On the surface, Flashpoint #2 appears to make amends for all the shortcomings of the seriesí first issue. Unlike before, when it looked as if writer Geoff Johns was strangely holding back in his free pass to completely renovate the landscape of the DC Universe, weíre now getting a firsthand glimpse at how wacky the world of this altered timeline really is. Familiar characters are being used in new and inventive ways, and the promised subversion of hero and villain is finally front and center. Instead of merely being told about these things, as was issue oneís MO, we actually get to see them.
Despite all this, however, Johnsí efforts to really floor the readers with this storyline still fall short. While the bits involving revised versions of Deathstroke, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are all fun and entertaining, the main plot of this issue does very little to draw readers in. Its entire progression relies upon Barry Allen trying to convince this realityís Batman that his time-traveling archenemy has malevolently changed history, and Johns writes it as far too easy a sell. Batmanís skepticism melts away not on the merits of Barryís argumentation, but rather because it needs to happen to advance the story.
His detractors might claim that Johnsí scripts have always been marked by such laziness, though I never noticed it so clearly in the past. Perhaps thatís because I was distracted by the many new ideas Johns has typically introduced to the mythology of the characters he has worked on. Such is not the case with Flashpoint, which largely adheres to a prototypical sci-fi/superhero plot device. Thereís certainly nothing wrong with that per se, but it begs a creative presentation that just isnít here.
Whatever the explanation for Flashpointís faults may be, Andy Kubert doesnít bear the responsibility for the bulk of them. If nothing else, this is an exciting looking book, with Kubertís skill at depicting angry and determined faces taking care of the visual drama. Much of what we see here is pleasantly reminiscent of the artistís work on Grant Morrisonís flash-forward Batman stories, especially when it comes to his Dark Knight redesign.
For the past couple years, a steady decline has been evident in the quality of Johns-penned comics, and Flashpoint fits that bill as well. Itís good fun, but not great fun. Maybe-read, but not must-read. The core concept just isnít brilliant enough for Johns to get away without having to do some heavier lifting.
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