Two years ago today, on May 25, 2016, DC Comics launched its Rebirth era. It was a call to restore its characters to a pre-Flashpoint glory with the dual purpose of revamping its storytelling. By celebrating the past and present of DC Comics, the Rebirth era promised to reestablish the ideas of family, hope and legacy that some fans felt had been lost during the New 52 period. And with these promises, the characters would embark on a journey that would reveal secrets and mysteries within the greater DC universe from Flashpoint and the New 52 to present-day comics.
Since its debut two years ago, the Rebirth era has showcased such magical aspects to its storytelling that it has become one of the best things to happen to DC in years. Part of this is due to the incredible moments that many of the books captured. From seeing some of the younger heroes embrace their destinies to witnessing relationships blossom, Rebirth had it all. Most importantly, this era in DC Comics really exceeded in providing a variety of exciting stories that continued to impact the DC Universe throughout the last two years. Thus, it not only reawakened my love for these characters, but it sparked a newfound appreciation for DC Comics as a whole to older and newer fans.
So without further ado, here are the best moments in DC Universe Rebirth according to my personal preference. I chose each of these moments because the characters involved have come to an epic realization that pushed them towards becoming a better hero, the corresponding story elevated their characterization to a whole new level, or it was just great storytelling that amplified the characters’ legacy. Either way, these were some monumental moments in DC Comics’ Rebirth:
#10 Jessica Cruz Perseveres
Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by extreme fear, stress, or worry that can be so powerful that it disrupts everyday life. In Green Lanterns #15, writer S. Humphries shows readers that even a great superhero like Jessica Cruz can struggle with such a traumatic disorder. With as much as Cruz had to endure in her life, such as witnessing the murders of her friends during a hunting trip, she is a survivor in every essence of the word.
Throughout the issue, Jessica takes on monsters and helps those in need alongside her fellow Justice League members; and in each moment, she gives her all. However, her greatest success is not her ability to take on the bad guy(s) or lift a heavy submarine. Jessica Cruz triumphs when she realizes that fear doesn’t define her. She succeeds in knowing that she doesn’t have to fight her anxiety alone—something that takes the greatest courage and is relatable to all of us who struggle with anxiety. So, when Green Lanterns Rebirth presented “A Day in The Life” of Jessica Cruz, it became an awe-inspiring moment in DC Comics that deserves its spot on this list. The issue showed us that she is not her fears—she defies them: Jessica Cruz is a Green Lantern. To see her learn to overcome her fears one step at a time was refreshing as it brought a humanizing perspective to the hero world. And as she continually perseveres, Jessica Cruz has surely found her way into the hearts of many Green Lantern fans, old and new.
#9 Jaime Reyes Embraces the Scarab
One of my favorite aspects of DC Rebirth was that it emphasized the importance of legacy. And in many of the books, the younger generation of heroes embraced their destinies with the aid of their mentors. For Jaime Reyes, however, the opposite held true. Jaime is, unfortunately, a victim of being “chosen” as the bearer of the scarab and had no say in the matter of being the next Blue Beetle. In fact, throughout the early issues of Blue Beetle Rebirth, Jaime begged Ted Kord to find a way to remove the scarab so that he could return to the life of being a normal teenager and not spend his days and nights as an unwilling superhero.
It wasn’t until Jaime lost the scarab in the midst of a crisis that he realized just how great a hero he could be. In Blue Beetle #6-8, Jaime’s dream became a reality as he finally becomes free of the scarab. However, El Paso suffers from the threat of evolving monsters and the Lord of Atlantis, and Jaime’s hometown was left without a hero to defend its inhabitants. When tragedy strikes, that is all the inspiration Jaime needs to embrace his inner hero. His reluctance transforms into bravery, and his willingness to sacrifice his life for the greater good and benefit of his friends and family was monumental. Thus, he sets out to face the threat and even seeks out the scarab to merge with it again. In one moment, a hero was born. Jaime Reyes’ selfless decisions not only strengthened my love for the character, but they reaffirmed Rebirth as a source of great inspiration and the start of an incredible celebration of hope, optimism and heroism even among improbable candidates.
#8 The Trinity of Family
So often in comic book issues, writers spend a great deal on telling stories that involve heroes stopping the next big heist or end-of-the-world threats. However, part of what makes most of these heroes relatable or fun to read about is how grounded they truly can be. In Issue #1 of Trinity, writer Francis Manapul does just that. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman join each other for a dinner night to become better acquainted. Together, the heroes stroll down memory lane as they realize just how important friendship and understanding each other is to their ability to work well with one another. It was a great start for this book and a nice contributor to the legacy of Rebirth by restoring the value of friendship & family.
These themes have been maintained throughout Rebirth. For example, Peter Tomasi in Superman #7 shows how fun a comic book can be when it’s a simple story about spending time with family. In this issue, the Kents spend a night out at the Hamilton County Fair free of “Superman-ing”—or so they try. There’s no huge threat or life-or-death situation, but this is one of the best issues in the entirety of Rebirth because it merely grounds Superman by showing that spending time with family is a necessity in life that we all need, no matter how large our responsibilities.
#7 Lois Lane Returns to the Daily Planet
One of my favorite features of DC Comics is that its universe contains characters that are special even without powers. For me, Lois Lane is one of those exemplary characters. In Action Comics #965-966, she returns to the Daily Planet with two missions on her mind: to fulfill a promise and to report the absolute truth. Previously, Lois had been writing under an alias while being a stay-at-home mother to Jon. And though it’s a life she appreciated, she needed more. Lois Lane had a destiny of greatness to be fulfilled.
The best part about Lois’ return to the Daily Planet is how she gets right down to business. Her investigative instincts were never lost, and Jurgens makes sure the readers know. Additionally, Lois has the complete support of her family, which is unsurprising, but it was yet another beautiful aspect to her storyline. After years of hiding and working behind the scenes, Lois Lane is back in full force, solving mysteries, uncovering the truth, and being a badass woman while doing so.
#6 The Rogues Reload!
At number 6 on the Top 10 moments list is none other than Rebirth’s first appearance of the Rogues. The band of villains set out to accomplish the ultimate heist, led by Captain Cold, and they pull out all of the stops to outsmart Barry Allen. When they finally get an upper hand, the Rogues leave the Flash wondering if he’s lost his touch. Rogues Reloaded (Flash #14-17) makes this list because Williamson excels at recapturing the magic of the classic rivalry. Additionally, he takes the opportunity to amplify the strategizing of the team which makes it an even more interesting arc.
What makes the Flash vs. Rogues rivalry so compelling in their Rebirth debut is that they maintain their understanding of one another. They challenge one another both physically and mentally as foes. In Flash #17, Captain Cold even calls out the Flash and his intentions on being a hero which further expands the intriguing nature of their relationship. Furthermore, Williamson entertains the possibility of the Rogues breaking their code, which makes the action-packed, final battle entertaining from start to finish. But no matter what the Rogues do, or where they try to hide, the Flash will always find them making his legacy against the Rogues one for the ages.
#5 Green Arrow & Black Canary Reunite
Out of all of the moments in Rebirth, the union of Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance feels the most satisfying. In Green Arrow Rebirth, Benjamin Percy sets up an amazing plot in which the emerald archer becomes a champion of the oppressed and tries to save Seattle from the “underground men.” In this issue, Green Arrow patrols the streets when he runs into the Black Canary; and it is from this moment that a relationship blossoms which feels as if it’s been a long time coming in DC Comics.
Ollie and Dinah’s exchanges are masterfully expressed in Green Arrow Rebirth, and Percy sets the foundation of their relationship immediately. He focuses on what makes the pair one of my favorite couples in DC Comics; and it’s that Dinah and Ollie have no problem challenging each other both in conversation and in life. This is one of the aspects of their relationship that fans have been missing. Their back-and-forth banter isn’t just that, it’s Ollie and Dinah’s way of keeping each other in check by constantly reminding each other what they’re fighting for: those who cannot fight for themselves. Along with the powerful and exciting storytelling, Green Arrow Rebirth has been one of the best and most consistent books of this era, which makes it completely deserving of its spot on this top moments list.
#4 Black Manta Rises
Coming in at number 4 is Black Manta’s return. In Aquaman Rebirth, Black Manta unleashes a series of attacks against the world as the head of a new terrorist organization known as N.E.M.O. A variety of actions were set into motion by Black Manta, and ultimately, they would pit Arthur against the United States government. Dan Abnett’s storytelling led to one of the best Rebirth arcs among DC Comics’ titles. What stands out the most in his return is that Black Manta appeared to be even more ruthless and deadly than he had ever been before. His villainy was magnified 10-fold and Black Manta was determined in his vengeance by any means necessary.
Many times, fans say that a hero is as only good as his villain. Well, in the case of Aquaman Rebirth, they surpass the meaning of this phrase. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but their interactions, dialogue and battle captured in one arc what many comic books fail to do in years. That is, Dan Abnett represented Aquaman and Black Manta’s legendary rivalry in one of the most intriguing ways possible. So, it should come as no surprise that their first meeting in Rebirth made this list.
#3 Men of Steel… and Intelligence
Superman is one of my favorite heroes of all time. Not only is he exciting from a power standpoint, but his ability to see the best in people and his belief in redemption for even the most evil of men are things that contribute to his iconic legacy. In Action Comics #967-972, Men of Steel, Dan Jurgens puts Superman and his ideals to the test as he is forced to defend Lex Luthor from a condemned death at the hands of the God Killer. This story arc makes this list because it not only further explores Lex & Superman’s “new” relationship, but it exposes a potential future of DC Comics that could take the comic universe by storm.
Perhaps the greatest thing about the Men of Steel arc, however, is how Jurgens portrays Superman when his back is against the wall. In Action Comics #971-972, Superman uses his intelligence and strategizing skills to overcome a defeat that would impugn his principles. It’s a subtle incorporation to the story, but even Lex is perplexed to realize that Superman possesses these attributes. So often, people think of Superman as an all-powerful being who wants to do the right thing, which is completely true. However, Superman doesn’t always just stop his enemies with his fists; and a lot of times, it requires intellect and strategy to find a way out of no way. For me, these minor details were lacking in past Superman stories. So, when Jurgens represented Superman in this way, it was a beautiful site to see. Thus, it certainly became one of the best moments in DC Rebirth for me.
#2 Batman’s Happy Ending: BatCat
When people talk about Batman, usually it’s his brooding nature, crime-fighting skills or ability to take down The League at any moment that steers the conversation. Rarely, in passing, do people see Bruce Wayne as a happy, in-love man who wants to settle down. So, when Tom King showed Bruce Wayne proposing to Selina Kyle (Catwoman) in Batman #24, I was ecstatic. For some fans, this proposal came as dismay while others shrugged it off as a simple manifestation of his imminent “insanity.” For me, it marked a pivotal moment for Bruce in DC Comics.
What’s so wonderful about Batman Rebirth #24 is that the issue leads to Bruce reflecting on what he thinks of himself & what he wants out of life. Is he happy being Batman? Can Bruce finally admit that fear is the major hurdle standing in the way of his happiness? Out of these questions comes the answer of clarity. What Bruce Wayne needs—what he truly wants—is shown by his willingness to open up to the idea of happiness; and it all begins with this proposal. Whether or not Bruce will get that happy ending is to be determined. But the idea that a hero born from tragedy and fueled by pain can lead a life on the edge of a precipice and still find serenity is intriguing. Additionally, it provides an exciting opportunity for King to explore the character even further. Therefore, this moment has solidified its place as one of the best moments in Rebirth.
#1 The Return of Wally West
Prior to the launch of the Rebirth era, fans found themselves yearning for elements of pre-Flashpoint comics. In particular, Wally West’s absence left many of us disappointed. It turns out that an “unknown force” was responsible for lost time and erasing Wally West from existence and everyone’s memories. But on May 25, 2016, DC Comics’ released their one-shot Rebirth issue, and Wally West fans around the world would rejoice as their favorite character finally appeared in comics again. One of the greatest aspects about Wally West’s return is that it came with an exciting mystery of his whereabouts, and it would ultimately set the stage for a variety of events to come in DC Comics (i.e. The Button, Flash-War, Doomsday Clock, etc.). Not only that, Johns and company brought back the beloved speedster bearing gifts. For instance, Wally West revealed a gorgeous, new costume towards the end of the issue.
Perhaps the greatest moment in this one-shot Rebirth issue, however, was Wally’s reunion with his former mentor and fellow speedster, Barry Allen. In what some fans would describe as one of the most emotional scenes in comic book history, Wally is finally able to cross over and out of the speedforce when Barry remembers who Wally is. From page to page, the story radiates pure emotion and heart—everything Rebirth promised to fulfill and more. Additionally, his reunion with the Titans (The Return of Wally West Vol. 1) continued with the emotional storytelling as the team pieces together their memories and set out to take on the abhorrent force responsible for lost time. Furthermore, the repercussions of this lost time are still present in the DC Universe as Wally recently reconnected with other flash characters, which makes Wally’s reappearance that much more emotional. Ultimately, his return to DC Comics is something that reignited my love for the character and DC Universe, and I’m hoping that Wally gets a solo book soon.
Overall, the Rebirth era was an exciting journey that restored many elements that fans have been yearning for since the end of New 52. From reestablishing the themes of family, hope and legacy to creating exhilarating stories in the books, the creative team(s) behind Rebirth provided old and new fans with moments that will be talked about for years to come. What are some of your favorite moments from the Rebirth era?
1) Reverse Flash Returns!…. or does he? (The Button Part I: Batman #21)
2) The Mind-Melding of Supermen (Superman Reborn: AC #973-976 and Superman #18-19)
3) Cyborg Has a Soul! (The Imitation of Life: Cyborg #1-6)