Or – “The Answer To The Question, ‘What If?’ “

As we wrap up the events of the Flashpoint Universe, I remember the lesson of Marvel’s What If comics of my youth:  When we look at an alternate universe, things will inevitably look worse in comparison, and usually leave one or more people dead as a mackerel.  Why am I reminded of this?  Glad you asked…

FLASHPOINT: CITIZEN COLD #3
Writer: Scott Kolins
Artist: Scott Kolins
Colorist: Mike Ativer
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Flashpoint – Citizen Cold:  Len Snart is a hard man in all worlds, but in this one, at least, he is a hero.  In the absence of Barry Allen, he is Central City’s greatest defender, but a defender with a very dark secret.  Now, the truth about his past has come to light, and the Rogue’s Gallery (ironically his own allies in the regular DC Universe) is ready to kill him for his crimes.  But how will he only ally respond when SHE knows the awful truth?

A Great Setup…

I’ll say this for Geoff Johns:  He knows what makes certain characters tick.  His reimagining of Captain Cold as a flinty leader-of-men is one of the most successful (and long-term workable) retakes on DC’s classic villains, and the decision not to change a single aspect of his relatively-ludicrous costume provides a great visual balance to the tough-guy dialogue.  Scott Kolins draws a mean Captain…  Pardon me, a mean Citizen Cold, and this issue begins with Snart beaten bloody, unconscious on Iris West’s couch.   Before he awakens, Iris realizes that he has purchased two plane tickets to Dubai (one in his name, one in hers) before Snart awakens and plants a big wet kiss on her.  Elsewhere, the Rogue’s Gallery regroups after being blown up last issue, and I am quite amused to find that the evil mirror universe version of Weather Wizard has a Spock-goatee.  The alternate Pied Piper, on the other hand, seems to have had part of his face disfigured, has a mechanical voicebox, and blames Citizen Cold for the murder of his best friend…  the late WALLY WEST.

Whaddaycall A Beautiful Plate With Nothin’ On It?

Y’know what always confuses me?  When a new Rogue is released, joining the likes of the Trickster, Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master and other clever names, they always seem to have a name like ‘Tarpit’ or ‘Murmur’ or ‘Basement.’  In a group with the originals, it’s as if the creators want to make certain we know who the scrubs are.  Maybe someday they’ll graduate to being Doctor Peek-A-Boo or Commander Girder.  In any case, the Rogues prepare for war, but get out-maneuvered by Citizen Cold, and new guys Tarpit and Fallout are quickly put on ice…  Yeah, that one was too easy.  I don’t feel good about that one at all.  The battle goes poorly for Mirror Master and Weather Wizard as well, but leaves Cold severely wounded and running for ground.  When he reaches his hideout, he finds Iris awaiting him, and thinks that she has agreed to run away with him.  Instead, he finds that she’s not alone, as the Pied Piper has told her the story of how Cold killed his pal Wally (whom sharp-witted readers will recall is/was Iris’ beloved nephew.)  And the end, when it comes, is both poetic and awful.

The Verdict: Where’s Uatu?

The Flashpoint universe is the quintessential crapsack world, and Len Snart’s story has been particularly emblematic of what a terrible place it is and not a whole lot else.  The three issues of this book seemed to be an example of a story that was well set up and thought out, but really didn’t have much of anywhere to go after that.  Would Iris find out the truth?  Well, it wouldn’t really be all that much of a story if she didn’t.  That said, it wasn’t boring, and any excuse to look at Scott Kolins art is a good excuse, and it gave Captain Cold (one of the characters I’ve always secretly kind of liked, when done correctly) a nice moment in the sun (you should excuse the expression.)  I didn’t care for the downer ending, and there was a trifle too much Iris West worship (even Barry’s SUPPORTING cast gets special treatment post-Final Crisis) for my liking, but overall it wasn’t a bad issue.  Flashpoint – Captain Cold #3 sets up some interesting things, but devolves into a series of murders and kind of comes apart in the end, earning mixed feelings and 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Have there ever been any alternate realities that are perfect utopias?  Wouldn’t that be fun for once, to have the hero trying to get home and realizing that he’s undoing paradise?

 

 

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. Brainy Pirate
    August 12, 2011 at 9:19 pm — Reply

    I thought most alternate realities hinge on the idea that they’re worse than the main reality. If they’re better, wouldn’t we want to read those stories instead?

    The recent Superman Retro 80s has a version of your question in which Superman must choose between a paradise without human freedom and a reality in which lots of his best friends die.

    • Brainy Pirate
      August 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm — Reply

      I meant to add in the first paragraph there: think of how many alternate reality stories are used as excuses to kill as may characters as possible.

  2. Lee Goldberg
    August 12, 2011 at 9:25 pm — Reply

    “What if?: Siege” basically ended with the whole universe be destroyed by the Void.

  3. The Great NateO
    August 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm — Reply

    Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Have there ever been any alternate realities that are perfect utopias? Wouldn’t that be fun for once, to have the hero trying to get home and realizing that he’s undoing paradise?

    You got my vote! It would neat to see what you would have them do if they get put into a reality that everyone is better off if they never were born. The super villains are normal and doing good things. Because of balance of the universe, evil need good to grow. So what do you do? Do you try and fix it and life in normal or let them live happily ever after?

    • Adam M
      August 13, 2011 at 11:20 am — Reply

      I remember a 2nd series issue of What If? that resolved the Evolutionary Wars by having all the mutants and superpowered heroes fly off into space led by Wolverine (meh) to fight bigger and badder opponents. While the heroes lived forever and fought their way through the Celestials (absurd)on the way to defeating Eternity (impossible), the regular humans stayed on earth and continued with their evolution. After generations, the “rest of us” grew big heads and were more powerful than our old heroes. I think it followed the story of humanity and its heroes until the end of the universe.
      I’m not sure if that was true utopia, but it was a pretty clever metaphor that keeps our comic book heroes the same forever and also shows that even if our heroes fight progressively larger challenges, they eventually become simply fond memories of our earlier days.

  4. Armaan
    August 13, 2011 at 1:51 am — Reply

    Um, there’s the one where Superman was raised by Darkseid – things actually ended up BETTER there than they did in the regular universe. The Nail storyline – that’s didn’t have too bad an ending. Sure. Favorite characters were killed off, but on the WHOLE it came to a pretty regular superhero universe with bad guys and good guys and day savings in between.
    “What if Elektra HADN’T Been Killed By Bullseye?”(or something to that effect) actually made the REGULAR universe seem painfully horrible.
    And oooh! Oooh! MC2!

  5. ~wyntermute~
    August 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm — Reply

    .. Wasn’t “House Of M” supposedly a world where everybody got what they wanted (‘everybody’ meaning “Avengers & X-Men”) so they wouldn’t worry about it not being the reality they were used to? Maybe I’m misunderstanding the question, but it’s not like we had to look very far to find the ‘perfect other-world’. Honestly, I can’t figure out why the Marvel Heroes -wanted- to ditch the M-Verse. Except for Spidey, cuz he kinda screwed everything up for himself…

  6. Rome
    August 15, 2011 at 12:31 am — Reply

    Cable & Deadpool (in their aptly named title) traversed multiple dimentions, most of which where Cable was the supreme power of that Earth, and many of them were indeed Utopias. But Deadpool hated them because he couldn’t have his guns and weapons so he did his best to dismantle them and flee.

    I think the moral is… that Utopias aren’t always so utopian.

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