By Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Phil Jimenez, Matt Santorelli, Gabe Eltaeb, and Nick Napolitano.
**Spoiler-Free review of DC Universe Rebirth #1**
Okay everyone, the wait is finally over. DC Universe Rebirth #1 is here and it is, in all honesty, everything you want it to be and then some. All the spoilers across the Internet, all the midnight release parties at comic shops over the globe, and all the speculation among comic fans everywhere have all lead to this moment in comic history. The DC Universe is being reset, again. However, this time feels slightly different from other re-launches because it seems that DC has a plan. This book is what a comic lover’s dreams are made of with characters back from the dead, mysterious bad guys, time travel, ominous future crossovers, and plenty of heart wrenching moments. The book will be polarizing in light of the current state of DC Comics; some people are going to love this book and be excited about all the new titles spawning from this while others will not fall back in love with DC so easily. So many people have been burned before by DC and other attempts at resetting the Universe (New 52 anyone?) that it might be too late to win back some readers, but they are sure going to capture some new ones after this book. This is what loving comics is all about.
This issue is divided into four chapters (“Lost”, “Legacy”, “Love”, and “Life”) and concludes with an epilogue. Each chapter has a different creative team attached to it, but the overall writing credits go to Geoff Johns for the entire book. Johns had a story to tell in this book, which he carefully laid out over each chapter and built up and teased until the very last page of the last chapter. The big reveal is certainly worth all the hype surrounding this book alone. The last page of the chapter “Life” will forever change DC Comics, and we have Mr. Johns to thank for that because it will be for the better in this reviewer’s opinion. The page is so simple, just a single character finding something that belongs to another character, but the impact from that moment is huge. The implications and speculations are tremendous and can certainly build so many great future story arcs. By the time you are reading the epilogue your jaw will be smacking the ground because unless you read any of the numerous spoilers out there, this is big and no one could have seen this coming.
This book was written to have all the vital elements every comic reader wants in a comic like big hero moments, little hero moments, big set ups for future story lines, intertwining stories between heroes, and maybe. most importantly. love. Johns literally takes you through a journey throughout the oversized book, which was only $2.99 – (talk about bang for your buck!) – where you are laughing, crying, excited, and finally, shocked along with the story as it progresses. There is a single character narrating the story along with the reader and it allows for an overarching consistent voice amongst the many different stories that are told. Even the character that is narrating is a big deal, but there will be no spoilers here. The narration is sprinkled around a lot of dialogue, but the narration is really the heart of this story providing clues to what is next while also making accurate, poignant, and sometimes even meta, observations concerning current DC characters.
The different creative teams featured in this issue really came together to deliver a book that had a cohesive feel between colors, lines, and character design that also perfectly captured the feel and story of each chapter. The four pencillers on this issue are Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, and Phil Jimenez. Collectively they form a powerhouse creative team, but when you add a storytelling genius like Johns it becomes something special. The four artists really came together to deliver a book that is consistent in both the pacing and structure of each page that it all reads really fluidly. Something really great about the art in this book is the reactionary shots of characters, like tight close-ups that really grab the emotion and bring the reader right into the character’s head space. We are taken on this intense emotional roller coaster along with our narrator as we not only read his inner dialogue through narration, but there is also such great facial expressions drawn out over the course of the book.
The colors throughout this book also added to the pacing build up to each moment and provide a clear and consistent artistic vision to the book. Most of the coloring was done by Brad Anderson, with assistance from Hi-Fi, Joe Prado, Jason Wright, and Gabe Eltaeb. The color was the glue between all the artists that kept the art in a single vision. There was a classic feel to the colors shown in the book and maybe it was because there was a lot of primary color use, but it was refreshing to see. The narrator is followed from panel to panel with a certain background that each colorist completely nails and captures the feel of the growing desperation and emotion that passes with every page.
DC Universe Rebirth #1 really did the unexpected and some may even say the impossible: it built excitement for the future of DC Comics. This comic was everything you want to see from a great comic and the hype surrounding this title release really built this book up. Impressively, the book certainly lived up to any and all expectations surrounding it and will certainly change the way DC is looked at in the comic world. Undoubtedly, this launch can be looked at as a positive for attracting many new readers just out of curiosity for what will happen to the well known DC characters. This book is a an effective jumping-on point for new readers eager to explore a the latest take on this universe and is also a much-needed addition to any veteran comic-lover’s collection. DC has really set themselves up in a great position to deliver great stories in all the title releases that stem from this book. Yes, DC Universe Rebirth #1 was a great example of comic storytelling, but all of that could be undone with a few poorly written stories that fall short of expectations. DC has gone through a prat fall effect, where readers expect so little because of repeated past blunders, but this could be the starting point of something not just good, but truly great.