18 January 2017

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Crisis!, Part LX: Flashpoint

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2011 (contents: 2011)
Borrowed from the library
Read September 2016

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inkers: Sandra Hope, Jesse Delperdang
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano

After five thick volumes of build-up-- not to mention my own extradiegetic knowledge of how this book changed DC's continuity-- did Flashpoint live up to it all? Not really. The Flash wakes up in a world that I already knew the basics of, having read all the World of Flashpoint tie-ins (the Wonder Woman and Batman ones were probably the most relevant in the end). He spends a lot of time being baffled why he doesn't have powers and why his mom is still alive, he goes to talk to Batman, he electrocutes himself, he blames Professor Zoom the Reverse Flash for it all but discovers it's his own work, and he fixes his mistake. Given the large, complicated world the tie-ins introduced, the events of the main story are distressingly straightforward. (And some of them never really tied in at all, like Kid Flash's role in the Flash volume.)

C'mon, Barry, it's an alternate universe. You're a superhero, you should be used to this crap.
from Flashpoint vol. 2 #1 (art by Andy Kubert & Sandra Hope)

There's some potential in the idea that the Flash blames his enemy for messing with time, but it turns out to be his own work, but Geoff Johns doesn't really exploit that here. It should send your world shuddering to a halt, instead it just feels like a minor road bump on the way to the climax. That Barry Allen, not just the fastest man alive but often the nicest, could create a world so horrific seems worth delving into, but Johns doesn't. That he did it in his sleep, apparently, is a big copout. There's a good story about parents and expectations somewhere in here, given that the biggest character other than the Flash is a version of Batman who is a Thomas Wayne that watched his son die, but Johns doesn't do anything with these themes or ideas. Even at five issues (compare to Crisis on Infinite Earth's twelve-plus!), this story feels stretched out, with Barry electrocuting himself to regain his powers twice for no obvious narrative reason.

I wish I remembered.
from Flashpoint vol. 2 #5 (art by Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope & Jesse Delperdang)

Crisis on Infinite Earths is a good metric here: Marv Wolfman and George Perez made something epic. Then, when Wolfman novelized it and told it from the perspective of Barry Allen, it became something impressively personal. Flashpoint is neither as epic nor as personal as it wants to be.

Including Grifter in the same tier of heroes as Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman makes the presence of Cyborg look positively reasonable.
from Flashpoint vol. 2 #5 (art by Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope & Jesse Delperdang)

Next Week: What's this new DC universe like? I go back to the beginning to find out, to the days of the Zero Year!

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