would develop their powers early in Season 3, but with the current Flashpoint storyline happening I don’t know if we’ll be hitting pause with that for now. Anyway, I’m all about families reuniting through universes and all that. Here are a few panels of Wally being #dramatic before being brought back:
Calm down, Wally. We’re not getting rid of you that easily. The comic re-establishes relationships that we’ve missed during the New 52, one of my favourite panels being the one with Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance, explaining how they’ve been feeling a void in their hearts for the past ten years, not knowing what they’ve been missing – each other.
It’s just so… beautiful? Aside from the plot, universal-crisis and all that, the writing and the illustrations in this issue are poignant and full of heart. There are big moments of high-drama, like when Wally got pulled out of the speedforce and reunited with Barry, and there are smaller, more subtle moments that really gets you thinking about the nature of our world and how it works.
Sometimes you know people for your entire life and that’s what they are: people you’ve known your entire life. Other times, people drift through your life and it’s a brief yet surreal experience. I had someone who I haven’t seen for three years randomly pop into the same town I happened to be in during my vacation. He needed a place to stay and I offered spare room we had in our apartment. We had met in a three-week creative writing course, and he asked me who my favourite poet was and I answered Elizabeth Bishop. I suddenly noticed that he had set down an Elizabeth Bishop collection book on the table and we laughed at the coincidence.
He had also brought a Rilke poetry book and asked me to read all of his ten elegies, choosing which one was my favourite. They were all centered around angels and I absolutely adored them, I’ll put them down in a recommendation list somewhere soon. The imagery stuck with me all night. I had been writing a story for the past couple of weeks and those epic, intricate themes of love and divine creation just breathed new life into my writing. The next morning, when he left, my dad had been telling one of our relatives about the whole thing and the relative sent a text with the following Bible verse:
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
In less than 12 hours, my perception of the world had changed. I still think about it a lot. And I’ve never had more faith in the idea of the universe being bigger than the world we live in, whether that be by the power of God, the multiverse theory, or if magic runs through the stardust that built our bones. It’s kind of incredible the way that every time we seem to lose hope, a miracle happens and lifts you up so high you can’t even imagine how you had been on the ground for so long. It was like being at Pride in London after recent events had me feeling down, there was just so much positivity and love and this was the point I was trying to make, I think.
Comic books. Fiction. Instead of the pushing the idea that the world being beyond salvation, and that heroism has become obsolete, it’s important to convey messages of hope, of love, and of positive relationships – relationships that (and this may or may not be just fiction) literally bind the entire universe together. This is why I’m really excited by the DC: Rebirth series. It’s telling us that yes, we’re going to rebuild our damn lives even if the world is broken and yes, we’re going to find each other even if the universe is pulling us apart and yes, yes, yes one person can make all the difference. Be that lightning rod to others. Believe in the impossible. Get knocked down, get back up fighting.