Flashpoint. The final DC story (before reboot). These are the musings of a fan with entirely too much time on his hands. His 13-week mission: to read strange new comics, to seek out just one that might be worth buying, to boldly go where no reviewer ever should!
Though we’re merely two weeks into this effort to review every Flashpoint tie-in, we’re actually pretty far along in terms of actual issue count. Factoring in the two completed chapters of the main series, there have been ten individual comics published to date with the word Flashpoint somewhere in the title. While that’s a microscopic percentage of the 238 or so books to come, it’s certainly enough to establish the parameters of a fictional alternate reality.
Why, then, do I feel like the landscape of Flashpoint has yet to coalesce into a meaningful whole? Less adept at world building than they’ve been at filling in paint-by-numbers story outlines, the Flashpoint minis have largely failed to generate any sense of a big picture. At least, not one that I feel particularly drawn into. The whole concept comes across as a major rush job, one that seems cooked up in an editor’s office rather than in a creator’s imagination.
As I continue to feed the beast with my dollar vote, I suppose I’m only encouraging it. Remember, though, I’m only spending my money on this monstrosity so that I can warn you not to!
Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1 (of 3)
Writer: Scott Kolins
Artists: Scott Kolins, Mike Atiyeh (c)
Scott Kolins did some of the best work of his career as artist for Geoff Johns’ Rogue-centric issues of The Flash, the most memorable of which delved into the origin of Captain Cold. As writer himself on the mini-series starring the Flashpoint version of that character, Kolins conspicuously tries to emulate the scoundrel voice that Johns once mastered. Turns out there’s a reason that Kolins only drew those much loved books, as his efforts here to script Cold as an irreverent tough guy smack of trying too hard.
In a timeline where the Flash never existed, Citizen Cold occupies the speedster’s place as Central City’s hallowed champion, but why the public is so enamored with him is anyone’s guess. At every available opportunity, Kolins makes sure that his antihero comes across as the consummate bastard. Designed to emphasize the character’s seedier side, the end result actually serves more to undermine the believability of the story’s premise. Throw in a fairly bland mystery about Citizen Cold’s past (we kinda already know that he’s a criminal), and you’ve got yourself a Flashpoint tie-in that doesn’t exactly churn out the warm fuzzies.
Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager #1 (of 3)
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti
Artists: Joe Bennett, John Dell (i), The Hories (c)
I came into this book about the pirates of the Flashpoint U largely anticipating a rousing round of bawdy fun in the style of Gail Simone’s Secret Six. How else, I thought, could you write an entertaining book about a bunch of murderous, back-stabbing villains? Evidently, writer Jimmy Palmiotti doesn’t share my sense the obvious. His vision of presenting Deathstroke and company on the alt-verse high seas involves making them act as grim, gloomy, and vicious as they’d probably be in real life.
So while there’s more than enough blood spilled here to make a Saw fan’s heart go aflutter, there’s nary a clever joke or winking nod toward readers simply looking for a good time. Call me crazy, but if you’re looking to tell a harrowing tale of longing and loss, a comic book about supervillain pirates may not be the best context within which to do it. Yet Palmiotti seems determined to chronicle the swashbuckling adventures of the Ravager crew without cracking a smile, as if Captain Deathstroke’s sorrowful search for his lost daughter is the real point of this story. Hey Jimmy, why so serious?
Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1 (of 3)
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Ardian Syaf
As established in Flashpoint proper, Aquaman is kind of a big deal in this skewed version of the DC Universe. That fact is a double-edged sword when it comes to this mini-series focusing exclusively on the King of the Seven Seas. While Aquaman’s tale will undoubtedly be relevant to the larger story that Geoff Johns is telling as Flashpoint head honcho, it’s a sure bet that nothing cataclysmic will happen to the character outside of the main event.
Writer Tony Bedard actually does a pretty decent job walking that tightrope, keeping Aquaman interesting within the boundaries that he’s been given. The use of internal monologue effectively communicates the darkness that lurks within the character’s waterlogged soul, and a non-linear narrative serves as a clever way to reveal the depths of treachery to which he’s willing to sink. It doesn’t, however, fully explain Aquaman’s actions in logical terms. While we understand the bitterness he harbors for the militant Flashpoint Wonder Woman, it isn’t entirely clear how a plan to flood half of Europe works as a revenge scheme against her. Makes for a neat promotional world map, though.
Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1 (of 3)
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Ibraim Roberson, Pete Pantazis
Jeff Lemire was recently tagged as the writer of Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, the long-awaited Seven Soldiers spinoff starring Grant Morrison’s reinvention of the Mary Shelley literary creation. As such, it is easy to read this Flashpoint series as a pilot episode, Lemire’s hopeful pitch to publisher and fans alike. In other words, Lemire realizes the need to earn his audience’s attention rather than to merely assume it, as have many of his Flashpoint colleagues. Frankenstein and the eponymous Creatures are given carefully crafted origins, conflicts, and personalities, making this book a breath of fully developed fresh air.
Commissioned during World War II, Frankenstein and friends are employed to take down Hitler then quickly put out to pasture by the US government. While my (overly zealous) reading of other Flashpoint material clues me in to the fact that this group is taking the place of the ineffective Flash-less Justice Society, that information is not crucial to the enjoyment of this comic. This is the quintessential standalone mini, minimally using the backdrop of its parent event to tell a story that would have been just as worthy of publication in any other context.
This marks the highest rating I’ve given yet to a comic bearing the Flashpoint banner, yet it is perhaps the least connected to the world of that event so far. Make of that loaded implication what you will, dear readers.
For more comic book related masochism, check out the other installments of our Flashpoint Marathon:
Flashpoint Marathon: Starting Line
Flashpoint Marathon:Week 1
Our Sunday Slugfest review ofFlashpoint #1
Chris' review of Flashpoint #2
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