Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Andy Kubert, Jesse Delperdang, and Alex Sinclair
The penultimate issue of DC’s big event is upon us, and while the New 52 is coming out of this, this issue doesn’t feel like it’s heading in that direction. I actually salute that, because Johns is writing his epic event of altered history needing to be fixed, and it just happens that the relaunch will stem from it. Not that he’s writing an event to explain away the relaunch, as that would probably leave us with a far different, and most likely inferior, product. As it stands, Johns spends this issue with the goal in mind that our heroes need to fix this world, and that just might involve saving it in the process. The end result is an issue that focuses primarily on our heroes as they add a few more members to their trio, and then bring the fight directly to the warring races.
That’s right, this issue spends the latter pages with our heroes dropped in to the middle of a war zone between Aquaman and Wonder Woman and their forces. A scene that is, frankly, epic, but also one I’ll revisit later in the review so I’m not just jumping around.
So far every issue has brought us at least one new character to Barry’s Not-Quite-The-Justice-League, with Batman coming in during issue one, Cyborg in number three, and then the failed Superman attempt in number three. This issue brings us the Marvel Family of Flashpoint who receive a nice amount of focus after being both an intriguing new take on the fan favorite characters, as well as being horrible underutilized. The kids make for an interesting point of view for the issue, as when we first see them the entire ‘Marvel family’ is watching the news broadcast about the impending war and trying to think of what to do. Some of them want to go, turn into Captain Thunder, and fight back. Others would rather sit quietly and not disobey the foster parents, or break the status quo that is watching American Idol and discussing food. There are seven of them, and that means different personalities for all, and it leads to a humanizing discussion but beings who possess the power of Gods. They have the power to fight back, but they could also die, and do they dare attempt it alone? I’m actually kind of glad that they were held off on for this issue, as I feel that more time spent with them prior to this issue would have actually hurt their appearance. Getting these under developed kids to help set the tone for the issue wound up being a very nice touch.
We also so the full debut of the Element Woman, who Barry immediately assumes is Metamorpho when he sees the powers in action. Element Woman, Emily Sung, is someone I can’t help but take an instant liking to. From the design, to the fact that she’s just happy to be there with the rest of the group, and all the way to the little pink gas clouds escaping from her word balloons; I liked her immediately. She’s sweet and optimistic in a world full of cynicism and doubt, a great big smile in a war torn world. If she does make the transition over to the New 52 I really hope they maintain this characterization out of her, as it has me immediately loving her to death. Metamorphwho?
Barry’s story remains much the same as it has over the past few issues. He wants to fix things, make the world the way it should be, but the longer he spends in this timeline the more it’s working against him. Even more memories flood in during this issue, trying to replace the ones he has from the proper timeline, trying to put a stop to his mission. Thankfully he has Batman with him, as Thomas Wayne has grown as a character over these past few issues, this isn’t about him or his quest for vengeance. This is about making sure a world comes into existence where he died and not his son, about sacrificing his life for Bruce. Batman gets to be a father in this series, and while he may have started a complete skeptic, but now he’s fully in support of this mission to fix things…to the point where his mindset has become all or nothing. They either fix the world or it can just go ahead and end.
The scenes of the war (I said I’d get back to it!) aren’t many, but they are powerful. Aquaman vs Wonder Woman is something that has been building since this book was just a series of promos, and it’s nice to finally see some payoff from it. Of course, there are a few twists, and quite a bit of blood spilled, but when all is said and done…the issue ends feeling like there really is only one left.
Andy Kubert does an amazing job, yet again. From the little things like Hal Jordan preparing to take the bomb to the Amazons, and the faces telling the story between him and Hector better than any dialogue could, to the design work on characters like Element Woman and Captain Thunder. It’s a great looking issue. The fight scenes, especially the Aquaman/Wonder Woman fight look spectacular, the devastation in the background, the bodies strewn all over the place. He makes it look like it’s a war, it isn’t just implied in the dialogue. On top of that, the face work comes back into play with our two angry monarchs as you can see the hate in their eyes. Then there are the splash pages, which look great and show off just how well Andy does superheroes. The last page, as simple as it is, is a testament to what he can do. Two characters, and a lot of detail, it feels like it could easily be the end of the world.
Well shit, I just said that the last page looks like the end of the world. Not a huge spoiler though, I mean, the way things are going that’s one of two options you get, up there with “fix everything”. The issue started a bit slow, but Johns packed it with characterization both big and small, and the end result is you caring just that much more when something happens later on in the issue. This hasn’t been the best paced event I’ve seen out of Geoff, but it’s also not the worst and this issue in particular does a much better job with pacing than I would have expected. Heck, I thought this series would be no less than six issues, so I’m pleasantly surprised to see it coming towards an organic ending instead of everything just randomly happening to happen. That isn’t to say that nothing randomly happens to happen in this issue, but not to the degree it could. Our heroes going to Aquaman and Wonder Woman doesn’t feel forced, in fact, it feels like it’s the best possible place for things to go.
Now I just can’t wait to see how it ends.
Tags: andy kubert, Batman, Captain Marvel, Cyborg, DC Comics Relaunch, Flashpoint (DC Comics), Geoff Johns, Reviews, The Flash