Or – “One Time Where I’m Glad It’s Barry Allen…”

As much as I have not cared for the revamped and relaunched “Ultimate” Barry Allen, I am glad this game-changing miniseries is all about Flash II.  Since he ushered in the original universal change back in ’54, it’s fitting that he be at the forefront as we do it again for a new age.  But how do we get from here to there?

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker(s): Sandra Hope & Jesse Delperdang
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on Flashpoint:  A routine day of police work led to a number of shocking discoveries for CSI Barry Allen:  His long-ago-murdered mother was still alive.  His super-powered alter-ego had never existed.  And the entire world had somehow been reshaped by external forces into a dystopian nightmare, where all his Justice League friends were either gone, unrecognizable, or both.  In a last ditch effort, he managed to recreate the accident that gave him super-speed, and hook up with this world’s Batman, Thomas Wayne (father of our world’s version.)  Together, they found themselves at the center of a war between Wonder Woman and Aquaman that would lead to certain doom for the entire world.  And then Professor Zoom showed up…

$#!+’s About To Get Real…

It’s always interesting to see where a character hits his breaking point.  In a world gone mad, surrounded by death, having watched a 13 year old boy get gutted last issue, Barry Allen stands face to face with the man who murdered his wife, the man who killed his parents, the man whose obsession led to this moment…  and he loses it.  A super-speed barrage of fists should lead to a Chuck Norris moment, where the hero grits his teeth and spits and says “Now we save th’ world.”  Instead, Reverse-Flash easily deflects Barry’s blows, LAUGHING in his face, and telling him the awful truth:  “You’re the villain today!”  Andy Kubert does a great job rendering the battle sequences, and the utter shock on Barry Allen’s face as he suddenly remembers is particularly effective.  R-Flash gloats some more, taunting Barry about how this all happened, how Barry himself tried to change time, how Barry stopped Reverse-Flash seconds before he would have killed Barry’s mother, and how this ham-fisted attempt to “fix” things led the world to the mess it is today.  Aside form the fact that it’s a pretty amazing revelation (and it is), what makes this sequence fun is Professor Zoom’s utter loathing at how Barry’s time-stream adjustment were amateurish, not like his own artistic work.  Really loving the Reverse-Flash moments here, and this is what Flash: Rebirth SHOULD have been.

Batman…  Always Batman!  Always Driving Villains BATS!

Eobard Thawne then opens up a can of lightspeed whupa$$ on his old frenemy, finally able to do whatever he wants to the Flash without damaging his own timeline, because he’s a time paradox now.  He can even KILL Barry in cold blood, and takes a moment to gloat about how much he loves this moment… 

…before the Batman stabs him through the heart.  The fighty-fighty continues around them, but Bruce and Barry have another agenda, a more important one:  Save the universe that could have been.  Now, we all know where this is going, but it’s really well-done, and for a three-issue flash-in-the-pan (no pun intended), this alternate Batman is a remarkably strong character.  After a quick visit with mommy (which is sentimental and sweet, but serves mostly to remind me that all the DC characters are absorbing Batman’s origin) Barry leaps into the time-stream, hoping that this leap with be the leap home.  Somehow, though, reality has been splintered, and THREE timelines are there.  A mysterious someone whispers in his ear that he is the key, and Barry is subtly transformed into his new “liney-boots and chinstrap” Jim Lee costume, and awakens at his desk.  The issue ends with Barry finding that he’s back home (sort of) and taking a letter to his old friend Bruce, a letter written by a father who died twenty-odd years ago…

The Verdict:  Nicely Handled, Veruca.

 Here’s the great news:  this issue works.  Knowing in advance that we were going to end up with a new universe out of it, I had worried that Flashpoint would devolve into a ‘What If?’ style series of murders and only Barry making it out unscathed.  Instead, we get a couple of interesting moments (Grifter makes an appearance, seemingly setting up his new prominence, while Superman gets a moment in the sun) with the cast of the alternate reality, and a shocking revelation, leading to an intriguing moment that leads into things.  Most of all, we get the quiet and warm ending of two old friends sharing a moment, as a tearful Bruce thanks Barry for bringing him his father’s letter.  In short, it could have gone much worse.  The downsides come in the fact that big swathes of the issue are nothing but fighty-fighty, and certain characters show up, yell their battle cry and then disappear.  The Wonder Woman/Aquaman war gets no resolution here, and Billy Batson is well-and-truly dead, but given that they had a limited number of pages to work with, I think that they delivered a strong issue. 

Most of all, I started thinking back to the last few times I’ve finished an issue that was clearly the gateway to a new universe, and how I felt after each one.  After Crisis On Infinite Earths #12, I was hopeful and shocked.  After Zero Hour #0, I was annoyed.  After Infinite Crisis #6, I was confused, hopeful and hungry.  After Final Crisis #6, I had to wait a few hours for the dizziness to subside.  Flashpoint #5 has left me hopeful, intrigued, and wanting to read about this brave, new DCU, which is what a book like this needs to have done, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  I like to think I’m pretty savvy as a reader, and I enjoy when I’m actually surprised by the way the plot unfolds.  It’s not a perfect comic book, but it’s a good one.  And now, the new Justice League awaits!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Will this story be the new DC “Days of Future Past”, or is it destined to be forgotten in the wake of all-new shiny shiny toys?

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. Ricco
    August 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm — Reply

    After the mysterious figure says to Barry that their timelines were divided to weaken them for “their” return and reading JLA #1, I had this creepy feeling in my gut that eventually lead me to this frightening idea: since it’s an all new universe are they setting up a Crisis event? With the return of the New Gods/Gods of Apokalypse as the main threat? Am I reading too much into this? Please say yes.

  2. Armaan
    August 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm — Reply

    Actually, Flashpoint issues 4 & 5 were a gigantic disappointment to me. They seemed to belittle the WHOLE Flashpoint event and the large, numerous tie-ins. The explanation of a new universe seemed annoyingly rushed, and the big reveal just made the the fifty or so other stories seem kinda silly.

    • websnap
      September 1, 2011 at 10:05 am — Reply

      I liked it actually, I thought that it was the only time to flesh out some of these Flashpoint characters as they most likely won’t be around again in this context (Kal as a lab rat, Thomas Wayne, Murderous Martha, Diana actually LEADING the amazons). I thought that with all the fires that would have needed to be put out, the flashpoint timeline could (literally it appears) not be saved.

      I only had two issues with the event as a whole. 1)WHo the hell was the character Black out supposed to be? 2) WHy does Barry remember all of the Flashpoint event? Hard to believe a relaunch will stick if one of the characters remembers what it see to be like.

  3. Russ Catt
    August 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm — Reply

    I think I need a little explication on the big double-page spread that shows the time-line merge.
    What exactly are we seeing in all the sections?

    I get the upper-left one. They’re the DC comic characters that were in the mainline DCU and then got pulled into Vertigo and now are getting remerged.

    The others I can guess at but am not sure on.
    Can someone help me out?

    Great review, as always. Hope the tooth is behaving again.

    • August 31, 2011 at 6:32 pm — Reply

      Great review, as always. Hope the tooth is behaving again.

      Not even a little bit. As for the double-page spread, I think the “three timelines” refers to the Wildstorm Universe, the DC Universe, and the Vertigo Universe, but I could be wrong. First time I read it, I thought it referred to the original timeline, the post-Crisis timeline, and New Earth, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it.

      • Jimmy
        September 1, 2011 at 9:19 am — Reply

        That was how I interpreted that double page spread as well, but one of my friends is convinced that it somehow means that the DCnU is temporary and is going to be recombined with the previous DCU timeline in a “Crisis on Infinite Timelines.”

        Which is possible, but that’s not the reading I got out of it.

        • September 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm — Reply

          That was how I interpreted that double page spread as well, but one of my friends is convinced that it somehow means that the DCnU is temporary and is going to be recombined with the previous DCU timeline in a “Crisis on Infinite Timelines.”

          Well, I wouldn’t discount anything, but I think your friend is seeing conspiracies in the shadows like Colonel Flagg.

  4. TaZ
    August 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm — Reply

    So the final “merge” of the Vertigo, Wildstorm and “mainline” DCU is complete and it was all caused by Barry Allen himself wanting to save his mother (who DIDN’T die at the hands of Reverse Flash pre-Brightest Day) and thus giving one of the last tie-ins with Brightest Day (which, apparently, only served to create the other “Rainbow Corps” and bring back some characters from “the Dead”.

    Here’s hoping that only Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne keep the knowledge of “Flashpoint” to themselves until the story of who the colored faced chick is and the next “crisis” in the DCU.

    The New Gods back? No problem with that. I’ve always enjoyed the infinite stories involving Darkside and his baddies although the wusses from New Genesis (other than Orion) have never interested me much.

    So from here we get to find out exactly how much change this “relaunch” and combine of these three “realities” is set up and who’s still around. So far we know that the JSA from “New Earth” is gone and that will continue on Earth-2. Bart Allen appears to be gone as Kid Flash until we see who’s under the Kid Flash mask in the new Teen Titans group (Wally West, I hope). Batman and family will continue almost status quo with the exception of Babs Gordon returning as Batgirl (although it will be interesting to see how we got Dick Greyson, Jason Todd and Damian Wayne all rolled in as Robin if Bruce Wayne has been Batman for just over 5 years. The GL mythos will be pretty much the same except now it’s a FACT that Hal Jordan is an egotistical, womanizing blowhard in his younger days.

    One panel that I really marveled at? Skinny Superman coming straight down and SQUASHING the Enchantress into the ground like a cock-roach. Now THAT’S something a super powered guy that’s been stuck in a box in the ground most of his life would do when he got pissed. The other was Thomas Wayne’s comment to Reverse Flash after he turned him into a shish-kabab to remind him that fast is not the same as invunerable: “In a war…don’t turn your back.”

    So…here we are now in the brave new world of DCU after months of discussion, teasers, fussing, cheering and debating about pants and wearing your underwear on the outside of your tights. My decision? Other than the return of Steve Rogers as Captain America there has been little that Marvel’s done with “Fear Itself” and “Schism” to make me read their stuff now instead of sticking with the major reads being DC. I’ll probably skip Action Comics but some of the other titles I’ll check out until I feel otherwise. Roy Harper being a redneck with a baseball cap and ink kinda reminds me of some of my deer-hunting relatives anyway.

    I will, however, dearly miss the Thomas Wayne Batman and Aquaman doing his Submariner impersonation. Here’s hoping Thomas shows up somewhere else in the multiverse with Martha “Joker” Wayne still alive to harass him.

    • Brainy Pirate
      August 31, 2011 at 9:56 pm — Reply

      I laughed at Wayne’s comment to Thawne because I make fun of TV and Movie villains all the time for not shooting the hero when they get the chance but instead yapping about how they’ve won — giving the hero just enough time to find a way out (or for the cavalry to arrive).

      All villains should heed Thawne’s advice. Of course, if they did, we’d have lots more dead heroes….

  5. Kent Nelson
    August 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm — Reply

    I’ve read Flashpoint #5 three times now, and I honestly have to say the first time I read it I was disappointed, as I expected to be. The second time I read it, I thought it was brilliant, and the third time I read it, I didn’t know what to think. Lots of great stuff going on, especially the sneering, pompous Thwane and his revelation to Flash. A very ingenious plot twist I didn’t see coming, and loved. But where was Barry Allen’s devastation? I would love to have seen him at Thwane’s feet broken mentally and physically, having a nervous breakdown at the realization that his actions were the cause of everything. Barry meeting his mother for a final conversation (wouldn’t we all love to have that with loved ones long gone?) was brilliant, as was the letter to Bruce from his father. I definitely felt a lump in my throat.
    That being said, there were so many things left unresolved. We as readers were dragged through every minute detail of the Atlantean/Amazon war, only to have that left completely unresolved. Superman showing up was a great scene, but for what purpose? To say “No more.”, give Aquaman a slug in the jaw and nothing more? I enjoyed how the peripheral stories were all leading to, and converging toward, the end, and then it all, for me, fell flat on its face. Flashpoint #5 could have easily been a double issue and been given much more weight and detail. The last half of #5 seemed rushed (“Oh boy! We only have 6 pages left, we better wrap this up somehow!”) and left me feeling like I’d been hoodwinked into following a story that didn’t know how to properly wrap itself up other than to have the Flash just run really fast (again!) to fix everything. I finished Flashpoint with the feeling that all of this was just a long, drawn-out way to introduce the new DCU and milk the readers for some cash along the way. MEH…

    • August 31, 2011 at 6:30 pm — Reply

      The last half of #5 seemed rushed (“Oh boy! We only have 6 pages left, we better wrap this up somehow!”) and left me feeling like I’d been hoodwinked into following a story that didn’t know how to properly wrap itself up other than to have the Flash just run really fast (again!) to fix everything.

      I’m probably a cynic, but I didn’t expect this alternate reality to ever have any resolution. I figured it would all get blowed up, and Barry would escape to the original/new universe.

      • Kent Nelson
        August 31, 2011 at 8:09 pm — Reply

        I didn’t really expect complete resolution or finality, either, but so much was left hanging, it just felt like they didn’t know what to do. But of course now, there is a DCU out there where there is perpetual war between the Atlanteans and the Amazons. Anyone else thinking what I’m thinking?

  6. Arbor Day
    August 31, 2011 at 6:20 pm — Reply

    All the cookies go to you for the Quantum Leap reference.

  7. eric
    August 31, 2011 at 9:22 pm — Reply

    This crap just sounds like DC had an extra idea to wast time with and let some one do it. Hell they could have put all those pages into some other books and given readers more for their money. I cant wait to visit my shop next week and pull all my stuff and tell the manager no more pull on my list. It is over.

  8. slayme
    September 1, 2011 at 12:15 am — Reply

    @Ricco – I think you are spot on – that’s exactly what it is IMO.

  9. JRCM
    September 1, 2011 at 12:26 am — Reply

    I have a question I hope someone can solve!, What about the 52 different earths that got revealed at the end of the 52 weeks?? They exist? They dont? How they play out with this new world? FUCK I hate when things get unresolved and I got NOBODY to talk to about it…

    • TaZ
      September 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm — Reply

      Didio has already said that JSA will be relaunched but the stories will be set on Earth-2, not “New Earth/Earth-0” where the current DC/Vertigo/Wildstorm is not set. If that title will be the JSA it looks as if the Flashpoint has had an effect on the continuity of that reality as well as the Earth-2 of the “52” multiverse was shown to be home of the Justice Society Infinity (JSA Annual 2008) where most of the JSA heroes were passed on or retired and the remaining merged with the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Infinity, Inc. I would be willing to bet that the “former” DCU ends up somewhere, perhaps Earth-50 where the Wildstorm “universe” was supposed to be set.

  10. brenton8090
    September 1, 2011 at 5:13 am — Reply

    I still don’t understand how Flashpoint was going on, but they still had their regular titles. Oh well.

    I like how much of the issue was preaching to hater-fans. All that stuff from Barry’s mom about how “Even if the timelines change, these memories still happened?” ANd Bruce’s stuff about how all those memories are a gift? It’s a clear fanboy statement: all those stories you loved still happened. They still exist. Now lets try something different.

    Wel played.

    • Kent Nelson
      September 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm — Reply

      @ brenton8090:
      “It’s a clear fanboy statement: all those stories you loved still happened. They still exist. Now lets try something different.”
      Well put!

      • TaZ
        September 1, 2011 at 5:26 pm — Reply

        As my favorite wrestling commentator Gordon Solie would have said: “Indeed.”

  11. James
    September 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm — Reply

    Flashpoint 5 is my last DC comic purchase. Sad, but it is the end.

    • September 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm — Reply

      Flashpoint 5 is my last DC comic purchase. Sad, but it is the end.

      That is your right as the consumer, and I urge everyone who is up in arms about how horrible this whole relaunch is expected to be to do the same and stick to your guns! Of course, I also recommend that you make certain that you know what it is you’re boycotting as well…

  12. Casaloki
    September 2, 2011 at 4:55 am — Reply

    The cloaked woman, giving Barry the advice to merge the three timelines, is this Destiny from the endless?

    • September 2, 2011 at 10:51 am — Reply

      The cloaked woman, giving Barry the advice to merge the three timelines, is this Destiny from the endless?

      If it is, Destiny has changed genders…

      • Casaloki
        September 3, 2011 at 4:06 am — Reply

        Yeah, but if it’s an Endless, wheres the problem? They have no gender.

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