FLASHPOINT explorations and samplings – part one
WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN HERE. I’m not sure how many people will make the effort to get every single one of these Flashpoint-related titles - - - there’s just too many. I’m excited about DC putting out 52 #1 issues (likewise, 52 new starting points) in a single month, but also discouraged by the required commitment of time and money. I’m getting the core Flashpoint limited series and some select titles and will summarize them here. In doing so, I’m bound to give away some plot details but that may be essential to helping you make a purchasing decision. If I save you time, money or help decide whether or not to pick up something new . . . then I’ve done what I hoped to do. And, if you’re not going to read any of these books you’ll at least know something about what happens.
THE SHORT AND SWEET COMMENTARY: I was surprised as well as shocked by some of the changes and major events that occur during this super-saga. There is some tampering with some core characters that is bold, different and also somewhat refreshing. I’m not a diehard DC purist but I assumed that some of their icons would be untouchable. What I’m not sure about at all is if this is really permanent or just another spin on the DC universe similar to what Marvel did with their ULTIMATE titles. I haven’t seen any evidence to confirm the changes are occurring in the Earth One DC where most of the former titles take place. Not making a specific statement about it leaves DC an escape hatch / way out just in case the readership objects too loudly or rejects the changes. Let’s start with the big opening salvo here . . . . . . . .
FLASHPOINT #1 of 5 (DC Comics, July 2011 cover date) Geoff Johns, Writer. Andy Kubert, Penciller. Sandra Hope, Inker. Alex Sinclair, Colorist. Nick J. Napolitano, Letterer.
I usually approach every one of Marvel and DC’s “universe-changing big events” with caution but end up reading a fair share of them. I start out deciding to wait several months and find out if the story is worthwhile - - and then possibly purchase the trade paperback edition. But time and again I’ll visit the comic store and hold #1 in my hand, flip through a couple pages for a quick scan, and end up buying it. IT’S THE ART !!! That sucks me in every time. It is the sole reason that I decided to go with the FLASHPOINT series. The pencils by Andy Kubert are some of his best work, and after the team of Hope / Sinclair/ Napolitano finish it off with inks, color and letters it is wonderful to look at. No disrespect is meant to Geoff Johns, one of the best super-hero writers out there. If it wasn’t for the dynamic art, I wouldn’t be reading this title.
Barry Allen has been working long and hard hours and apparently falls asleep on the job. When he is shaken awake by his lab partner, Barry finds his world changed in several ways. Captain Cold is a hero in this reality - - Captain Marvel is Captain Thunder - - Barry’s mom is alive and well - - Iris Allen is Iris West - - and the Flash is unknown. So is the Justice League and Superman. But everybody knows about Batman - - - except he’s not the same Batman that regular DC readers know.
This is a mean, gritty, ultra-aggressive Batman who does not hesitate to use torture and other fatal threats to suspects in order to obtain information on the Joker’s whereabouts. He seems to finance his night work through the proceeds of Wayne Casinos. He flat-out refuses Cyborg’s invitation to join a large assemblage of heroes and villains to band together against the aggressive and separate global conquest campaigns being waged by both Aquaman and Wonder Woman. He doubts that Cyborg’s assembled group could work together without killing each other, and this seems to break the team apart before it can even be formed.
Barry (who is aware of Batman’s origins) gets to Wayne Manor and then into the Bat Cave where he is nearly killed when Batman discovers him. The issues ends with a shocker, as Barry finds out that Bruce Wayne died during that infamous Wayne family encounter with a Gotham street gunman many years ago. Batman is his father - - Thomas Wayne.
That is a big pile of changes to lay on a reader in the opening of this five-issue epic. Johns pulls it off nicely, building the suspense and holding our attention as the story jumps between Barry (who apparently has no powers here) and Batman/Thomas. I like it.
FLASHPOINT #2 of 5 (DC Comics, August 2011 cover date) - - same art team as above
Holy crap! The art gets even better in Issue #2. You have to see this!
A band of seemingly “pirates” sails too close into the water-logged ruins of Paris, runs aground and their leader (Deathstroke) meets the end of Aquaman’s trident. Meanwhile, Barry is still trying to explain who he is to Batman and is getting the crap beaten out of him (along with broken fingers). He wonders if he’s on a parallel world until he comes to the grim realization that his memories are changing and he’s aware of current events (Aquaman floods Europe, Wonder Woman blitzkriegs London) so “this is real.” When he tries to show Batman his costume ring, out pops the yellow Reverse-Flash outfit. Batman decides to work with Barry because he hopes he can somehow change the world back so that his son Bruce Wayne lived and Thomas Wayne died. In a nice homage to the original Frankenstein movie, Barry tries uses electricity to restore his speed powers.
There are some very neat features in the back of this issue. The Flashpoint World Map shows how the planet has changed and who is in power/control of each area, with some interesting surprises = Alaska is the “land of the dead”; the Sea Devils are back (can’t wait to see them again!); Black Adam has his own protectorate; and Brazil is Nazi-occupied. There are also single page entries showing costume changes, alterations, and designs for several characters. My favorite is the Thomas Wayne Batman outfit.