Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ethan Van Sciver
One word describes this issue, and Flash: Rebirth in general, and that is slow. For a book and character that thrives on speed, Rebirth has been a slow and plodding pace that threatens to bore me before Geoff Johns ever really makes me care about Barry Allen's return or the new grimmer and darker motivation for the Silver Age character.
Speaking of which, the retconning of Barry's parents' death as his sole motivation for being a hero and working in a crime lab has been the worst part of this series. This isn't the same Barry from the few flashback or random time travel appearances that I've read of him nor is it the same fun, straight laced Barry from Final Crisis. Sure, Johns threw out a random Flash Fact, which seemed forced moreso than something he should have been saying at the time, but that doesn't automatically make it good writing and it felt like he was going through a checklist of things to include here rather than having a story to tell.
However, the biggest problem with this issue is that nothing happens. It is literally giving us the origin of Barry's clip-on bowtie for the bulk of the issue. The rest is a few scenes dealing with Savitar's death from last issue and the followup confrontation with one of his followers, who Barry kills in much the same way as he did Savitar. The issue ended with the confirmation that Barry is, in fact, the new Black Flash, complete with his own costume. Van Sciver mentioned he was designing a new costume for Wally, so I wonder if Barry will stick with this Black Flash costume or if Van Sciver was just misdirecting everyone and the new costume was actually for Barry.
All that said, the issue wasn't a complete loss. I did enjoy some of the flashback scenes when Johns wasn't beating us over the head with how dark and tragic Barry's past was and the Black Flash confirmation was a nice step forward at the end of the issue.
Verdict - Check It. I'm not willing to recommend this series to any new readers of Flash and I'm not even sure if it's something old fans should run out to pick up, but it wasn't a bad issue either. It's mostly falling a victim of its own hype and my high expectations, to which it is falling well short of presently.