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.
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 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