I don’t always review crossovers, but when I do, I prefer Flashpoint.
A couple weeks into this daunting task of reviewing every tie-in to DC’s Flashpoint event, I recalled a news item I’d read several months prior, promising free promotional pins to readers who bought each miniseries’ number one issue. My local shop evidently wasn’t eligible for this incentive (presumably due to order numbers not meeting the minimum threshold), because I have yet to see one of these goodies come my way. Talk about pouring salt in my wounds! I, the most loyal and longsuffering of all Flashpoint customers, had been resigned to going home pinless.
Upon further reflection, however, the damage didn’t seem quite so bad. What good could wearing a Flashpoint pin do me, save from serving as a public symbol that I’d been snookered by the mighty DC marketing machine? “See that guy over there with the pins? He must’ve been tricked into buying Flashpoint!” I might as well be running around town with a Green Lantern ticket stub dangling from a chain around my neck.
Of course, I could have tried to auction the pins on eBay, which is the likely fate of all these subpar issues I’ve been plunking down three bucks a pop for. Here’s hoping that future bidders aren’t reading these reviews.
Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #1 (of 3)
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artists: Oliver Nome (p), Trevor Scott (i), Brian Buccellato (c)
Sterling Gates plays a little bit of defense within the pages of Kid Flash Lost #1, trying to get ahead of what will undoubtedly be a common criticism of this issue. After lifting a couple plot twists from famous Hollywood movies, namely The Matrix and Back to the Future, he attempts to defuse the situation by having characters comment on it directly. As an effort at humor, the bits fall flat, and Gates ends up inadvertently drawing more attention to these exercises in derivation than he otherwise might have.
In truth, however, Gates’ biggest crime isn’t plagiarism, but rather mediocrity. When Bart Allen, the Kid Flash of the normal DCU, finds himself flung into the future of the Flashpoint timeline, it doesn’t resemble a specific movie rip-off so much as it does a generic collection of sci-fi tropes that have appeared elsewhere many times before. Dream sequences, dystopian futures, and time paradoxes can all be used to great effect when mixed with a little creativity, but the ones here feel like they’ve been left to write themselves. After all, this is Flashpoint, where “not bad” counts as “good enough.”
Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #1 (of 3)
Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artists: Eddie Nunez (p), Don Ho (i), Hi-Fi (c)
Never underestimate the power of an event book like Flashpoint to make the most seasoned pros resemble wannabes trying to sell their first script. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning looked to have the magic last week in Wonder Woman and the Furies, but their second contribution to the Flashpoint tapestry isn’t so charmed. Starting with a fun, spies-and-spooks sounding title and groovy Eddie Nunez cover, Lois Lane and the Resistance is all downhill from there.
Perhaps too eager to chronicle how Lois Lane goes from reporting on a fashion show in Paris to becoming a central figure in an underground British revolution, Abnett and Lanning let this book’s pace get away from them. We’re rushed from one moment to the next, never given the chance to absorb the full implications of any of this issue’s dramatic beats—all of which carelessly appear to be turned up to 11. In fact, the action happens so fast, it sometimes skips over itself. After several re-readings of one particularly confusing sequence, I’m convinced that at least one page got lost on the way to the printing press. Truth be told, it would have been best if we’d been spared the entire twenty.
Flashpoint: The Outsider #1 (of 3)
Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Javi Fernandez, The Hories (c)
You can never be all things to all people, but that doesn’t stop James Robinson from trying to make the Outsider fit the bill. He’s got the origin of Danny DeVito’s Penguin, the personality of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor, and the fashion sense of Tom Wolfe. Oh, and he also happens to spend his days manipulating events on a global scale from a bunker in India. An avant-garde writer like Gerard Way might have been able to bake all those disparate ingredients into a solid quirky character, but Robinson only manages to put them haphazardly into a blender. All of the Outsider’s traits come across like random eccentricities, never joining together to fully convince us to either relate to or root against him.
Without knowing which of the two reactions is appropriate, it’s hard to be drawn into Robinson’s story. The bulk of the issue revolves around a trio of characters seeking to settle a score of some sort with the Outsider, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether we should want them to succeed. All three characters are good guys in the regular DCU, so we’re probably meant to interpret their actions as an exposé of the Outsider’s corruption, though the alternate reality setting of Flashpoint clouds that picture. The details of their beef with Robinson’s character are kept so vague, you have to wonder whether the writer himself knows which end is up.
Flashpoint: Reverse Flash (one-shot)
Writer: Scott Kolins
Artists: Joel Gomez, Brian Buccellato (c)
Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, is a major character in the main Flashpoint series, which means that, according to the bylaws of the crossover code, nothing significant can happen to him in a tie-in book. Moonlighting writer Scott Kolins shows that he is fully aware of this unwritten principle, relentlessly putting it into practice here to construct an utterly inconsequential one-shot. The events of his script remain entirely within the confines of Thawne’s previously revealed backstory, keeping their safe distance from even Flashpoint’s earliest moments.
It’s a method that might have made for a decent means to bring uninitiated readers up to date with the Flash mythos, save for the fact that it omits several key pieces of information that would be crucial to a newcomer’s understanding. Thawne starts out as an avid Flash fan and imitator, turning bitter and revenge obsessed once he and his idol come to blows. Never explained is the reason that this initial battle transpired, a missing detail that casts a long shadow over the rest of the issue.
Equally frustrating are Kolins’ vague references to the Reverse Flash’s powers, time traveling abilities that rely upon something called the Negative Speed Force. In all fairness, though, he keeps the concept no less comprehensible than Geoff Johns did when first introducing it.
For more comic book related masochism, check out the previous installments of our Flashpoint Marathon:
Flashpoint Marathon: Starting Line
Flashpoint Marathon:Week 1
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 2
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 3
Our Sunday Slugfest review of Flashpoint #1
Chris' review of Flashpoint #2
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