by Geoff Johns (writer), Ethan Van Sciver (penciller & inker), Alex Sinclair (colorist), & Rob Leigh (letterer)

The Story: Barry Allen continues to wrestle with existential issues while the mysteries presented in issue #1 tighten.

The Good: After a somewhat modest first issue, this is a huge improvement.  Last month, I wasn’t sure if I’d stay on board but after issue 2, I can’t wait for next month, so obviously Johns is doing something right.

Johns clearly has a story he wants to tell and it looks like a good one, provided he actually tells it.  The investigation into the deaths of the Black Flash and Savitar are very interesting when Johns actually approaches them.  I like hearing about the speed force and I enjoy Barry Allen’s police officer’s mindset.

I also enjoyed Johns’ presentation of Allen’s existential difficulties, hammering home that his return is not at all like Hal Jordan’s.  Allen’s struggle to feel needed or to find direction in the midst of an event as huge as his return from death is paradoxical, and when this is highlighted, it works out well.  The conversation he has with Iris was great here,  “need” and “want,” and Barry’s textboxes continue to impress.

That said, the best thing about this issue is, without a doubt, the final three-four pages.  It’s really a very surprising direction that Johns takes and I can’t wait till next month to see where he goes with it.  Honestly, in a series centered on Barry Allen’s return as the Flash, I did not see this coming and it was a refreshing and welcome surprise in a series that has thus far been a bit stagnant.  It’s impossible to see the last page of this comic and not want #3 ASAP.

Lastly, Van Sciver’s art is as gorgeous as ever, packed with detail and flat-out hard work.  Sinclair’s bright colors are also an absolute joy and a perfect fit.  The art particularly shines in the large frames and splashes, with the full-page splash of Barry running across the water being gorgeous and indicative of the art as a whole.

What’s Not So Good:
Johns is caught playing juggler.  He has an interesting story to tell, but he also has to deal with the Flash mythology and Barry’s psychology in dealing with his return.  While not as bad as issue one, we still see digressions that don’t feel necessary and end up wasting space that could be better spent on the actual plot, slowing everything down to a crawl.

The flashback to Allen’s past just wasn’t needed and it really stuck out as clearly the weakest, and most tangential, portion of the book.  I understand that Johns wants to reintroduce us to Allen’s character, but I just don’t see why he can’t do this in a more efficient manner, perhaps through conversations with other characters that can occur whilst moving the plot  forward.  While it’s better than last time, I once again find myself in the strange position of wanting the Flash to move faster.

Also, while the issue’s ending shows promise, I do feel that with so many mysteries, the book feels a bit directionless.  Perhaps I’m a simpleton, but in a big DC Comic, I’m sort of feeling the lack of a central adversary here and the fact remains that we are moving into the third issue of a limited series with only hints of a defined plot.  Villains pass in and out of “Rebirth,” dying the moment they show up.  Perhaps the inevitable reintroduction of that nasty fellow from issue one will solve this and the end of the issue will help, but again, that just shows that things need to speed up.

The Bottom-Line: A much more enjoyable read than last time.  Still by no means perfect, but it’s an improvement, and with it’s fantastic ending, a sign of further improvements to come.  Don’t lose hope on this series!  A solid issue.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans