The Flash arrives in the 25th century to face Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash who has kidnapped Iris West and threatens to murder her, again. Will the Flash rescue his girlfriend and true love in time? Will history repeat itself?
It is ironic and somewhat philosophically perplexing (*here he goes with his philosophy again) to have a story about a man who remembers a past and history that is no more, whose own history has changed dramatically to the extent that it invalidates the very story and motivation of his present acts. By changing significant portions of the Reverse Flash’s history has writer Joshua Williamson created more paradoxes about the character and what he represents?
A frequent problem with comic book writers is their willingness to sacrifice good stories from the past in order to retell the same story with their own insights. Often, what they add to core stories is trivial and not worth the sacrifice. Let’s get this out of the way. Williamson’s stories are exciting and thrilling. But they do damage to the very cohesiveness of the Flash and the Reverse Flash.
Mark Waid changed the motivations of the Reverse Flash by having him turn evil after he realized that Barry Allen would one day murder him. That change stuck and was worthwhile because it added better characterization to a villain whose only motivation in earlier stories was that of a petty thief with a taste for exploiting opportunities.
Williamson kept the fanboyish obsession with Barry Allen but added the space museum clerkship to Eoboard Thawne’s background. This is not a bad addition but having Thawne turn bad because he was jealous of the attention Barry Allen gave Wally West is trivial and silly. Knowing that Allen would one day snap his neck was a more effective way to trigger his anger and hate.
In a way, with the present changing in Rebirth, the future should also change. But Eobard Thawne is supposed to know of the Pre-Crisis world because he is a time anomaly. That conditions that led to his past changed should not affect him. He is supposed to be like the Psycho-Pirate. He should be one of the few who remembers everything. Williamson’s odd retelling of the Thawne’s origin makes me wonder how much input he had in the Button storyline which addressed these very issues in the very book he’s currently writing.
Williamson appears to be a sloppy writer and to not fully grasp the toys and concepts he plays with. If he had shown some hint that he’s setting up a bigger play and that there are layers untold in his story, I would be more patient and forgiving. But it does not appear that there will be any payback. Williamson is very literal in his story and for fans of the Flash continuity and its oddities (and I’m not even near an expert on these), this story feels like blatant erasure of good work just because.
Many artists contribute to this issue and do make it good. I like that each artist was given the right section to illustrate. Carmine di Giandomenico is violent in his expression of emotions such as Barry Allen’s pain and the Reverse-Flash’s evil. Neil Googe gives the Flash and Thawne innocence and naivety. It’s lovely. Ryan Sook adds grounding and the weight of a body to the few pages that he draws. If the colourist had toned these pages with sepia or another filter it would have added to the historical feel the artist conveyed.