With its release two weeks ago, Flash: Rebirth #1 by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver has been flying off the shelves. It sold through its first printing quick as a—well, you know—and is heading to the shelves for a second right around the time that the second issue hits. Still, the book has had a fairly lukewarm critical response, with more readers and reviewers wondering aloud whether Johns can capture Barry Allen’s Silver Age magic than they ever did when this same creative team set their sights on restoring Hal Jordan to his former glory in Green Lantern: Rebirth a few years ago.
Van Sciver sat down with Comic Related to discuss the first issue of the series, address what many fans perceive as a strange characterization of its central hero, and tease a little of what’s to come.
Comic Related: So first off, is there any plan, with all the Flashes involved in this series, to differentiate the power usage like you did on Green Lantern: Rebirth?
Ethan Van Sciver: Maybe slightly, just because certain parts of different costumes "draw lightning" in varied ways, but the speed force doesn't respond to personality the way Lantern rings do.
CR: That's a cool note. Is it just me or did Barry seem like kind of a jerk this issue? Maybe he was just trying to be more focused but he did seem very dismissive of Hal, and of everyone's good intentions.
EVS: I'm not sure he was dismissive of Hal. In fact, he seemed very happy to see his old buddy again, and they shared some good-natured quips back and forth. I think he was dismissive of Hal's idea that his return, his conquering of death, was a good thing, and that now it was party time. Something is nagging at him...
CR: Is it safe to say he seems to be the new Black Flash?
EVS: Keep reading!
CR: (As an aside, there seems to be a connection between Barry--brought back and thinking it's bad for the universe--and Michelle Carter in Booster Gold doing the same. And Geoff just came off that book.)
EVS: Oh, that's interesting.
CR: Is this the last we'll see of Savitar? He was one of the Waid/Dezago era's great Flash villains
EVS: Savitar is dead, yes.
CR: For what death is worth in comics, of course. Is Barry here the voice of the series or are we intended to be a little critical of his cynicism?
EVS: The reader can draw his own conclusions, but again, I don't think it's cynicism on Barry's part, but a sense that something is very wrong. We're not seeing the Barry we're used to here, and there's a reason for that.
CR: Now, one thing in terms of art only--how did you approch this issue? Where Barry himself is kind of the representative of the Silver Age, the content of this book is very much a product of the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths age and Barry's look here kind of reflects both
CR: And structurally, what's the big difference between this and the Green Lantern: Rebirth series? The last was Hal's redemption and obviously this one has an element of Barry's as well in terms of bringing him back from the brink into the fold. Is the panel structure discernibly different from Green Lantern: Rebirth or anything?
EVS: Answering your last question: Geoff is saying that this is kind of the opposite of the approach that he took in Green Lantern: Rebirth--and it needs to be, because Hal Jordan returned as a sinner and Barry a saint. So aside from the title being the same, there isn't really a through line, other than revitalizing two beloved Silver Age icons and prepping them for modern day stories. I haven't thought much about tying the two together visually for that reason. This is a Flash story. A big one. And I'm thinking about it on its own.
CR: From the first issue it seems like there's some inspiration being drawn from Identity Crisis. How are we going to differentiate this book from what's come before it?
EVS: Where do you see inspiration being drawing from Identity Crisis?
CR: Maybe not inspiration as much as—what did you say? A through line. Just starting the series with a graphic murder sequence. Maybe that's assuming too much
EVS: Interesting! I've started lots of books with graphic murder sequences, but they were all Cyberfrog stories, so I guess I'm sort of numb to that kind of violence! But I think by issue #3 your question will be answered.
CR: Do you feel any pressure creating a "new" look for an iconic character like Barry?
With this issue's retcons and the general tenor of the book, he certainly seems a little darker than he was.
EVS: Well, I'm not sure I've given Barry a new look. I'm drawing him the way I've always seen him, although I've heard from a few Flash fans that they prefer a more slender build on him. As for his costume, it's as classic as ever!
CR: Speaking of costumes—and based on the last couple pages--will we see Jesse Quick/Liberty Belle bought back into the Speedster fold? If so, did you get to create a new costume?
EVS: Could be! Might have!
CR: heh. For those of us who are Impulse fans, can you promise that Max won't be an "aren't we edgy?" sacrificial lamb a la Savitar?
CR: heh. I know enough to move along after that answer! Will we get to see Ethan Van Sciver, Artist Extraordinaire, draw any more characters from the DCU besides this issue's cameos?
EVS: How about the JLA? See issue #3!
CR: Good to hear! Whose idea was it--yours or Geoff's--to have the covers be reminiscent of classic DCU books?
EVS: The second cover, you mean? I think it's the only tribute cover I've done for this series. Geoff wanted me to draw Flash running while the other speedsters suffered in the background. This seemed like a fun way to accomplish that idea and more!