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Thursday, November 19, 2009 

Flash Rebirth 5: finally, an explanation

The fifth issue of Flash: Rebirth has finally, after 3 months of delay, gone to press, and they belatedly give us an explanation for why the retcon: as the following review on Speed Force tells:
We now know that Professor Zoom went back in time, killed Nora Allen, and framed her husband for it. Or rather, we now know for sure. Not only that, but he’s been jumping through time, messing with Barry throughout his life: pushing him down the stairs, burning down his house, letting his dog out to get hit by a car, and probably drinking the last of the milk when little Barry could really use something to wash down those cookies. Eobard Thawne is a mean, petty, vindictive bastard. But then, he has a history of obsessing over Barry Allen and stalking Iris.

So any discrepancies in the flashbacks, from the blazingly obvious (weren’t Barry’s parents alive?) to the not so clear (weren’t Barry and Iris already dating by the time he got his powers?) can be explained away by Professor Zoom traveling through time.

That doesn’t make them any less retcons, though, unless Barry finds a way to *ahem* reverse them all next issue. It just makes them retcons with in-story explanations…just like retcons explained by Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis, etc.

It also doesn’t make them any less cliche. There are plenty of super-heroes out there who have childhood traumas associated with the death of a parent (or both parents). It still seems pointless to tack on that kind of trauma to the Flash.
This is correct. It's still a retcon, and a cliche. Especially if it remains intact after this is over. But even if Geoff Johns does revert things back to normal at the end, which is possible,* that's not going to wipe away the bad taste this was done in, nor how it's a cheap replacement for real storytelling. I thought to myself earlier that, even if Johns is just pulling our leg, it's still not appropriate, because of how this kind of plotting laced with violence has taken the place of decent storytelling. Besides, the story was padded out for trades, when it could've been told in just 3-4 issues, and been written with brisker pace.

It's also worth noting that Johns suggested earlier that Barry Allen would be going through darker storylines as a forensics scientist, which tells that even if the end of this miniseries isn't a darkness-laden stinker, there's still going to be potentially gruesome storylines waiting in the wings, just like a lot of Johns's other past works at DC, the Flash included.

I've wondered if the reason this took so long to come out is not because Ethan Van Sciver is a slow artist, but rather, because they decided to change the storyline when they realized the audience was unlikely to accept something vicious for Barry's background. Obviously, we'll never know, but considering there were originally supposed to be just 5 issues for this mini, it's probably worth wondering.

* I'd like to think this is what'll happen at the end of Blackest Night, but even if it does happen, that's not going to excuse how DC wasted more than 5 years with limp storylines and other dreadful ideas.

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