Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope
So how do you follow up the debut issue of a reality warped event that hit the ground running, and has a bunch of tie ins that have begun to launch, but without coming across like a giant advertising? Well, for one, you don’t put a full page “Read these books for these plots” ad (this title has the master list that has been advertised in every DC book for a month or two now), and for two….you do world building that actually adds to the core story you’re trying to tell. Take this title, for instance, Johns could keep the focus strictly on Barry, but given that the fleshing out of the world of Flashpoint (read: tie in minis) hadn’t begun until this week we were provided with more of that in this issue.
In fact, the issue opens up with Deathstroke and his crew (made up of characters like Sonar, Electric Eel, and Clayface) coming across Aquaman and Ocean Master in the remains of Paris. It doesn’t immediately make me want to read the Deathstroke mini, or even the Aquaman one. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if this moment is even omitted from at least one of them. Later we’re treated to Wonder Woman and her interrogation of a somewhat familiar prisoner, and the pages are used not only to put over Diana’s ruthlessness but also the premise of another title. How is this not an advertisement, when four different minis are pushed in one issue? Because they were used to put over the drastic changes in this world, more so than to say ‘buy this book’. Johns does a nice job showing us just what all is going on, and making the point that Flashpoint is not just a Barry Allen story.
Now, as for Barry, our lead character, he spends the issue with Batman. This begins with Bats beating the piss out of Barry, who is without speed and trying to rationalize the situation out loud. Now, ask yourself a question, how would you feel if some guy shows up in your secret basement talking about your son dying instead of you, complete with details? Especially if you’re surly, paranoid, and filled with rage? Yeah, it goes like you’d expect. At one point Barry gets a random mass info dump, his memories change, and that’s where he realizes that he didn’t get shunted off to a new timeline. He discovers the villain a page later, and the story flows from there. Barry and Thomas Wayne discussing Bruce, Thomas’s reactions to what the world changing would mean…pitch perfect. They make a good team once the initial ‘two good guys meet: fight!’ opening subsides.
I continue to enjoy Andy’s art in this series, from the faces to the general designs. The issue looks cool, especially Paris and London. The spread to open the issue, of Paris post-Aquaman…chilling. Wonder Woman in action is brutal, and she comes across as such, but Kubert does one panel, one small little panel of her eyes and you can see the humanity seep through. From monster to normal woman with just a few words. Deathstroke and his crew look great, but I’ll admit that Aquaman himself is somewhat underwhelming. Maybe it’s just the way his face is drawn in the first shot, but the first thought I had on his look was that he was the angry ‘special’ guy, though by the second panel I see the anger and rage and it goes away. Now what about Barry and Bats? Barry never gets to put on a costume in this issue, so while he’s interacting with a Batman that never takes his costume off it creates an interesting dynamic. Kubert uses Barry’s face and expressions to help push the story along, and while I’ll never proclaim my love for Barry, he looks good in this issue. Batman is another cool visual, and I love the always glowing red eyes. He’s cold and detached, making the singular moment of joy he experiences stand out that much more.
We’re two issues in, three to go, and everything changes come September. That’s a pretty lofty goal to reach, but this issue establishes a focus for Barry. The goal is to change things back, but it’s not exactly made clear how to do such a thing. Wonder Woman and Aquaman are at war, and while it’s obvious that the backdrop of the entire series will hinge around that fact, the two are given a slow build in this issue. The issue isn’t perfect, and it could be called underwhelming, but the bottom line is that it did its job amazingly. I want issue three, and not just because I’m going to review it. I want to see what happens next, I care about the world of Flashpoint and I care about the September relaunch. I’m intrigued by just how exactly it comes to pass, and as far as books go that lead to such a giant change? This one was pretty damn enjoyable.
Tags: andy kubert, Flashpoint (DC Comics), Geoff Johns, Reviews, The Flash