Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review: Flashpoint #3

I did not plan to review the main Flashpoint mini-series for any number of reasons.

Unlike other 'event' comics that I have reviewed (like War of the Supermen or Final Crisis), Flashpoint is clearly not a stand alone title. I didn't know if enough of the story would come out in the main book to make it worth reviewing as opposed to picking a few minis to focus on here. That approach (I think) worked for Blackest Night. I didn't review the main book here because so much of it played out in the GL books.

I also don't know if it necessarily fits the focus of this blog (not that that stopped me from reviewing Sif of REBELS).

But Flashpoint #3 was such a good read, just what an 'alternate universe' story should feel like, that I felt I had to take a closer look at the book here. It helped that Superman and the super-family played a bigger role here.

I will say that I keep trying to wrap my head around the eventual outcome of Flashpoint on the DCnU. My guess is that the changes in continuity are going to be explained away because Barry Allen rebuilt the 'right' timeline the best he could, but some ripples were inevitable. But this is such a bleak and pitiless world. I don't know if I want the undercurrent of the DCnU to be this place. Of course, that would explain a Supergirl that has no affection for humans so don't piss her off.

Geoff Johns has a good handle of the characters here, especially Barry's hope (he was a Blue Lantern), Thomas Wayne's despair and nihilism, and Cyborg's strength. And Andy Kubert, who I usually think is pedestrian, is really clicking here.

Barry is really the hero of this story, just like Hal was in Blackest Night.

One thing I thought was a nice wrinkle was that the new history of this world was basically re-writing Barry's memories. As time goes on, he might not remember the old world. He might begin to accept this world. Time is suddenly of the essence. He needs his powers and he needs to gather heroes to fight Zoom. I wonder just how far Johns will take this. In the last issue, will Barry wonder just what he is hoping to accomplish, will he not remember what he is fighting for? Again, it may explain DCnU, an amnestic Barry doing his best to right the timeline.

Knowing he needs to act, Barry asks Batman to fry him again in hopes of gaining his powers and luckily this time it works. He is again connected to the Speed Force. And Thomas Wayne starts to push Barry on his powers. Can Barry truly not change history? Or has he just never tried hard enough? I thought this was a good discussion. And much more believable than Thomas quickly accepting Barry's rantings as true last issue.

Barry knows he needs a JLA around him. He first looks for Hal, a nice nod to their long relationship. But when he sees Hal is not GL, he knows he needs Superman.

The issue at least touches on some of the mini-series. Here we see Lois searching for the Resistance to help stop a catastrophic Atlantean/Themiscyran battle the next day. We see the members of the Resistance, specifically Grifter, the first Wildstorm character officially planted into the DCU.

I hate to grouse about editorial complaints but it pained me to see Lois talk about the events of yesterady. This is the tent pole comic for DC. I don't need typos.

In the mean time, Cyborg's efforts to stop the war have been fruitless, probably due to a double agent on the inside.

Perhaps feeling a bit defeated, Vic decides to join Batman and the Flash in storming the gates of Project Superman to break out the most powerful being on the planet.

En route, Cyborg talks about the three subjects that fell to the Earth. So, I assume, Supergirl somehow is here.

Well, Subject 2 turned out to be Krypto. How sad.

Of course, maybe this means Krypto will 'survive' to the new DCnU since he existed here. I hope so.

But what of Subject 3? What of Supergirl? If she shows up as a brainwashed villain, I'll be pretty ticked off. If she turns up dead, I'll be angrier. Come on Geoff Johns, you have always done right by Kara before!

And then we see Subject 1, Superman, emaciated, gaunt, trapped in a Hannibal Lechter style plastic cell, bathing in red sun rays it seems. What a sad existence.

I have to say that this was a pretty striking image.

And it seems like this was more than mere incarceration. He looks ashen as if he has never seen the sun. He looks gaunt, a shadow of what we are used to seeing.

And he looks psychologically damaged.Was he isolated in The Vault? Did he have any human contact? We have seen plenty of Elseworlds were Superman was found by people other than the Kents ... Russians, Darkseid, the Waynes. And we have seen Elseworlds where Superman dies, or lives a peaceful life as a Quaker.

But I have never seen an Elseworlds where Superman was caged like this, unaware of who he is, what he is capable of, traumatized.

But those Kryptonian cells are thirsty and ready to drink. The heroes free Kal and bring him outside and almost immediately he is able to fly and shoot heat vision. But when he is called upon to help stop the projects guards, he flies off. Look that his face. It is a look of fear, not of the men I am sure, but of being put in that room again. This shows not only the psychological damage but the lack of that sense of truth and justice. This Superman just wants to escape. I am not used to seeing Superman run!

Will his body swell with muscle when he soaks in the yellow sun? Or will he remain this wiry ghost of a man? Will he come back out of gratitude? Is Superman's honor an aspect of his nature? Or his nurturing? Good questions for me to think about.

So overall, this was a very entertaining issue. I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting it. So this was a pleasant surprise in my stack. I hope this series isn't peaking here but building on itself.

But what of Subject 3? I hope DC does the right thing.

Overall grade: A


Kandou Erik said...

Flashpoint has turned out to be awesome, despite all of my initial skepticism. I keep finding myself wishing that it was longer than 5 issues (even with the countless mini-series)

And poor Krypto!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow! This looks great! I'm looking forwards to what Geoff comes up with Project 3. And Anj, I agree with you there. If she turns out to be dead or heaven forbid it-a brainwashed villain- I'll be ticked. Hopefully, she'll be done right. I still don't understand why the DCnU is making her a ticked off teen again, though... But in this world I guess it makes sense since Barry did the best he could with fixing the timestream's loopholes. -ealperin

Anonymous said...

S for the psychologically damaged Kal... That's a new spin that I've never seen before with him. Poor Kal! I hope he gets a bit of muscle on those bones! The style reminds me a bit of Gary Frank's recent run on Superman where he looks almost exactly like Christopher Reeve and Brainiac had a buff build! ^_^. This, I think, is what can be done well with Superman. As for Supergirl, I hope she isn't stuck in ticked-off-ville forever.

I'm just surprised,with this reboot, that there's STILL no mention of Linda Danvers, Cassandra Cain, or Stephanie Brown.-ealperin

Martin Gray said...

Glad you've had a nice surprise, Anj. Yes, where's Kara?

@ealperin But we've not had any Linda Danvers in absolutely ages, have I missed something (which reminds me, I still have to finish Reign of Fire or whatever that very orange mini-series was called).

Anonymous said...

Nop, you haven't missed a thing. I just miss Linda Danvers, that's all. IThe series was called "Reign in Hell"-she does pop in there-but I think she was poorly written after her first appearance back.-ealperin

Anonymous said...

Edit: Nope, you haven't missed a thing. I just miss Linda Danvers, that's all. IThe series was called "Reign in Hell"-she does pop in there-but I think she was poorly written after her first appearance back.-ealperin

valerie21601 said...

My guess about the end of Flashpoint and the start of the DCnU is that their timeline will partly go back to what it was. The survivors of Flashpoint will not consciously remember it but deep down in the core of their unconscious psyche or soul they have been effected by it. As well as the people of Earth and it's why their nUniverse will be a darker, and colder place for everyone of their new timeline.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

This issue was the first real shining moment for this series for me, with Kid Flash and Project Superman close behind.

I can't wait to see what comes of this Kal.

Anonymous said...

That would be sad if the DCnU will become colder and the Marvel U has been for the past few real life is already.