(Note: Like my “Road to Rebirth” post, this was supposed to come out the week of May 25th, as I wrote the first draft of this immediately after reading Rebirth #1. But, life took over my plans so it’s coming out today instead, but written as if it was immediately after)
My mind’s still trying to process everything about Rebirth—my feelings, the plot, the ramifications, the revelations, how amazing it was/is…. I’m sort of left a little speechless; it’s taken me a while to try to put my thoughts into words, partly because of how insanely excited I was.
Just to get it out of the way: Rebirth definitely met and even exceeded my expectations. That on its own is pretty incredible because of my level of expectation/excitement, and I’m still trying to process how that was possible.
As a super quick non-spoiler review: 10/10 if you want a number rating, incredibly amazing and fully enjoyable—just makes me so excited for the future of the DCU. I literally cannot wait to read every single comic coming out of this.
But there’s really no way to talk about this without spoilers, so click away if you haven’t read it. And let me just say, this is DEFINITELY a book you don’t want spoiled (which, just a quick aside, it’s really sad how it was spoiled early—this is why we can’t have nice things).
So, Spoilers Ahead!
First off, it’s incredible this even got made. The whole story is a not-so-well-hidden apology, in a way, for the New 52. Now, as a fairly new fan of comics I actually really liked the New 52 at first as it was a good jumping on point, and as a fan of comic films/TV shows the N52 was definitely familiar, which made it easier to jump in. What I’ve begun to notice, though, like the narrator of Rebirth, “There’s something missing.” I didn’t realize for a long time all the history, legacy, hope, and brightness that was missing from the New 52, and once I started to realize that, I definitely missed it. And so it’s amazing that Johns was able to apologize for all that, in a way—it puts so much faith and good will towards DC again.
Rebirth started as the book that I didn’t know I wanted and needed, but turned into really cementing itself into what I’ve needed my whole life. I’ve needed that history and legacy back (even if I didn’t know that until now), and I’ve needed to experience all of that history long before now, and this gives that to me. The whole comic is an incredibly meta story talking frankly about what’s missing from the DCU since the N52 and what’s needed in the universe going forward. And that’s amazing.
I’m going to be using words like “amazing, incredible, etc.” a lot, but that’s because I’m still just too giddy to say it any other way. And what’s also amazing is, despite all history contained within the story, it’s still very accessible. I, a fairly new fan and not having read any of the Crises, or Flashpoint, etc., understood most of what was contained in the story. And what I didn’t understand didn’t damper my enjoyment. And it’s even more accessible than that: my girlfriend, for example, really enjoys comics, but hasn’t read many and isn’t into them as much as I am. As the biggest example, she hasn’t even read Watchmen, and as such didn’t understand all the ramifications from that storyline. Yet, she loved Rebirth before she knew anything about the revelation. She actually read it before me in the car as I was driving, and watching her reactions (she was careful not to spoil anything) was amazing—something this dense and rich made sense to someone who is very unfamiliar with the bigger picture, and not just made since, but allowed her to love it. That’s amazing.
I just remember that as soon as she finished she had a huge smile and said how she wanted to read all the new comics coming out of Rebirth (I was already going to get at least every single #1, but she wasn’t really excited to read any of them particularly). Which is really, really incredible. That’s how much hope and heart Johns injected into the story: even “new” readers like my girlfriend were super excited to read more. That honestly boggles my mind how he was able to do that, as I’ve heard experienced readers had a similar reaction in terms of their enjoyment and love.
And I can say that, for myself, it definitely had a similar effect. I was really looking forward to all the comics coming out of Rebirth and already planning to buy all the #1s. But a lot of that was because I wanted to get more into the DCU and just try out everything to see what I liked, as I did with Marvel’s All-New, All Different reboot. And that’s definitely still true, but I also just can’t wait to read all of them, not just to experience everything, but because how excited Rebirth #1 made me about reading everything, just like it did to my girlfriend.
I also mentioned in my anticipation post that I haven’t read any of the Crises before, but that I’ve always been wanting to dive into the history of DC but felt pressured because of how much there was, and now Rebirth allows for that to happen without any pressure. I’m so, so excited for the future of the DCU, but I’m also really excited for the past. It was hard trying to get into it just because of how much history there is and not knowing where to start, but now I can just slowly make my way through it cause I have the Rebirth “universe” (which is, thankfully, the same universe) to dive head-first into, and the past to dive into with no pressure and at my own pace.
Which is, again, the great thing about this comic. It seems to be equally for new and old fans alike, and everyone in between, and actually works for all of those demographics, unlike many comics that try to. It gives old fans something to look forward to again, and new fans something to latch onto that allows them to look forward to both the future and past. I can’t wait to go back to that past now, and it’s no longer daunting thanks to what’s coming soon that sates my immediate desire.
Now, of course we have to talk about all the revelations and ramifications. I’ll start with the Watchmen tie-in, because it’s brilliant. I really should have realized it sooner—the first page with Watchmen-esque panels, the watch faces, the way Pandora dies, etc.—but I didn’t, and I love that. I even saw a picture of Dr. Manhattan in a spoiler article by accident but wrote it off as something completely unrelated so I was still surprised when I read it. I really do think the Dr. Manhattan tie-in was a great choice, as it really, really works in my opinion. I just hope that he doesn’t show up again all the time unless Johns continues the story, as I think it should really be a one-time only thing, rather than bringing him into every series or something.
Again, I think it works cause of how Watchmen ended, and how you really need someone like Dr. Manhattan whose literally more powerful than everyone—and someone who’s just interested in manipulating life. Again, I hope they keep him mostly out of the world unless Johns does a mini-series concluding it, as I think Dr. Manhattan would work best that way. He manipulated the world, and now we get to see the “truth” and the slow realization of the old word—that’s enough. And it’s great how Johns explained the N52 in the plot itself. It actually makes me much more okay with the N52 because I like the idea of how it’s an altered universe due to Dr. Manhattan’s tinkering.
What I also love is the fear Rebirth gives me in regards to Batman—Dr. Manhattan was obliterating everyone who knew about him, and now Batman found the pin, putting Batman’s own life at risk. That, coupled with the Joker revelation makes me just incredibly excited for the future of Batman, even if it’s not addressed any time soon. And the references to the Justice Society, various legacy characters, etc. was also great for reasons mentioned earlier—it brings back the great history of DC.
The writing in general is great as well. I’ve always enjoyed Johns’ work, and if this is to be a (at least temporary) swan-song for him, it’s a great way to go out with all of the heart and brightness and promise seeped into this issue, even while dealing with a very serious and (literally) world-changing event. Like Wally said, “I hope…but it’s getting harder to.” It was getting harder to hope in the N52 universe, “There’s something missing,” but Johns brought that missing piece back. In Geoff Johns I trust—let’s hope he can have the same effect on the films as he did to the comics (and, of course, let’s hope the comics actually follow his lead and live up to what he promised [edit: having read the first week’s releases of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow Rebirths, I can say that so far that definitely seems to be the case]).
So what this all does is allow DC to bring back all that was missing from the N52—while giving a very viable “in-story” reason. Rebirth #1 brings hope back into the DCU, and it’s glorious. I’ve actually always loved darker stories, but I also don’t think that has to be the case for every character—leave the brooding to Batman/etc., and bring hope back—and that’s what they did. I mean, the whole point of Watchmen is that superheroes wouldn’t work in the real world and it would be incredibly dark. But the DC universe is a better universe, so why not let it be better.
And so, overall, it just does the most important thing of all: makes me so incredibly excited to read all the comics in this new, brighter, history-backed future with all of their amazing characters.