REVIEW: Flashpoint #2


Or – “The Seeds Of An All-New DCU!”

Recent announcements from DC have changed this title from the latest summer crossover extravaganza to the building blocks of something much bigger and far-reaching.  So far, we’ve seen one Leaguer drastically altered, with a couple more waiting in the wings, and the artist formerly known as The Flash in way over his head…

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inker: Sandra Hope
Cover Artist(s): Andy Kubert & Sandra Hope/ Ivan Reis & George Perez
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on Flashpoint: Barry Allen knew something was wrong when his mother turned up alive, a moment that served as a bittersweet realization that the world has gone horribly awry.  With his powers gone, he struck out on his own to find the one man who he knew could think their way out of any puzzle, but it seemed that he wasn’t the ONLY one who suddenly had a parent that wasn’t deceased.  Reverse-Flash’s manipulation of time has created a terrifying new world for Barry, and the real scale of the horror hasn’t even become clear…  yet.

Chaos On A Global Scale…

We start with a scene familiar to anyone who has read one of these alternate reality tales (What If, Elseworlds, Age of Apocalypse):  The establishing-shot-with-guys-yo-already-know-in-their-new-context, specifically Deathstroke The Terminator, now a maritime pirate with a shipful of familiar faces.  After a clever joke about Sonar (I chuckled), we find Slade coming up against his arch piratical nemesis, The Warlord, making me expect some sort of battle sequence.  What we get instead is the revelation of Flashpoint Aquaman and a shocking ‘Planet Of The Apes’ moment.  The King of Atlantis dispatches Deathstroke a little too quickly for my tastes, though, smacking of the Rob Liefeld school of ‘new character beats up the last new character who was the strongest and bestest character ever.”  In Gotham City, Thomas Wayne’s short temper leads him to deal rather severely with the interloper in his Batcave, breaking one of Barry’s fingers mostly to differentiate him as not your father’s Batman.  (Ironically, he IS your Batman’s father, though.)  Barry’s lunatic babbling serves only to anger the Darker Knight, until Barry tells him that his son SHOULD have survived that night in Crime Alley.

…Pain And Suffering On A Personal One.

While Thomas comes to terms with Barry’s stories of a better world, we cut back to Europe, where a mysterious soldier fights Amazons in the wreckage of London.  He is quickly overwhelmed, and the Amazon Queen (yes, it’s her) wraps her lasso of truth around his throat.  This creates another familiar Alternate Universe schtick:  The-long-in-character-explanation.  Turns out our Freedom Fighter is none other than Steve Trevor, who has come to find the spy in Wonder Woman’s midst, a woman named Lois Lane.  To my eye, Wonder Woman’s helmet looks halfway between ridiculous and awful, though, which undermines a bit of the drama and combines with the long exposition to grind the issue to a halt.  We end with a bang, though, returning to Gotham to see what’s up with Tom and Barry.  After discovering that his costume has been replaced with the yellow uniform of Reverse-Flash, Barry rigs up a device to return his powers.  Strapping himself to an electric chair (!!) and surrounding himself with chemicals, he waits in the rain for a stray lightning bolt.  As goofy as it sounds, the scene works relatively well, and the literally shocking final panel is an interesting choice.

The Verdict: Some Expected Pitfalls, Some Unexpected Peaks

Unfortunately, even as it’s interesting, it serves to remind us of how ridiculous The Flash’s origin actually is, and even after the issue recovers from Steve’s exposition, we end with a quiet “WTF?” feeling.  The intent of these type of stories is always to disorient us, to put familiar faces in the wrong places, but then bring them back together at the end to prove your thesis.  We’re theoretically 40% of the way through the main story, and we’re just now getting to the action and the reveal of the strange new status quo of our heroes.  I think the greatest failing of the issue for me is the realization that you WILL have to read other supporting material to get a full story, though I hope that my choice to read only those supporting minis that catch my fancy doesn’t kill the big story arc.  All in all, it’s not a disappointing issue, as Kubert’s art is strong throughout and the story (while slower than I’d like) is still interesting, leading Flashpoint #2 to hit a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. Best of all, knowing where things are going to end up in a month or two doesn’t quash the parts of the issue that work…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Stephen recently opined that Thomas Wayne as Batman could work in the regular DCU, at least temporarily.  Is he genius or cheese sandwich?