[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Davide Gianfelice
This issue opens with a flashback of the Flash attempting to teach Kid Flash how to vibrate through solid objects. However, Wally thinks he’s just trying to trick him into running face first into a brick wall, indicating that it’s hard to trust the Flash when he doesn’t trust Wally enough to let him know his secret identity.
In the present, The Flash, Kid Flash, and the Shade are in the Shadowlands fighting the Shade’s Shadows, to save Iris West and Hope O’Dare. Iris and Hope are possessed by the Shadows, making them direct the Shadows’ invasion of the real world.
The fight is going poorly for the heroes until the Flash gets the idea to vibrate to make himself intangible. However, the Shadows adapt whenever Barry tries to vibrate, which means he and Wally have to do it together. Unfortunately, Wally still hasn’t learned how and doesn’t want to try.
Meanwhile, the Shade is being held at the mercy of Hope and Iris. But Iris’ will is strong enough to shake off the control of the Shadows. She attempts to talk sense into Hope, but it seems she is too far gone. The Shade breaks free and grabs Hope. The Shade tells the Flash, Kid Flash, and Iris to escape through the gateway back to Earth while he keeps Hope occupied, and he will close it behind them.
There is one little moment that offers a very subtle, but possibly very significant hint about what’s going on in the DC Universe. When the Shade refers to Iris as the Flash’s “lovely wife.” Newer readers might be unaware that Barry and Iris had a marriage that lasted for several years, until being wiped away in the New 52 continuity. Some readers might just think that the Shade is trying to hint that Barry should marry Iris.
However, I think the Shade is hinting at something deeper. The Shade’s own history as shown in this story arc seems to be the same as it was at the end of the Starman series (and The Shade miniseries). That series is dependent on the existence of the Golden Age Starman, Ted Knight. This does not quite jibe with New 52 continuity, so it seems that Shade is somehow unaffected by the Flashpoint. So, when he refers to Barry and Iris’ marriage, is it because he remembers it? It seems cracks are starting to appear in the New 52 continuity.
It’s been established in the Rebirth storyline that many of the romantic relationships have been broken up by some unknown force, but Rebirth seems to be re-establishing many of them: Superman and Lois Lane, The Flash (Wally West) and Linda Park, Green Arrow and Black Canary. Happily, it looks like Barry and Iris are also on the list. Also, I’m happy that the romance between the Shade and Hope wasn’t added to the list, as the beginning of this story arc made it seem.
I can accept that Barry doesn’t want Wally to know his secret identity, but I don’t really buy into his reasoning. Yes, it may be a burden, but not quite as onerous as Barry believes it to be. I don’t see how Barry seems to equate being burdened with a big secret to his having to deal with his own mother’s death. Also, Barry has also gone through this with the older Wally. At some point he must have learned Barry’s secret and it didn’t seem to hurt him any.
Anyway, I hope this puts the issue of Kid Flash not knowing the Flash’s real name to rest for a while, as it could get quite monotonous if they dwell on it too much. This way, Wally has a reason to stop putting so much pressure on the Flash, while Barry gets to the point that he’s comfortable sharing his secret with Wally.
Once again, we see that DC is reclaiming a lot of the hope and optimism that is at the core of Barry Allen. Barry has had to go through a lot of tragedy, but at the core he’s a bright and hopeful character. This reflects the central theme of Rebirth which is seeking to do the same for the DCU in general.