6 Questions That ‘The Flash: Rebirth’ Needs to Answer


This week starts the comic book event of the year, as far as I’m concerned, as the first issue of  The Flash: Rebirth by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver hits stands this Wednesday. The Flash is my favorite DC Comics character and the past few years have seen some of the most awful Flash stories of all time. I got into The Flash right before Johns’ epic run on the title in the early 2000s, and much of my enjoyment for the Scarlet Speedster has been derived from Johns’ depiction of Wally West as The Flash along with the Rogues and Keystone City.  

The Flash: Rebirth picks up the story of Barry Allen, after his return in Final Crisis. In the pantheon of characters that simply cannot be brought back from the dead, Barry Allen has resided with Jean Grey, Bucky and Jason Todd for over 20 years. Now of course, we all know that Jean Grey, Bucky and Jason Todd have all been brought back from the dead, and with great success, so why can’t Barry Allen be brought back? Johns answered a similar challenge when he returned Hal Jordan to his Green Lantern prominence in Green Lantern: Rebirth, as he salvaged the mess of Hal Jordan as Parallax, and then The Spectre. Johns has proven himself to be the best thing DC Comics has going for it these days and while I have no doubt in the fantastic-ness that he will bring to The Flash: Rebirth, I can’t help but have some concerns.

With that, I present to you the 6 Questions That The Flash: Rebirth is Going to Need to Answer:

1) What happens to Wally West?
When asked which Flashes would appear in The Flash: Rebirth, both Johns and Van Sciver have responded without hesitation, “All of them.” Once the Flash fanboy in me stopped giggling — I am happy because The Flash is one of many DC characters that have a legacy, with a large family sharing the Flash mantle — I realized something. “Wait a minute. Wally is ‘The Flash’ currently….” Now having multiple Flashes isn’t anything new, Jay Garrick (the Golden Age Flash) has kept his honorific while both Barry Allen, Wally West and Bart Allen have all held the title of “The Flash.” But Wally and Barry are different. Besides the fact that they have essentially the same costume (with minor differences), they have never been “The Flash” at the same time, with Wally stepping up to take the mantle after Barry’s “death” in Crisis on Infinite Earths and much of Wally’s story over the past 20 years has been the story of his growing maturity and acceptance into that role, with Barry even returning from the Speed Force, or the future, or wherever he may be, to bless Wally’s position as “The Flash.” Except now Barry’s back. So what happens to Wally?

The answer to this question is not simply just what costume is Wally going to wear, but much deeper than that. Johns has to make sense of the mess that Wally West has become. With his marriage to Linda and the emergence of their two children who have powers, Wally has become a shadow of his former heroic self, dragged down by having to provide for his family and deal with his (freakishly) powered kids. I’m sure Johns can sort out the costume and the mantle question, but I don’t see anyway of redeeming Wally as a character without ditching the kids. Which might be too much for even Johns to do, which means that most likely The Flash: Rebirth will lead to the fading of Wally West in prominence as he’s shuffled off somewhere (or somewhen) in the DC Universe for the time being. Which is kinda sad to me, as I grew to love The Flash as Wally West.

2) What is the status of Barry Allen’s relationship with his wife, Iris West?
Ever since Barry died in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Iris has been on a roller coaster of an emotional journey as she’s dealt with her personal loss and her stewardship of the Flash legacy. For Iris, the past 20 years or so has been a tangled web of living in the future and raising what is an astonishing number of children (both her own and adopted children of people such as Weather Wizard and others). Iris finally returned to the current time period of the DC Universe as a mysterious hooded figure who worked with Zoom to challenge Bart Allen (who had just become The Flash) to become a better hero. The challenge ultimately led to the death of Bart Allen, who was weakened and then killed by the Rogues (as much as DC would like us to forget).

As Final Crisis came to a close, Barry was able to save Iris from the Anti-Life Equation and one of the longest running (no pun intended) couples of the DCU was reunited. A very nice moment, but what I’m interested in is the long talk they have AFTER that moment. Iris sits Barry down and takes a deep breath and says, “So, I’m in the future and I…” and explains the long list of things she’s done since he died, including being somewhat responsible for the death of his grandson. That’s going to be a long and awkward conversation in which I would love to be a fly on the wall. Do Barry and Iris get to be happy together even after all that has happened? That has to be a main plot point for The Flash: Rebirth.

3) How does Barry Allen’s return affect his “sacrifice” at the end of Crisis of Infinite Earths?
The Crisis that started them all, Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s masterpiece Crisis on Infinite Earths, featured Barry Allen becoming the greatest hero there ever was by sacrificing himself to save the universe. It was this legendary death that has built up Barry Allen as the example of what it is to be a hero is in the DC Universe. How does his return affect that? Sure the sacrifice still happened, but isn’t it lessened a little bit by having him survive it? Additionally, how do the other heroes react? Are they aware of the sacrifice? Do they treat Barry differently knowing that he’s been the one who saved the universe? As usual, it’s another list of question of questions driven by a Crisis. I don’t really think Johns can bring back Barry and not have some sort of fallout/reaction to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

4)  Will Barry join the Justice League of America again?  
The latest issue of Justice League of America (issue #31) showed us the breakdown of the League as we know it. One of the pieces to fall in that breakdown was Wally West, despite rededicating himself to the League just a few issues ago, quitting so that he could attend to his family (those damn kids, again) and focus on his duties in the Titans. So with the Justice League in splinters and minus a speedster, does Barry step up as a League founder and re-join and attempt to bring back the glory of the league? They sure could use some help, especially after issue #31.

5.  And what of the Rogues Gallery? Game on?
The little taste we had of he Rogues in the excellent mini-series Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge, written by Geoff Johns with art by Scott Kolins, reminded us of one of the greatest aspects of Johns and Kolins run on The Flash years ago: the Rogues. While Mark Waid’s run on The Flash was great, he barely even used the Rogues, the collection of Flash villains including Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master and others. These villains who once seemed foolish and simple on the outside were evolved by Johns, written as complex and fascinating villains. When Johns left The Flash, no one ever was able to come close the depiction of these villains in comics. This was evidenced from their storylines in Countdown and then the story arc of The Flash where Bart Allen died where other writers put their spin on these characters and ultimately failed. It wasn’t until Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge that I realized how good the Rogues could be written and how bad they’d been depicted.

Johns laid the groundwork for The Flash: Rebirth with Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge, as the Rogues move further into darkness as they continue to break their once self-imposed rule of “no killing.” When news hit the Rogues of Barry Allen’s return, Captain Cold decided that the retirement of the Rogues would have be put on hold, as that now that Barry was back, it’s “game on” again. I found the distinction Johns made between the Rogues and how they view Wally vs. Barry. The idea that the game changes with Barry is one that raises the stakes. Personally I can’t wait to see how Johns introduces and develops the relationship between the Rogues and Barry. The question is how does Johns deal with what has happened with the Rogues in the time between when he left writing The Flash and The Flash: Rebirth. Does he ignore what was done or try to retcon or explain it, but within the context of his story?

6.  Central City or Keystone City?
For years during the Silver Age, Barry Allen, as The Flash, called Central City home. Jay Garrick protected Keystone City and as the DC Universe has moved on, we now have Central City and Keystone City as “twin cities.” Wally West has called Keystone City home, building his relationship with the local police and the now famous prison called Iron Heights. So now that Barry is back, where does he call home? Does he move back to Central City or settle in Keystone City, home of The Flash Museum?

Sure they’re right next to each other and this could be seen as a nitpick, but like Batman and Superman, the city The Flash is from has always been a driving force in the story. The old Barry Allen Silver Age stories depicted Central City as much of a city as a character as Gotham City or Metropolis. As I read and became a fan of Wally West as The Flash, I also grew to learn about, appreciate, and love Keystone City. Where The Flash calls home is as an important detail as who is behind the mask and one that should be used to drive the story.

And so that wraps up the 6 pressing questions on my mind on the eve of The Flash: Rebirth #1 being released. When Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver did Green Lantern: Rebirth, it was a bit of a sneak attack. We didn’t know what to expect and were all collectively shocked and surprised about how tight and well done it was. Now with The Flash: Rebirth, there are expectations. Those of us who love this character and believe in Geoff Johns as the creative force at DC Comics are putting our trust and hope in his hands, praying this brings back the greatness that can be found in the character of The Flash. These questions I posed aren’t a voice of wavering faith in Johns, rather just a way to organize and express the excitement I have for this title. Well, that’s not entirely true. There’s a little bit of schadenfreude in it as I’m curious to see how he untangles the mess that DC Comics has made of The Flash. But mostly I’m just excited to have good Flash stories again.

On a related note, if you enjoy The Flash as much as I do or you’d like to learn more about the legacy of Barry Allen, then you go right now to listen to one of the finest podcasts around, Tom Vs. The Flash (iTunes link). Tom Katers (also of Around Comics) is going through the entire run of the Silver Age Flash comics, issue by issue, and I swear it’s one of the funniest podcasts I’ve ever heard. Any fan of The Flash has to be listening to it, anyone who wants to know more about Barry Allen has to be listening to it, and even if you’re not a fan of The Flash it will make you laugh numerous times as you get 15 minute observations on Silver Age comics by Tom Katers.

It really is a good time to be a fan of The Flash. Let’s just hope I feel this way after The Flash: Rebirth is over….


  1. Well said. Of all the books in the last few months, this is the one I’ve been chomping at the bit for. While I don’t have as many expectations as Ron, I sure do want this to be good. At the very least, it seems Van Sciver can make it look good. Definitely the first book I’ll read this week.

  2. that’s a very interesting point. how will the heroes react knowing Bally saved the multiverse, he’s almost like DC’s jesus or something.

     i wish the real jesus could run REALLY fast

  3. Not being a Flash fan, I wouldn’t even have cared for this, even though it’s being written by one of my favorite writers. But Rogue’s Revenge has me stoked.


    Also, c’mon Ron, Rogues certainly have redeemed themselves.

  4. I’m so excited for this book that I feel like the kid in Billy Madison who is sitting on the sprinkler.

  5. Well said.  I have many of the same concerns, but primarily, what happens to Wally.  He’s the DCU character who I have identified with most since I was reading comics.  The thought of him being downgraded ala Kyle Raynor leaves me cold.  Thank god it’s Johns who is doing this.

  6. I only thing I care about is getting a good Flash story.

  7. Can’t wait to pick this up tomorrow

     (and hear what Tom has to say)

    I agree with your comment about expectations though.  GL rebirth was a knock out of the park.  Hopefully this can live up to its much (overdone?) hype

  8. These are all vaild questions, and are things that need to be addressed.  That said, I just don’t know if all of them can be addressed in this mini series.  I’m sure too that Johns has other story related questions he wants to answer that we haven’t even thought of, so we’ll see.  Either way, it will probably be a crazy excellent book.

  9. Whoah..cut myself off there.

    Captain Cold has a fixation on Barry. He has a weird respect for him in that he considers him the real deal. In Cold’s eyes Wally never replaced Barry….he was an obstacle to work your way around. Defeating Barry was a point of pride.




  10. I’m picking this up (or at least giving the issue a try) because I like Barry — from Mark Waid’s JLA: Year One and Brave & the Bold minis, and (honestly) from Tom’s podcasts, since I haven’t gotten around to reading any of the older comics yet.  I’m sympathetic to Ron’s continuity concerns, but I really do hope this is going to have a story that is worthwhile for people who are starting with this book.  I’ve got a fair amount of faith in Johns being able to juggle those concerns, but if the mini starts to look like it’s based on a laundry list of continuity problems, I’m out.

  11. i can not wait for this. i have loved barry allen as the flash. i was totally excited when they brought him back in Final Crisis but was verydisappointed when he was not very useful at all. but then my excitement was started up again when i heard that Geoff Johns was gonna rock my world with Flash: Rebirth. He did a great job of bringing Hal Jordan back as a new Green Lantern and brought him back to his roots and I am truly hoping he can do the same with The Flash!!

  12. Good questions. Though, on the Crisis on Infinite Earths point, there has always existed a "Back door’ through which Barry Allen could be resurrected. I forget quite what it is, but Wolfman has begun talking it about more frankly over the past few years. I think it had to do with Barry being able to escape from the Anti-Monitor into the future, but ultimately having to go back, as an old man, to save the day. That’s sort of what we get in Final Crisis.

  13. @rayclark: Not very useful? He helped kill Darkseid!

  14. I love Tom Vs. The Flash and I love Johns’ earlier run on the series.  Personally, I’m a Kolins man.  But Howard Porter turned in some great work on that series as well. 

    The big question that I’m wondering is just what exactly happens to Wally.  Like you said Ron, Johns did a fantastic job fleshing out Wally and solidifying him as the Flash.  So where does he go from there?  Send the kids to the future and have some fun solo adventures?  That would be crazy I guess.  And because Johns had a great handle on one Flash, does that mean he will fully understand the character of Barry Allen?  I can’t wait to find out these answers, its going to be a fantastic ride.

  15. All these articles about Geoff Johns or Flash on ifanboy recently….You know we better hope this is actually good, cause if it isnt all this hype is gonna be egg on our faces.

    To answer the questions in order however:

    1) Wally will most likely be put on a random team by some writer….He’ll just be like Jay Garrick; lost a bit of his speed but still effective as a leader. DC is most likely going to forget the last 3-4 years of the Flash series.

    2) There probably wont be any tension and they will be a happy couple again. Although I didnt know any of that stuff ron mentioned on this article….so maybe not.

    3) I dont think it’s going to ‘hurt’ his role on COIE. It happened, he sacrificed himself to save the world and his friends. Now suddenly he’s been given a second chance (ironically/accidentially by Darkseid) so now he can be with his friends and family again. Maybe they’ll go the ‘Captain Marvel’ route in Marvel where he has a religion based on him?

    4) No

    5) The Rouges will probably be more aggressive then ever before; but will have more respect for Barry….Even if they are trying to kill him or stop him.

    6) Does it really matter? Really?

  16. @TheNextChampion:  No.6 absolutely mattters for all the reasons Ron said and because if Barry’s the main Flash is he going to just not care about Keystone at all? Is it going to be second fiddle to Central because he’ll expect Wally and Jay to handle it and it wont really be worth his time.  Keystone is enormously important to the Flash mythos at this point and to push it to the side just like that really pisses away all the effort to make the city (one of) the Flash’s home(s).

  17. @Heroville: Keystone is Wally’s home, not Barry’s.  I’m really hoping we go back to Central City.  I’ve missed it.

  18. @Heroville: Maybe Barry will stay at Central City and Wally stays at Keystone? I mean again….I dont think it’s that important…

  19. @TNC: It may not be important for you, but for most Flash fans it’s absolutely important.

  20. Most of these concerns might have been leveled prior to Green Lantern: Rebirth. The artistry that Johns used in that book was to highlight the differences between the GL characters (and the physical depictions of those differences were incredibly beautiful). In fact, I came out of that series having greater appreciation for Jon, Kyle, and Hal.

    I am not a regular Flash reader, so I do not know whether similar differences can be identified for the various Flashes (other than the fact that Barry is the fastest). However, this is the kind of challenge for which Johns always seems to shine.

  21. I have never read The Flash before, but I look forward to anything Geoff Johns does. It’s his Sinestro Coprs War that got me into Green Lantern and by extension DC Comics in general. I never read DC before Sinestro Corps War.

    That’s what makes Johns such a great writer. I can only imagine all of the other readers who have had a similar experience as me.

  22. @Xebix:  I AM that experience.

  23. Well what is the huge difference between the cities? Cause again, I am not a huge Flash fan so I dont know much about Barry or Wally….just Jay Garrick

    *sighs* I wish Jay got this much advertisement…

  24. tom rocks that podcast

  25. @TNC-So you say it doesn’t matter…but then admit that you are not a huge fan??  The simple fact is that if you had read the previous work you would know why the cities are so important to the Flash mythos.  But even if you hadn’t read them, Ron spells it out for you right in his article.  Just like Gotham or Metropolis are important characters in the books, so are the twin cities.

  26. I really don’t buy into fixing Wally by getting rid of the kids. Yes, the focus should be shifted abck to him and yes, they really need to depower the kids but I for one think that having Wally as a father and a provider for his family is the next step in the evolution of the character. Yes, it hasn’t beenhandled all that well but I think that there’s still loads of petential. After all, Wally has lived pretty much his entire life in the very surrelaistic superhero world that I think it would be a really interesting examination and evolution of the character of Wally West to have him face "mundane" issues like making money and helping to raise his kids.

  27. Also, and call me ignorant (please don’t, actually), but have we seen Piper recently?  He returned to Gotham at the end of Countdown and swore to make a difference, and then we saw him in Rogue’s Revenge.  Did I miss anything there?  He’s a very interesting and nuanced character caught in a really ugly place and I’m curious how all the Flashes would/may deal with him.  Thoughts?


    (oh, and if Piper appeared elsewhere and I missed it, would you mind shouting out where?)

  28. I hope Tom does Tom Vs. Rebirth.

  29. @drake: I’m sorry, I ment to say I am not a huge Barry/Wall fan. I am a huge fan of Jay Garrick. But if your asking me if I am a huge Flash fan overall….then he doesnt even come close to like my top 3 favorite superheroes. Probably in the low part of a top 10.

  30. I’m hoping Wally isn’t downgraded, though it seems inevitable. I’d be delighted were he and Bazza on an equal footing, protecting their respective cities.

  31. I’m wondering how much relative time has passed for Iris at this point since Barry’s "death". It seems like even with comic book time compression it would still have to have been a significant amount.

  32. @ ANYONE…. I’m psyched for Rebirth but LOST when it comes to differentiating between Barry, Bart and Wally West. So.. in a nutshell what are the main differences between the 3? First costume wise then personality wise, PLEASE 🙁

    Yeah I know I can wiki this stuff but prefer a fanboy’s response


  33. cannot wait …………welcome back barry ……..goodbye wally

  34. @Jesse1125: Costume-wise they’re very similar.  The main differences are in the mask and belt:

    Barry’s belt is always straight around the waist, and the eyes are always open.

    Wally started out wearing the same costume as Barry, then changed to a revised version that had a V-shaped belt, white lenses over the eyes, and was shinier.  Over time he dropped the lenses and went back to the non-shiny costume

    Bart has worn both designs during his brief career as the Flash.


    Barry is a scientist. He’s methodical, thinks things through, and uses his knowledge of physics and chemistry as part of his strategy.

    Wally is more hotheaded (though less so than he was at the start of his career) and is more likely to try first to physically subdue his opponent, then fall back on strategy if that fails.

    Bart is very impulsive, and will generally do the first thing that pops into his head without thinking ti through.

    So there’s sort of a spectrum

  35. @ kelson…. Thank you ….now maybe I can pick them out of a lineup or tell who’s who by their dialogue( Flash noob)

  36. @TNC & @conor I’ll throw my hat in the ring as a Flash fan who doesn’t care what city Barry ends up in. Logic would say with Four Flashes it’ll be two and two (This of course supposes all four survive the mini/stay in the present). If I’m not mistaken Wally and Jay are both from Keystone and Barry is from Central City. Did Bart grow up in "future Central City?" But no matter how you slice it, both cities are important to the Flash legacy, if not the individual Flashes. DC did a pretty smart thing in making them twin cities.

    I have to say, one of the thing that excites me the most about this project is the amount of "Flash Noobs" I’ve seen here and other sites checking this series out. It’s great to see new fan bases about to meet one of my favorite characters and character concepts. (Yes, I know he’s a man who runs fast and that’s not terribly original!) My return to comics in 2001 has seen the revival and rebirth (literally and figuratively) of my three favorite Comic Heroes. (Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen & Barry Allen)

  37. @Prax: Well I understand it’s important in the aspect of it’s both of his cities. I mean Batman has Gotham and Superman has Metropolis.

    But if someone is gonna sit there and tell me that in the long run it’s that big of a deal then I’d roll my eyes. Besides they both are right in the middle of America. Cities all look the same down there.

  38. Seeing as DC is putting an army of Batbooks and a decent slew of Superman books, isn’t it possible that a couple of Flash books will spin out of this? GL Rebirth launched two books (although, one came out a bit later than the other.) As someone who is kinda new to the flash (I’m working my way through Johns’ run.) I was wondering if this is a possibility, and if anyone would be willing to read multiple Flash titles centering on different speedsters?

  39. The big one for me is Where’s Wally? What will they do with him? Can both Barry & Wally be called "The Flash at the same time? I have a bad feeling about this. I think Wally will either be killed, lose his powers, or go off into the future with his new wacky family & be forgotten. But. I hope I’m wrong, because Wally is awesome, & the only reason he’s being shafted is to make money with "Barry’ Return". Wally has earned his spot as THE Flash, he deserves it & I don’t agree with DC’s choice to bring back Barry … but. I’m still buying Rebirth, so colour me a sucker 😛

  40. I think Wally should go back to being Kid Flash.

    There.  I said it.

  41. @conor. Do you expect him to be called Kid Flash, Impulse or some other physics term? I know he was never Impulse, it was just the first thing that came to mind. He seems a bit old to call "kid." Probably gonna need a new name for him if they don’t want him to be "The Flash" anymore.

  42. Kid Flash!

  43. Lil’ Flash?

  44. so wally related to barry by marriage right? he’s iris’ kid, yeah?

     Kid Conor! call him Kid Conor


  45. @edward: Wally is Iris’ nephew.

  46. We just had Bart Allen resurrected in Legion of Three Worlds, and resurrected in the Kid Flash costume. Which I’m so excited for.

  47. Yeah but why do I have a feeling that the ending to Legion is about to be spoiled in Rebirth. By the way Connor as someone who owns every issue of Impulse and never recovered from the travesty done to him by Johns (admittedly in large part due to editorial fiat) from Titans on I think the seventh question should be what about Bart. After the recording the Ethan Van Sciver Panel for Phoenix Comicon and hearing him just gush about one of my three favorite DC characters (for the record the other 2 are Cassandra Cain/Batgirl and Kyle Rayner/Green Lantern) I at least have some hope that this time he will be treated right. Although if they bring back #4 character Max Mercury just to kill him again, well…

  48. @KID Conor: so why does Barry care? i barely acknowledge my girlfriend’s sister’s kids

  49. and that’s why edward will never be a superhero.

  50. Looks like Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver’s next project is "Vibe: Rebirth" coming in December.

    Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver talk ‘Vibe: Rebirth’

    After Flash, It’s Vibe: Rebirth – Dan Didio Comments


  51. @Conor: Kid Flash? That’s an April Fools joke, right? RIGHT?

    Also, forget Kid Flash. Bart Allen should really go back to being Impulse and, you know, a decent character again.

  52. Definitely, Geoff Johns totally blanded out Bart. I want Impulse, the big-footed kid who acts before he thinks, but when he thinks, it’s in rebuses.

  53. Yup, I like most of what Geoff has written but I absolutely despised what he did with Bart. Once he put on that Kid Flash suit he pretty much became a completely different character – one that was a whole lot less interesting, fun and funny than what he was before.

  54. @Ilash: It’s not a joke.  In my dream world Barry is The Flash, Wally is Kid Flash, and I guess we can keep Bart around as Impulse.

  55. Yeah, except that Wally’s been the Flash for 20 years so reverting him to Kid Flash status would be a total disservice to the character – and his fans. Wally West hasn’t been a sidekick for decades, you can’t make him one now, surely?

  56. @Ilash: You can do anything you want. It’s comics.

  57. Oh yeah, and there’s also that minor quibble that he’s not a kid!

  58. That Vibe: Rebirth thing is totally an April Fool’s joke.

  59. what of Bart? how’s he gonna come into play?

  60. Don’t understand the opinion that Wally’s wife and kids have dragged him down to a shadow of his former heroic self. If anything having that much to lose at home and still doing what he does makes him more heroic. I honestly hope all the members of Wally’s family stick around (possibly depowering the kids because they were a bit freaky). When it comes down to it, it wasn’t the situation that was bad in the previous run it was just really badly executed by the creators. 


  62. The Flash having kids just brings up images of very fast sex and very fast semen and genitalia road burn and a really fast conceiving. The pregnancy must have been hell – the flash hurrying her up, the kids just pop out of their really really fast etc. .hmm.