Or- “How To Make Your Elseworlds Sell Better…”

The new era at DC is really emblemized by the return of Barry Allen (and to a lesser degree, Hal Jordan) from the dead.  After a high-profile relaunch that was pretty disappointing to me, The Flash has found himself at the center of another impending universal catastrophe with two evil twins (one literal, another metaphorical) making things complicated.  As we kick off the event that will pretty much BE DC Comics for the foreseeable future, it’s time to really see whether the “one true Flash” is up to the challenge ahead.

FLASHPOINT #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editors: Adam Schlagman & Rex Ogle
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on Flashpoint: Barry Allen was dead, having sacrificed himself to save the universe from a great evil.  His return was shocking, but The Flash found himself in an endless grind, returning to his old stomping grounds, his old job, and dealing with old scores.  His own return was mirrored, naturally, by a similar return of Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, who learned a few tricks of his own.  Having already adjusted the timestream to hurt Barry (retconning his mother away, for one) Reverse-Flash is now prepared for more complicated temporal surgery.  Everything you know is wrong, but this time, they did it on purpose…

The More Things Change…

I’m a little bit disturbed by the new paradigm in comics where every single hero has to be Batman, driven by the death of a loved one (preferably a parent or a child, but any horror will do.)  Barry Allen became a hero because he was the kind of guy who would do that, and adding the ‘murdered mommy’ angle seems unnecessary and a bit Freudian to me.  That said, the moment wherein Barry discovers that his lost mother is still alive early in this issue is the strongest moment of the book.  If all the buildup was to give us that moment, then Johns has succeeded in his goal of making us care.  Either way, this issue is a whirlwind, with Barry discovering that Mama isn’t the only alteration to the timeline, as his powers are gone (or never happened), his friends are either missing or barely recognizable, and the people he knows as villains have gained Robin Hood status as heroes.  Forced to resort to regular transportation, Barry heads north, while we find out what’s up elsewhere in the world.

…The More They Go Freakin’ Nuts!

In Gotham City, the mysterious Batman’s business is interrupted by Cyborg, and as long as you expect “business” to mean “murdering someone I think is Harley Quinn,” you should understand that it’s a good thing.  Cyborg is building an alliance to halt the twin threats of the Amazon and Atlantean armies, and wants the Bat to join up.  The plot grinds to a halt as we are laboriously introduced to each of the new characters and their status quos, and the expositionary dialogue flies hot and heavy in all directions, reminding me of an ’80s Marvel Comic.  If you’re a regular Major Spoilers reader or someone who pays attention to Previews, there are no surprises here, save for the fact that at least one of our major players seems to be modeled on a big name DC creator.  Cyborg’s plan sees complications, Batman is even grimmer than before, and Barry discovers a shocking secret about the man behind the pointy mask: one THOMAS Wayne.  Looks like Stephen’s naming conventions have proven eerily prophetic as we fade to black…

The Verdict: An Interesting Start

There are a LOT of cool ideas rattling around in this issue, but for all that I enjoy (Citizen Cold, Cyborg as a major player, June Moon and Rac Shade) there are things that just bother the heck out of me (the fate of the United Kingdom’s males, Batman as a major player, whatever is going on with Captain Thunder.)  Nothing really worth hating, unless your a devotee of continuity porn, and as long as you’re ready for the Geoff Johns style (when he likes a character, he will push that character like Vince McMahon pushes anyone above 6′ 10″) it’s an innocuous start to a series that potentially could outshine Blackest Night.  The art is excellent throughout, with Andy Kubert reminding me of Rags Morales in certain places, and all the characters recognizable as who they are/were/are supposed to be.  All in all, even with the slow bits, the talky bits and some weird character choices, it’s a strong kickoff to a series that promises to show us a whole new DCU, leading Flashpoint #1 to earn a solid 3 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Was the secret reveal at the end kind of anticlimactic to anyone else?  It just seems like a minor variation on the character’s primary theme to me.

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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8 Comments

  1. Russ Catt
    May 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm — Reply

    Great review.
    I really couldn’t manage to care about Batman – or anyone else – in this issue.
    I think the saving grace for me was the image of Talky Tawny as Battle-Cat. That gave me nerd-chills :)
    I guess I’ll pick up issue 2 to see what happens next.

  2. TaZ
    May 12, 2011 at 9:21 pm — Reply

    Could be worse. Barry Allen could be stuck on Manhattan Island and everyone there has super-speed.

  3. Ricco
    May 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm — Reply

    “Was the secret reveal at the end kind of anticlimactic to anyone else? It just seems like a minor variation on the character’s primary theme to me.”

    Yes, very much so, at least now it’s confirmed: insanity runs in the family.

    The only thing that really grabbed my interest and might have me read more is the Joker, if Batman is barely good I want to see how evil/crazy the Joker is and there’s the Secret Seven to consider…

  4. Esfixe8
    May 13, 2011 at 1:36 am — Reply

    Well. to be honest, I’m only waitinig to see what they do with Shade, The Changing Man. He seems to be the Vertigo version (to be written by Peter Milligan), so it could get good.

  5. applejack1310
    May 13, 2011 at 9:45 am — Reply

    Oh, god, the art. The oh-so terrible art. Eyes…hurting…

    • J Michael T
      May 13, 2011 at 10:37 am — Reply

      That bad? I get my copy tonight. Now I’m worried.

      • applejack1310
        May 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm — Reply

        I just can’t stand Kubert’s art. You may enjoy it, who knows.

  6. Lee Goldberg
    May 13, 2011 at 10:25 am — Reply

    I love the whole Captain Planet/He-Man take on Shazam (as well as the “Captain Thunder” shout-out). It’s one of the most interesting and original takes on the character I’ve seen, and yet still fits into the basic theme of Captain Marvel. I wouldn’t mind something similar happening back in the “real” DCU.

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