Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope
Man, if Barry Allen isn’t the most stubborn guy in the DC Universe then I don’t know who is. Last issue he got hit by lightning, did not gain his speed, and got burns over the vast majority of his body. So how does he follow up? He goes and tries it again. That’s hardcore. This issue picks up where the last one left off, though after a brief interlude featuring Cyborg who proudly displays that he’s “Made in America” as things don’t go so well for him. Our cybernetic superhero failed to put together his team in the first issue, and last issue we saw Steve Trevor go down, which means the U.S. is ready to be impatient. It’s an interesting way to start the issue, making it clear that war is far more imminent than it had seemed before. Sure, the Amazon’s and Atlantean’s are at war, but America is on the fast track to stupidly joining in. This makes me laugh as much as it works for me.
Barry’s mulligan over last issues disastrous attempt at repowering himself is actually pretty nice. I mean, obviously Barry has to have powers, he’s in costume on the cover of every issue and a protagonist with third degree burns over three quarters of his body would be awful. And I’m not even a Barry fan! The motivation of wanting to save the world before he forgets it is interesting, as Barry is one of three people to retain their memories of the true universe, and of the three, he’s the only one not currently time displaced. Booster would have an immunity due to his nature as a traveler of time and the multiverse, while Kid Flash is another time traveler. But while Booster has seemingly no negative effects, and Bart is fading away, Barry is having his memories overwritten with those of this worlds Barry, which means sooner than later he’s not going to remember to change the world. This comes complete with new memories flooding in, like Barry’s mom telling him to date Patty. Have I mentioned I hate Patty lately? We also see Barry staring over the bridge to nowhere, which makes me wonder if Keystone City is going to prove to be important going forward in this story…or if its just an easter egg. Barry’s desire and desperation humanizes him more than they managed in his recent solo series, showing him willing to risk his life to try and get things right? It’s basic, but it’s a nice touch.
As is the brief cameo by Lois Lane as she meets the Resistance, which is seemingly led by…well, that’s a spoiler.
Once Barry is back to full speed it’s time to tie some stories together, as well as explain why Cyborg didn’t get his own mini as he becomes the third member of their group as they go after the man from the cover himself. The interplay between the three is interesting, to say the very least, as Cyborg is an optimistic hero who wants to save the world and finally make his father proud of him, while then you’ve got Batman who will do whatever it takes to accomplish his goals, even if it means using others. You’ve got the father who never got over the loss of his son, and the son who has never been able to gain the approval of their father. And then there’s Barry. Cyborg actually gets put over very nicely in this issue as Johns uses Batman to exposition just what Vic’s full potential could be, which didn’t surprise me, Johns has brought Cyborg along for the ride with a lot of his DC work over the years and it looks like he finally found the right way to raise his profile. He’s a very interesting hero, and having him alongside the very different Batman only helps to emphasize it.
Subject One is quite unique as well, because while yes, he’s Kal El of Krypton, he’s also spent twenty-seven years underground and has never seen the sun. He’s hardly the Man of Steel we’ve grown used to, and while his being alive means his isn’t the most drastic change we’ve had, I’m going to step out on a limb and say that this is the most dramatic redesign of a core character. Abin is alive, Diana and Arthur are at war with each other, and Bruce is dead, but Superman is pencil thin and white as a sheet. I’m very intrigued about what’s to come with this variant of the world greatest hero.
Andy Kubert does a damn good job here, especially with Cyborg who only seems to look cooler the more time he gets on panel. The early Barry stuff looks great, just like the stuff last issue. I can’t imagine anyone has a bad time drawing Barry Allen getting hit by lightning, that seems like some sort of awesome prize. One complaint though is that despite Thomas Wayne as Batman placing him quite a few years older than everyone else there, what with him being the father of someone who would be Barry’s age, and yet the only thing ‘old’ about his look is the stubble. He doesn’t really look much older than Bruce as Batman, and while I’m not saying he needs to be a crotchety old man, it would be nice if the face looked aged or if the body wasn’t built like a he-man at thirty. Subject One is also an interesting design, and honestly, it’s one of those ways you just never really thought to imagine Big Blue being. Honestly, I think what Kubert does best here is just go ahead and be Andy Kubert, he’s got an amazing style that is perfectly suited for superheroes, and his work in this issue only serves to make everything around it that much better. I love the fact that he kept working at DC instead of running back to the X-Men.
For being the third issue of a five issue event that will change the face of everything, not a whole lot happened here. Yes, Barry got his speed and Cyborg joined our motley crew of heroes, and sure, we got our first real look at Subject One, but the story wasn’t leaping and bounding forward. Johns gave us a more character driven story here as opposed to heavy action, and in all honesty, I could have gone for some more punching of things. The end of the issue was nice, but it was too little too fast. At the same time, I also kinda want to see where things go from here as if Barry is trying to assemble a JLA, I want to know who is next, and I also want to see more of the Resistance. It’s not a perfect issue, but there’s a lot of little things that I personally enjoyed. I do feel like this issue would have worked a lot better if the event was seven issues long instead of five, as the pacing is just all wrong. There are two issues left, and it’s still not exactly clear what our heroes have to do. Are they going to stop the Aquaman/Wonder Woman war? Will we see Barry vs. Zoom? And just how exactly do they fix time? Oh, and where is J’onn?!
Tags: andy kubert, Batman, Cyborg, Flashpoint (DC Comics), Geoff Johns, Reviews, The Flash