There comes a time in every manís life when he must review all 52 tie-ins to a major DC Comics summer event. That is how itís supposed to go, right?
As I write this, Iím in the midst of a summer beach vacation, one that Iíve been looking forward to for quite some time. It is a vacation, primarily, from my day job, which is nowhere near as fun as writing about comic books, but itís also a vacation from the daily routine -- things like household chores and having to get up and go to bed at certain times.
It is not, however, a vacation from Flashpoint.
Yes, even in these days reserved for rest and relaxation, yours truly hasnít given up the fight to see this marathon to its finish. Itís a good thing this week in the world of DCís main event isnít too shabby, with one book being commendable even by non-Flashpoint standards. Shocking, I know. But lest you think all those UV rays are getting to my head, Iíve tagged plenty of the issues below as the clunkers weíve all come to expect. For example, this oneÖ
Flashpoint: Abin Sur Ė The Green Lantern #2 (of 3)
Writer: Adam Schlagman
Artists: Robson Rocha, Felipe Massafera, Joe Prado, Rod Reis (c)
For all of their faults, the Flashpoint tie-ins have mostly made good on their promise to remain independent and self-contained, requiring at most a passing familiarity with the other books to comprehensibly follow the action in any single one. Not so for Abin Sur, which this month takes that notion and laughs loudly in its face. With external references coming out the wazoo, this book seemingly canít decide which Flashpoint mini itís most beholden to. Directly picking up from a cliffhanger in last weekís Flashpoint: Hal Jordan, the plot is quickly whisked away and dashed through elements of Project Superman and the Amazon-Atlantean War.
This comic is so schizophrenic, it takes three separate pencillers, all with discernably distinct styles, to draw it. Even within scenes themselves, there is no guarantee for internal consistency. Case in point: mere panels after declaring to Cyborg that heís not here to help Earth, the extraterrestrial Abin asserts that, yes, he in fact is. Throughout the exchange, Cyborg is rendered with a disturbing, teeth-clenching sneer, as if heís in on a cruel joke that we are notóone that has undoubtedly been made at our expense.
Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #2 (of 3)
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Eduardo Risso, Patricia Mulvihill (c)
I was fairly harsh on this book last month, ignoring many of its clever subtleties in favor of raking it over the coals for what I considered to be a too-thick coat of heavy-handed style. I still contend that facet to be the weakest part of Azzarelloís repertoire, but the fella sure is capable of telling a rousing crime yarn when he wants to. All aspects of Knight of Vengeance #2 contribute to that end, from Azzís grim dialogue to Rissoís gloomy art, which tells us things the words donít -- even contradicting them from time to time for dramatic effect.
But the real prize here is the final page revelation of the Flashpoint Jokerís identity, a promised doozy that really lives up to the hype. If you thought Thomas Wayne being Batman was a shocker, wait Ďtil you get a load of this. Azzarelloís cliffhanger is hands down the boldest subversion of a classic DCU character that weíve seen in this mega-event so far, and itís hard to imagine that itíll be topped come August. Not only is it a twist that I didnít see coming, but itís an idea that fits perfectly into a world where Bruce Wayneís dad donned the cape and cowl.
Flashpoint: Secret Seven #2 (of 3)
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: Fernando Blanco (layouts), Scott Koblish (finishes), Brian Buccellato (c)
The mere fact that an audience will likely be able to follow the events of Secret Seven #2 makes it a far superior comic to its predecessor. After thoroughly confusing everyone with the drunken ramblings that were the last issue, Peter Milligan delivers a fairly straightforward tale of Shade the Changing Man assembling his team of seven, his unusual powers perhaps putting each of them at risk of death by doing so. It may seem odd to praise a book simply for being comprehensible, but, well, thatís what Flashpoint has brought us to.
Thereís a decently interesting concept at play here, the notion of a superhero team wracked with infighting, whose members might die simply because their leader says ďAvengers assemble!Ē too hard. The problem, though, is that we donít see enough of this group actually working as a team. What is it, exactly, that the Secret Seven does? Based on the setting and the characters involved, it seems likely that it is meant to function as a sort of mystical JLA (a la Justice League Dark, coming from Milligan in September), but that conclusion requires filling in some blanks in the text. Unless Milligan presents a clearer context in the third and final issue, this seven will largely remain a secret even to its readers.
Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint #2 (of 3)
Writer: Rex Ogle
Artists: Eduardo Francisco, Stafani Renee (c)
The second issue of World of Flashpoint is a lot closer to the book I assumed we were getting when this tie-in was announced, which is to say its main function is to provide a tour of the larger Flashpoint universe. In this case, playing to those preconceived expectations is a bad thing, as it diverts the issue away from series star Traci 13. Last month, Rexís Ogleís story was a minor pleasant surprise, serving up an engaging conflict between a guilt-ridden Traci and her revenge-seeking father that I had hoped to see more of.
Thatís still the backdrop this time around too, but it becomes less of a story and more of a framework within which a number of unrelated scenes are cobbled together. On a globetrotting mission to find help in combating her dadís plans for mass destruction, Traci encounters a wide variety of familiar DC characters, in turn cluing us in to those charactersí Flashpoint statuses. Aside from the legion of Red Tornado robots who cast a watchful eye over Japan, none of the characters are particularly memorable, but their appearances do flesh out some of the things weíve heard about in other tie-ins. Ogle earns no bonus points for dragging Flashpoint Jason Todd into the mix, casting him as a Catholic priest who, for some reason, has died and been resurrected in this reality as well.
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
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 4
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 5
Our Sunday Slugfest review of Flashpoint #1
Chris' review of Flashpoint #2
Chris' review of Flashpoint #3
Raised on a steady diet of Super Powers action figures and Adam West Batman reruns, Chris Kiser now writes for Comics Bulletin.† He's currently in the midst of reading and reviewing every tie-in to a major DC Comics summer event and regretting every second of it.
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