Everything You Need To Know About ‘DC Universe: Rebirth’ #1
DC Comics’ big summer event one-shot DC Universe: Rebirth #1 goes on sale this week, and the internet is abuzz with news, reveals and spoilers concerning one of the biggest comics of the year. The one-shot by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Gary Frank and Ivan Reis sees the return of familiar faces from inside and outside the DC Universe, and DC is already publicizing those revelations in the press, so we’ve rounded up the biggest developments from this blockbuster story from DC-approved sources like USA Today, IGN and CBR, for those readers who want the full rundown.
If you don't want to be spoiled for any of the events of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 before the book comes out on Wednesday, go learn about some other comics you could be reading instead. Spoilers for the future of the DC Universe follow. Join us after the spoiler space.
The first huge reveal is the return of Wally West from before The New 52 publishing initiative. Following Flashpoint, the original Wally West was lost in the Speed Force and looking for someone to anchor him back to reality, but sensed that someone or something had altered reality in such a way that it eradicated friendships and relationships, making the heroes of the DC Universe weaker and perhaps more easily conquerable.
This reveal changes the landscape remarkably, because it turns out that The New 52 is not a new continuity following a crisis, but the same continuity that existed five years ago, but fundamentally altered. The characters are meant to be the same, but something fiddled with reality to change it around them.
DC seems to be very aware of the controversy that could --- and likely will --- come from return of the white Wally West after already introducing a younger, black Wally West a couple of years ago. The publisher's somewhat clunky solution for this is to say that both Wallys are actually distant cousins, rather than alternate reality versions of each other, both named after their grandfather Wallace. That may not be enough to satisfy readers who feel that the new Wally West's place in the DC Universe is diluted by having to share an identity.
The elder Wally does return in his Kid Flash costume from his Teen Titan days as opposed to The Flash costume he spent most of his career wearing, and does seem to be slightly younger than when we last saw him. According to a DC press release, his story seems will continue in Dan Abnett and Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund's Titans: Rebirth #1, on sale June 15.
Wally spends most of the issue in an incorporeal state bouncing from one hero to another, giving the reader a glimpse at their lives. Aquaman proposes to Mera, which clears up the speculation surrounding their relationship status, and Green Arrow and Black Canary meet for the first time, although both sense something --- each other --- is missing from their lives.
When The New 52 was announced, one of the promises made was that Ryan Choi would be The Atom, and although it took five years, this issue does feature the Ivy Town student receiving the size-changing belt in order to rescue his mentor Ray Palmer.
In a similar example of a mentor/student relationship being used to set up a legacy, Jaime Reyes meets with Ted Kord to learn how to pry the Blue Beetle scarab from his back, but Kord is much more interested in playing superhero. The scarab, once thought to be magic, and then retconned to be an alien weapon, is retconned again to its original state, in a meeting between Ted Kord and Doctor Fate.
The issue also gives an insight into the return of two classic DC Universe teams. First in an appearance by Johnny Thunder, who confirms the existence of the Justice Society of America at some point in the past. Secondly, a mysterious woman is brought in for questioning by the police and is seen to have a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring on her hand.
It’s not just the heroes that warrant revelations, as the aftermath of the Justice League story “Darkseid War” has huge repercussions. Darkseid himself was killed early on in the crossover, and now seems to be reincarnated in the child of Earth-3 Superwoman, and in the care of the rogue Amazon, Grail.
The big reveal of Justice League #50 is Batman’s discovery of The Joker’s true identity, and it’s nothing close to what anyone could have guessed. It turns out that there are three separate Jokers, modeled after Jerry Robinson, Brian Bolland and Greg Capullo’s takes on the character respectively. Full details of Justice League #50 haven’t emerged yet, so we’ll have to wait until Wednesday to find out more about that bizarre twist.
Elsewhere in the DC Universe, Damian Wayne turns thirteen years, old signalling his upcoming membership in the Teen Titans, and rookie Green Lantern Jessica Cruz learns about Sinestro from Hal Jordan. In a move that will delight fans of Young Justice, we see the return of Aqualad, Jackson Hyde, coming to grips with his new powers while also having to deal with a homophobic mother who does not approve of his sexuality.
Pandora --- the herald of The New 52 --- is brutally murdered in what seems to be a message to fans signalling that the New 52 era is definitively over. Wonder Woman discovers she has a long-lost twin brother, and the Justice League convene following Superman’s death in the pages of his own book. Elsewhere, the pre-Flashpoint incarnation of the character, along with his wife Lois and son Jonathan, witness the events on the news and are approached by a hooded man named Mr. Oz who claims to have revelations about the nature of the different Supermen.
In the biggest moment of the book, bigger than the return of Wally West, Batman discovers the blood splashed smiley face pin that once belonged to The Comedian, from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal Watchmen. The issue ends with dialogue from the end of the series by Doctor Manhattan, which implicates him in the meddling that fundamentally changed the DC Universe.
In an interview today with USA Today, Geoff Johns talks about the decision to introduce Doctor Manhattan into the main DC Universe as an antagonist.
“If you’re going to have a conflict between optimism and pessimism, you need to have someone who represents a cynical view of life and also has the ability to affect this. I know it’s crazy but he felt like the right character to use.”
However, it seems his role in the fate of the DCU won’t be answered straight away, as Johns mentions repeatedly that the immediate goal of DC Rebirth is to bring back the hope, optimism and love that was lost in the transition to The New 52.
If there are any further revelations to emerge from DC Universe Rebirth #1, we'll keep you updated, but for good or ill it certainly feels like the gamechanger that DC promised it would be.