Geoff Johns’ FLASHPOINT’s Lasting Impact & The Blackest Night / Brightest Day Lessons

There is a lot of speculation about what DC’s Flashpoint will actually turn out to be. I actually think that it will have long-lasting effects (well, long-lasting in terms of comic books) like Blackest Night. It won’t be a 5-month contained Elseworlds tale if DC’s recent editorial approaches provide us with a glimpse of DC “event” group think.

Also, check out all the key Flashpoint flash-facts at the end of this column. They will get you up to speed 😉 on where we are today with DC’s 2011 mega-event. Comics Nexus is your Flashpoint headquarters.


What’s the Endgame for Flashpoint?

What has had me thinking for a while has been the question of “what the impact of Geoff John’s Flashpoint after it’s over?”  If it just features 15 Elseworlds type alternate Earth mini-series, and a few yet-to-be-announced one-shots, with no lasting features after the inevitable reversion to a more status-quo-like DCU timeline, then no matter how entertaining it might be, it should be deemed a failure.  

If however, like Blackest Night, the main Flashpoint 5-issue series and its companion titles, end with a newish DCU that with some new characters, old returned characters (from the dead or not), and using time-travel story staples like some timeline tweaks, then it could be seen as successful.

It has been said that what is most important in stories is the journey and not necessarily the destination (since many story outcomes seem to be inspired by like outcomes across the entertainment medium – e.g. the mantra that “there are no new ideas anymore”).

That said, I have always found that if you could have a truly entertaining and emotional journey (through the main event series and, if you choose to read them, its adjunct titles) plus a really impactful outcome (at the end of the series, typically its last issue) then THAT is a true mark of a successful comic book event.


What can be learned from Blackest Night and Brightest Day?

One can argue about how subtle those outcomes should be. If one looks at Brightest Day, which followed Blackest Night, DC did some interesting things by having the bi-weekly Brightest Day maxi-series featuring the returned-from-the-dead characters from Blackest Night. That seemed like an appropriate way to spotlight the characters. On the other hand, DC really did fail creatively with its Brightest Day “banner” books. They weren’t integral to the bi-weekly maxi-series, but just featured the returned characters.

DC seemed to have been ca$hing in on the year-long Brightest Day event with its loose companion books like Green Arrow (and its forest), Justice League: Generation Lost, etc., having NO impact on the main Brightest Day storyline. That’s not a comment on how good those companion series are/were, but more of a comment on whether they were important or not to the overarching Brightest Day narrative. DC would have been better served to let the characters make it on their own in these books, like Jade’s solid outing in James Robinson’s Justice League of America (even though JLA had “the” banner), than make a Brightest Day promise to readers on the cover of these books that was, in the majority of cases (even in the JLA), unrealized.

Regardless of how you feel about Blackest Night, it had an emotional story at its core with the reanimated dead pulling on the heart strings of their living friends, families, and colleagues. DC needs Flashpoint to have a lasting (again, in comic book terms) impact like Blackest Night did with the returns of:

–          Maxwell Lord (part of Justice League: Generation Lost)
–          Professor Zoom (part of Flash and Flashpoint)
–          Jade (part of Justice League of America)
–          Hawk (part of Birds of Prey)
–          Captain Boomerang (part of Flash)
–          Osiris (part of Titans)
–          Firestorm / Ronnie Raymond (part of Brightest Day)
–          Martian Manhunter (part of Brightest Day)
–          Aquaman (part of Brightest Day)
–          Hawkman (part of Brightest Day)
–          Hawkgirl (part of Brightest Day)
–          Deadman (part of Brightest Day)

So, the impactful end of Blackest Night was the return of these beloved characters.

And, despite recent happenings with Hawkman and Hawkgirl, their story is not likely over.


The Needed Flashpoint Fixes & The Usual Suspects

There are still many DC heroes that have some messes in their past. There are confusing and convoluted timelines that could be “fixed” with an impactful end to Flashpoint. Below are the Top 5 characters that need a consistent backstory fix that could be make them more relevant in modern times.

  1. Hawkman & Hawkgirl/woman – DC has several generational characters in the DCU. We have the golden age Green Lantern, Flash, and Starman alive alongside their modern age counterparts. With the confusion that the Hawkman franchise been in since the early 1990s, DC has an opportunity to clean up the franchise once and for all to allow for both a golden age Hawkman (Carter Hall) and Hawkgirl (Sheira Sanders/Hall) fighting alongside the JSA while seeing the return of the more sci-fi Hawkman (Katar Hol) and Hawkwoman (Shayera Thal) alongside the JLA. Perhaps even a “Hawkworld” book featuring them all (Marvel does have its Hulks and She-Hulks books afterall)?
  2. Shazam / Captain Marvel – What a mess this franchise has been since before Judd Winick’s Trials of Shazam. Let’s use Flashpoint to retcon that out of existence and get back to a viable Shazam franchise with Billy, Mary and Freddy in their Marvelous roles while Black Adam, Isis and Osiris become active again. There is a lot that can be done with a new Power of Shazam book that focuses both sides of the family tree.
  3. Atom (Ryan Choi) This character was killed unceremoniously and is as important and diverse a voice to the DCU as Jamie Reyes’ Blue Beetle is. The injustice of Ryan’s death needs to be revisited. His death can be undone.
  4. Wonder Woman – The character has not be relevant to the DCU story-wise in a long-time. With her current storyline, there is an opportunity to re-establish her and make her VITAL to the DCU.
  5. Superman – It is time Superman was a force to be reckoned with. He had a part in Time Masters: Vanishing Point which seemingly sets up Flashpoint. As such, DC needs to do something to make the character integral to the DCU again. And, despite Secret Origin, I imagine his timeline is far from firm.

 
Considering that Blackest Night dramatically affected 12 characters returned from the dead, my measly Top 5 above seems rather unambitious. Are there others you feel will be have a Flashpoint hangover after the series wraps?

With new ongoing books like Batman Beyond set in the future, and oldies like Jonah Hex in the past, these seem like 2 books that could get Flashpointed.

In addition, I would have anticipated that the Legion of Super-Heroes would feature prominently in Flashpoint, and they still may, but DC has already begun revitalizing the franchise with the same named series plus a companion book in Adventure Comics. So, beyond XS officially being a greater presence in the Legion, I don’t see that this franchise needs much post Flashpoint help.

However, I do see the Justice Society of America needing the Flashpoint rub. The book, part of a 2-book franchise with its All-Stars companion, have been floundering since Geoff Johns left the main JSA title. There is a need to re-establish the team as a major force in the DCU. And, since they were a large part of DC’s last attempt in the early 1990s to firm up DC’s timeline in Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, I do see them playing a role in Flashpoint.

And, so, I leave you with 3 questions:

–          What do you expect from Flashpoint?
–          Do you think it will have a relatively “lasting” impact?
–          Which characters or franchises need the Flashpoint rub?

Cheers and thanks for reading. See you next time. 🙂


KEY LINKS

MAJOR connection between Grant Morrison’s FINAL CRISIS and Geoff Johns’ FLASHPOINT can be found here.

Plus preview pages from Flash #9 are here and it kicks of the Road to Flashpoint arc.

Plus, will Superboy-Prime be in Flashpoint too?

 
And, don’t forget to check out what we know so far from the teases from DC titles. They can be found here.

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