by Geoff Johns (writer), Ethan Van Sciver (art), Brian Miller (colors), and Rob Leigh (letters)

The Story: Barry Allen’s true relationship with the Speed Force is revealed, as the battle with Professor Zoom begins.

What’s Good: It’s no secret that Rebirth has been a bit tepid at times, and often I find the best thing I have to say about an issue being that is when “it’s finally picking up.” Well, finally, greatness arrives.  This is bar none the best issue of the series thus far.  It’s hard to believe I’m saying this about an issue of Flash: Rebirth, but this month’s book is so fast paced and exhilarating, both action and development-wise, that it borders on being disorienting.

The book is great, largely thanks to Professor Zoom, who finally gives the book the focus, direction, and central conflict that’s needed. More than ever, Johns positions Zoom as the perfect foil and nemesis to Barry, giving Allen and the series a definite point.  Johns does a great job of writing Zoom as well; the Professor is crazy, egotistical and obsessive. He’s a great character to read and Johns, with a little retconning, has made Zoom the direct opposite of Barry, making for an epic contest and a fist-pumping ending.

I also found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed the relationship between Barry and Max Mercury this month. There are a couple of really touching, emotional lines and it’s great to see their bond highlighted.  It’s a two-way street; Max encourages Barry, and Barry in turn, gives Max hope.

This book also finally succeeds in giving a great sense of family unity. Where in past issues I felt the story diluted by having too many Flashes, it works perfectly this month, adding a certain tone of fellowship, loyalty, and most of all, dynasty.

Van Sciver’s dedication to detail goes hand-in-hand with an even greater level of mayhem. He does a solid job of depicting the blurred Flash-combat, which remains completely comprehensible at all times.  Thanks in no small part to colorist Brian Miller, the scenes within the Speed Force also look absolutely fantastic.  Despite the chaos of being in a crimson hurricane, Van Sciver again manages to make it completely clear and understandable.

What’s Not So Good: How do you feel about retconning?  This is a heavilly retconning issue.  Even indifferent as I am to it, the rewriting/revelation of Allen’s relationship to the Speed Force is a pretty big pill to swallow, as it essentially makes him God of the Speed Force. That said, it’s obvious that this’ll make for some incredible stories in the future, particularly due to the diametrical opposition it creates with Zoom.

Also, given that this is a Speed Force-heavy issue, some of the dialogue comes with the expected pseudo-science babble. Expect to find yourself re-reading a few bubbles.

Conclusion: Hell yeah!  THIS is what I signed up for with Flash: Rebirth.  A great issue that totally rewards you for sticking around, as long as you don’t mind the change of what’s been established in the Flash folklore.

Grade: A-

-Alex Evans