Or – “The Oncoming Storm…”

So, with all the talk about what’s coming in September, how many people forgot that we still had a ways to go in order to get there?

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inker: Jesse Deperdang
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Kate Stewart & Rex Ogle
Cover: $3.99
Publisher: DC Comics

Previously, on Flashpoint:  The Reverse-Flash’s grudge on Barry Allen caused him to use his time-travel powers to change the very fabric of reality.  The world that he created lacked a Superman, lacked a Flash, and recast Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Batman into nearly unrecognizable roles.  Though Barry has managed to replicate the accident that gave him his super-speed powers (a moment that, by the way, was really hard to swallow from a writing viewpoint), the heroes of this new world can’t get their acts together and unite against the twin threats of a mad king of Atlantis and a vengeful queen of the Amazons.  Time has officially run out (in all senses of both words) and only Barry holds the key to saving his native reality.

The Consequences Of Selectivity…

So, I admit that I haven’t read all of the Flashpoint crossovers and minis, and the ones that I have read I haven’t voraciously absorbed, so I’m unclear on what may have happened in between issues 3 and 4, but we open in the Fawcett City foster home of Billy Batson, Mary Batson and the other four kids who comprise the composite hero called Captain Thunder.  They’re watching television (which always feels like a cheat as exposition) and arguing about whether or not to get involved in the superhuman conflict that was set up in issue #1.  I have to say I was immediately put off by the fact that literally NOTHING has happened in the Flashpoint universe outside of Barry Allen’s quest for speed, apparently, and we’re right where we started out.  The kids argue with each other, while, elsewhere, Batman and Flash encounter a new/old hero, the Element Woman.  If you’ve never seen her before, I want you to picture a distillation of every aspect of art that you expect from Jim Lee, with flowing purple hair, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what we’re dealing with.  After last issue’s quest for Superman, things in Metropolis are all fighty-fighty and arguey, as Flash and the Batman clash over whether the world can even BE saved.

A Pretty Sizable Jump.

After going back and rereading #3, I returned to this issue with a fresher perspective, but still found the ‘gathering of heroes’ portion of the story to be more successful than the fighty-fighty.  Hal Jordan appears briefly, flying a bomb into Europe to end the AtlAmazon War, but is reported killed, a moment which takes a great toll on our hero.  The Flash finally pulls in Batman by arguing the right points (The argument that they need heroes to save his crapsack world doesn’t work, so Barry flatly says, “Bruce would’ve come.”) and the presence of the Dark Knight brings more heroes into the fold.  There are a lot of references to things that have happened in the other books, and a LOT of over-the-top exclamatory and expositional monologues, and the heroes set off for Jolly Olde Englande, where Arthur and Diana’s war is already in progress.  Things turn bad quickly, and a Golden Age comic favorite is run through by Wonder Woman, causing an explosion that levels the battlefield.  As we close, The Reverse Flash appears out of nowhere to chide Barry Allen with a demented grin, “Look what you’ve done!”

The Verdict: A Bit Too Much Happening Off Panel…

What happened to Shade The Changing Man?  Where has Superman gone?  What brought Aquaman and Wonder Woman to blows this time?  Where has Captain Thunder been?  What in the world is a Blackout?  What is the deal with the super-perky Element Woman?  Answers to all these questions and more are… not to be found in these pages, which weakens the narrative for me.  Andy Kubert’s art isn’t bad, but it’s difficult to tell the differences between certain characters (Freddy Freeman and Billy Batson, notably) in certain scenes, and there’s an overuse of armored elements that has become a bit cumbersome.  (It should also be noted that I find this issues cover to be particularly jumbled and unattractive, though that is not all on Kubert.)  All in all, the story reaches an appropriately dramatic, if overly familiar, climax as our hero finally gets to face the villain behind all the madness in time for the two of them to do something that will reset reality in a few weeks.  The choppiness of the story, combined with the awkwardness of much of the dialogue brings the experience down a bit, making Flashpoint #4 a mixed bag, earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s always difficult to balance grand scale events with enough perspective to make us care, and this book doesn’t QUITE get that balance right…

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Has the progression of Flashpoint from issue to issue been extremely jarring for anyone else?


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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  1. ~wyntermute~
    August 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm — Reply

    ~is waiting to read it when it’s finished, so the “issue to issue progression” issues (wow that’s a lot of issues) will either be non-existent or HELLISHLY-noticeable due to the lack of 30 days between ishes.~

  2. J Michael T
    August 3, 2011 at 5:22 pm — Reply

    “Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Has the progression of Flashpoint from issue to issue been extremely jarring for anyone else?”

    Absolutely. I also do not feel like reading all of the “related” stories (mostly because I feel I have been burned in the past by reading tie-ins with maybe a panel where the story is actually tied in to the main story) so I feel “lost” when I read these. The story feels really disjointed and unexciting.

    It’s more of a “well-guess-I-should-read-this-before-September-happens” feeling than a “wow-this-is-why-September-happens” feeling…

  3. Lee Goldberg
    August 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm — Reply

    And DC kills another kid (who also happens to be one of my favorite super heroes) on panel. Class Act.

    • Lando
      August 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm — Reply

      not to mention it didn’t make much sense either. Wonder Woman seemed shocked Captain Thunder (How much you want to bet that name will stick) was really just a child…then somehow picked him up and stabbed him in the back.

      So yea…that was weird.

      • Brainy Pirate
        August 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm — Reply

        I don’t think that was WW who killed him.

  4. Ricco
    August 3, 2011 at 6:55 pm — Reply

    “Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Has the progression of Flashpoint from issue to issue been extremely jarring for anyone else?”

    I borrowed my friends comics, he buys DC events religiously, have read all the tie-ins and this happens AFTER the 3rd and last part of said tie-ins, so the continuity from the previous issue to this one is literally none existing. We are missing around a day or so of storyline leading to the final fight…

  5. August 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm — Reply

    I recently re-read Alan Moore’s proposal to DC for his planned “Twilight of the Superheroes”, and I remember one of his selling points being that he wanted to tell a huge universal story that could be contained within the story. You got all you needed from the main story without needed to purchase 18 issues of tie-ins to act as code breakers in order to decrypt and understand the story you were trying to read. Flashpoint does its best to do the exact opposite in every way.

    I buy a “necessary” tie-in. Read said tie-in until I get to a page that looks like something I should have read in the main story. I quickly close the issue and read the main story to find that what I read before was happening in the same place and time as the main story, but was rather unrelated. So then I go back and read the tie-in to, a few pages later, see parts of the story that will obviously be revealed and appear in next month’s issue of the main story.

    There needs to be a detailed list of that month’s reading order on the front cover. Or, ya know, they can just do better. :-/

  6. Brainy Pirate
    August 3, 2011 at 9:56 pm — Reply

    I like the fact that Flash must choose to put aside his own quest to restore his timeline in order to save the world he’s now in. Of course, that aspect of his story could be easily passed over in all the ensuing chaos.

    As a reader, I’m bothered that there are all these strands that no one in the story is aware of and that don’t seem to come to a head in the script either. We get the fact that Hal Jordan was on his way to drop a bomb, but I don’t think the Amazonians or Atlanteans in this issue are aware of that. We know that Traci 13’s dad has launched the satellite to destroy them all, but I don’t think ANYONE in this issue is aware of that. (Plus, it makes the Hal Jordan bomb a bit redundant.) We also know that the war was caused by an conspiracy between Atlanteans and Amazonians against Diana and Arthur, and again, almost no one in this issue realizes that. So there are multiple storylines with huge implications but with no connection to one another–and it’s hard to keep track of them.

    Meanwhile, most of the tie-ins seem to be little more than excuses to kill as many characters as possible–see esp. Secret Seven, Legion of Doom, Grodd, and Outsider. But then we get Traci-13, which ends on a overly-simplistic happy note (at least in context of the whole series) and involves only one major death. So there’s too much gore in the dark books and too much hope in the light one.


  7. James
    August 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm — Reply

    It feels like the end to me, which it is. The new 52 are branded as a great jump on point. Pity it is also a great jump off point also.

  8. August 4, 2011 at 1:59 am — Reply

    Ill wait for the trade.

  9. SenorEjaz
    August 4, 2011 at 6:53 am — Reply

    This story strikes me more and more as a quick scribbling on the back of the beer-mat thing in time for the emergency reboot – yes it is a reboot. Several major DC characters (eg Superman and Wonder Woman) have been so mismanaged and badly written/edited the last few years that their books have reached a dead-end. I’m reckoning Didio went to Johns 6 months ago and told him to come up with this story that will lead up to the much-needed reboot. Since Johns loves ‘Boring Barry’ Allen to the depths of his soul (dear God, why!?!) it became a Flash story.

    • August 4, 2011 at 11:29 pm — Reply

      Not so sure about that. Pretty universally, the reviews of the Flashpoint books have been that they felt “rushed”–pushing a story that looked like it was initially plotted out for 3 or 4 issues down to one.

      So I’m sure your timeline is more or less correct. Lee has gone on record saying that, while the idea for the new 52 germinated in a writer’s retreat a year ago, the real impetus behind putting it in motion were poor sales figures (probably the plunge that happened in January).

      Regardless, I think Flashpoint happened independently of the relaunch/reboot. The idea for FP happened. The idea for New 52 happened. Flashpoint started. Then a wake-up call in the form of first quarter numbers made them put New 52 in motion.

  10. August 4, 2011 at 7:22 am — Reply

    Defintely Trade waiting, especially when you know that based on what we’ve found out about the relaunch, the effects of Flashpoint willl be minimal on the future of the DCU. Element Woman may be the only carryover from what I’ve seen.

    Flashpoint to me, having read borrowed issues seems to be a lesson in how not to do an event. Lots of unneeded cameos and characters, lots of stuff happening in the tie-ins, huge gaps in the narrative, and lots happening off panel.

  11. Ced
    August 4, 2011 at 9:40 am — Reply

    It strange how most of the characters dead feel so casual in their treatment, they are presented as if no one care, or too quickly, or as canon fooder, or not meaningful, I don’t know… maybe it just me.

  12. websnap
    August 4, 2011 at 9:53 am — Reply

    I’ll be the counter voice.

    ***** warning, some spoilers *****

    Love it. Seriously, love it. I have been catching most of the tie-ins but I feel the main line is strong on it’s own. Let me try to answer some of your questions. Where is Superman? at the end of FP #3, after barry and the gang got him free, he got spooked and ran away when the military (who had him imprisoned all of his life) showed up — illustrating the lack character he would have had if the Kents raised him. I feel Superman will actually come back at the climax of the fight. As for why Aquaman and Diana are “fighting now”, it’s actually the first actual battle since Mira was killed, the government got Hal to drop the bomb on them while they were finally in the same place, thus (presumably) ending the terror both side have held over the world. But Hal was apparently killed during the unsuccessful bomb delivery. Captain Thunder are just kids who were scared and stayed home. Seems like they had a run in with Diana previously and they narrowly made it out. Understandable that they wouldn’t have jumped back in till now since there wasn’t any support to help till now. Shade has been purposefully kept out of the battle by enchantress at Diana’s request. I expect him to show up in the final battle, like Superman.

    The concept of this book (to me) has been what happens when there is no unity in the super hero community. They are all scared, fragmented and unable to work as a team. If you think about it in Military terms, these scenarios are how soldiers die, and that’s what’s happening here. As for Billy getting “run through”, I felt it was an important piece and think it will be the final catalyst to unite the remaining heroes for this final battle.

  13. August 4, 2011 at 1:00 pm — Reply

    The motherbook feels like it’s giving you fits & spurts of the story, but I am genuinely enjoying some of the tie-ins. I wish Secret Seven was several issues longer to explore some of Milligan’s odd ideas, and I’m glad that the Frankenstein book is apparently continuing out of the action & insanity that is the tie-in. These aren’t “vital” tie-ins, but the ones that are… aren’t as good. But it does feel like some of the larger plot points that should be explained in Flashpoint proper (the whole dueling conspiracies thing that led to the Amazons & Atlantis fighting, the humans preparing to nuke them from orbit, etc.) are being put into the spin-offs for no real reason other than cash & scheduling. A flashback/cutaway scene wouldn’t kill them, dammit.

    I don’t have the seething hatred for it that certain trolls who seem to find every post with a DC tag so they can bear their imaginary cross of fan-suffering have for Flashpoint (and by extention, the relaunch), but they could be handling it in a much more reader-friendly manner as far as fleshing out this universe. Hopefully, trading it will rectify some of the problems. They seem to have put a lot of potentially interesting ideas into this but haven’t given themselves the time & space to properly explore them.

  14. TaZ
    August 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm — Reply

    Other than watching Billy Batson get run through like a pig by an Amazon blade I have followed each issue of the series and only a couple of the side stories (Secret Seven, Legion of Doom, Knight of Vengeance). Knowing that complaining won’t stop the “Relaunch” I’ve tried to put that aside and wait to see how the struggle between Reverse Flash and Barry Allen/Flash end up bringing about the “new” DCU continuity.

    This series isn’t supposed to be the place to explore all the facets of this “Flashpoint” reality. There would be no way that DC could do this since we’re talking about the fact that THE ENTIRE universe changed during this story.

    Golden Age Fanboy and Silver Age person that I am I’ve enjoyed it. But they damn well better bring back the Marvel Family in 2012.

  15. Brainy Pirate
    August 4, 2011 at 5:48 pm — Reply

    I can’t imagine how the TPB could possibly do justice to this story, given that many of the main facts readers need are presented in the tie-ins. I really don’t think the main FP series stands very well on its own.

  16. Brent
    August 5, 2011 at 6:54 am — Reply

    I was a little mad that they showed Hal is dead on the TV. In #2 of the Hal Jordan tie in he was just headed out to drop the Green Arrow bomb. I guess I don’t need to pick up #3 since I know the ending.

    • websnap
      August 5, 2011 at 9:58 am — Reply

      If we don’t see it in panel, I wouldn’t put too much stock in it. We saw Captain Thunder die on panel but not Hal? I think the events in FP Hal #3 will allow for a GL Hal in FP#5. Just a guess but I’m confidant, especially since the “green arrow never misses its target” + we never saw an explosion + I think Hal would have shot the thing on the way down.

    • August 5, 2011 at 10:10 am — Reply

      I was a little mad that they showed Hal is dead on the TV. In #2 of the Hal Jordan tie in he was just headed out to drop the Green Arrow bomb. I guess I don’t need to pick up #3 since I know the ending

      Given the esteem for Hal Jordan among the creative team *coughmancrushcough*, I didn’t buy that for a second. There is clearly something else going on there, and more of the story to be told. I expect that Hal will be a part of next issue’s big denouement…

  17. joe
    August 6, 2011 at 5:41 am — Reply

    (Flash must choose to put aside his own quest to restore his timeline in order to save the world he’s now in)

    – is this another earth he is on-or is it an alternate timeline he’s created. since they say it’s his time travel technique that caused this i’m guessing it’s an alternate time line. so why would he have to fix that world if he plans on putting the time line back in place or to restore the time line? once he restores the timeline the one he’s in now will cease to exist- so who cares what happens to them- they will never have been once the time line is restored.

    why do people always call someone who disagress with them ‘trolls’, ‘trolling’, etc. you say that they say negative things- what do you think name calling is? do onto others. it takes one to know one.

    • websnap
      August 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm — Reply

      it’s an alternate timeline that the Reverse Flash created. It seems that he went back and changed a lot of things (which is why so many things have been altered). As to why he cares about the timeline he’s in there are two entwined answers. One is that the longer he stays in this time line the more his memories are getting swapped with ones that jive with the timeline he’s in. The other is that, as a hero, Barry is seeing people in trouble right here and now that he can help. if he fail to reverse the timeline, or as it’s going — forgets what it even used to be, he could have saved people in this timeline and didn’t. Which would be something he WOULD remember.

      Trolls are also those going onto an article/forum post they already dislike to poke and prod at those they don’t see eye to eye with. Where a genuine discussion could take place, it generally disintegrates to broad-stroke bashing. It’s one thing to disagree, but to go in and post on something you dislike anyway… yeah, that’s trolling.

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