Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Flashpoint: Lois Lane And The Resistance

After reading the well executed Project Superman #3, I read Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #3.

I have to say that this mini-series has never grabbed me. Part of it might be that there was some buzz before this came out for DC to give Lois her own book. There was some serendipity that suddenly in the Flashpoint world, Lois was going to star in a mini-series. Even the first cover, Lois clad in a black trench coat, all spy-ish, made me think this book was going to be just what Lois fans like me were looking for.

Unfortunately, the first issue felt rushed with Lois more reacting than acting, more telling rather than doing. The second issue was more about Grifter and Penny Black with Lois spending most of the time in the background. Could DC have added the Lois Lane name and amped up her presence here figuring sales would be better than a Flashpoint:Britannia and the Resistance book? Hmmm.

And this issue was more of the same. Sure, there is one pretty good moment for Lois. But this is mostly about the Resistance and their efforts to purge the UK of the Amazon forces. Lois wasn't the star here at all. She was a member of the Resistance, a member of the team.  Unfortunately, I bought this book thinking it would be a Lois book. It is hard for me to look past her limited role and grade this book.

The book also suffers from the fact that there is no clear art direction. Oliver Nunez did the interiors of issue #1. Gianluca Gugliotta penciled last issue. This issue we get yet another team on art - penciller Christian Duce and inker Walden Wong. The art is fine but the lack of stylistic consistency throughout the mini also weakened the story.

The issue starts with a quick origin story of Penny Black. She was a member of British Navy serving on a boat with some prototypical technology for an engine. The ship's tech was stronger than expected, teleporting the ship and fusing with Penny's body.

Now armed with some sort of technology telepathy, Black was given the Britannia armor and became a local hero.

It is a relatively standard 'comic book' origin but it at least gives us more back story for Black who I felt was the real star of the book. I do wonder if she somehow survives into the DCnU Relaunch, making her way into the Stormwatch book. Or maybe one of the Abnett and Lanning written books.

Last issue ended with Resistance member Hyde (her human form Bobbie that is) revealed as a traitor, setting up the resistance to be ambushed by Artemis and the Amazons.

In what I thought was a good plot point, Bobbie's alter ego Hyde is not a traitor, regains control of their shared body, and begins thrashing the Amazon assault squad, freeing the Resistance force. I like the idea of two halves of a personality at war with each other. Too bad there wasn't enough time in the book to explore this more.

Lois and Black make a break for the Britannia armor hoping that will turn the tide.

Artemis follows, striking Penny in the back with an arrow. Lois has become something of a soldier in the book and she tries to hold off Artemis with a machine gun without much success.

Luckily, Black is able to fuse with the armor, healing herself in the process. One thing about Flashpoint, it is a violent world and as readers we have seen plenty of this violence with some over the top gratuitous panels. Here, Britannia flies through Artemis torso, splitting the Amazon's body in half, blood splattered all over the book.

I guess this is war. But I think that sometimes these scenes of violence are better handled off screen, letting my imagination fill in the gore.

Britannia immediately takes to the air and is confronted by Wonder Woman. The two battle with Britannia able to just hold off Diana's powerful attacks.

Black is able to bring Diana to one of the concentration camps that have been set up for men, finally showing Wonder Woman the horrors of the Amazon land. With a surge of conscience, Diana swears she didn't know and frees the men.

For me, this is the weakest part of this series. How could Diana not know anything about the concentration camps, the mutation camps, the reeducation camps, the slaughter. Could she really be that oblivious? I mean there are camps! There are ships coming in with 2 lines - one for men, one for women. There are new troops added to the Amazon forces, former humans suddenly bulked up. Even the outside world knows about the camps! Could Diana really not even hear the rumors, not run across these things during her time fighting? Did no other Amazon ever mention these things to Diana during these years of war ... even in passing? It seems wrong. Diana is a smarter woman, a better leader than this.

In an even odder turn of events, she simply flies off to confront Penthesilea. No word to the troops. No taking to the airwaves and asking people to stand down.

Here is the best Lois moment in this issue. Luckily Lois is able to stumble across a working Emergency Broadcast System studio. (I know, lucky find!)

Despite knowing it will be dangerous, Lois courageously takes to the airwaves telling everyone within earshot about the Amazon camps and the need to keep fighting on.

This is the Lois I like to read about, not only reporting but fighitng for justice.

As expected, the Amazons don't really like Lois' news report and find her.

I have to assume the 'boom' is Kal finding Lois and rescuing her.

And here is the sad part about Diana flying off. With no new orders, the Amazon troops come out in force to surpress the Resistance's forces which now include the very men Diana freed! This should be a time where arms are put down and preliminary discussions of peace and reconciliation happen. Diana should be there to tell her troops to stop, that she has learned new information and is deciding on a new course of action.

Instead the last page is the two sides of the battle charging at each other, guns blazing, spears thrusting.

Did this mini-series show us what the Amazon-run UK look like from the point of view of the oppressed. Yes. Did it introduce Grifter into the DCU? Yes. Did it introduce Penny Black? Yes.

But did it star Lois? No. And did it give me enough of the Resistance to make me actually care for those characters? Not really. And did it have a lot of death and carnage? Yep - Hawkgirl, Cheetah, Huntress, and Artemis all die violent deaths on screen.

So I can't say that this satisfied my need for a great Lois story (although James Peaty and Kelly Sue DeConnick did some solid Lois stuff in the last year of Supergirl, so at least I have that).

Overall grade: C


valerie21601 said...

Didio and Lee bragged and patted themselves on the back about how they worked on Flashpoint and their related titles for 5+ years. Planning out and guiding every detail, every plot point, every step of the way, claiming to have made sure Flashpoint universe was full of the best written stories personally.

From what I have read and from what I have read in the reviews. Consent quality goes up and down too much. Art is spotty and inconsistent. Many series have so-so stories.

I have a dreadful worry about the DCnU. If Flashpoint and it's related titles are Didio and Lee's very best what will their DCnU be like under their "guidence"?

Dave Mullen said...

I agree there is a massive overdose of hype coming from DC, they're pushing it so hard that they really do leave themselves open to a hell of a big fall if this reboot & 52 book launch is ultmatly rejected by their readers...

Flashpoint is not something I've followed much, I'm behind on the main mini as it is merely so-so and yet I thought Project Superman was pretty decent, certainly kept me interested to see how it turned out. Problem was like all these mini's I expect there is no real ending as all they are is cash-in's feeding off Flashpoint itself. Not much can happen therefore.

I have to say Abnett/Lannings work recently has been atrocious, I do wonder if both are actually plotting/writing this stuff or is it just the one...?