The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Flashpoint Read-Through, Part One

Posted by BigWords on May 13, 2013

You might have noticed that I have been away for a while, and I thought that instead of boring you senseless with all of the dreary, monotonous blah-blah-blah, it would be more entertaining if I got right back into things. So this – a review of sorts – is the result. Do please note that my brain is still fuzzy, so some things may be… well, weirder than normal.

Flashpoint 1: Velocitas Eradico

The title didn’t inspire confidence when I first saw it. Flashpoint sounds, in all honesty, like a bad summer blockbuster. The kind of film where The Rock runs around avoiding explosions, or one in which Sylvester Stallone shoots lots of people. It is the kind of lazy title which irks me before I have read a single page, and as this is an example of DC superheroes hitting each other, it is a rather brief affair – large panels with sparse dialogue – so don’t expect an intriguing read. The cover is… Actually not as bad as I had imagined, though it immediately worries me that the main focus is one of the most boring characters in the DC stable – Barry Allen.

Look, I like The Flash. Wally West is one of the most intriguing, multi-layered characters to carry an ongoing series, Max Mercury is a brilliant, wildly entertaining character, and the supporting cast of Rogues is second only to Batman’s villains. I stopped reading The Flash’s ongoing title around the time that stupid electrical imp appeared, though the earlier Jackson Guice issues are my favorites from the run. But Barry? Ugh. Barry is a much less interesting character who is largely defined by the fact that he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to stop the Anti-Monitor.

Barry Allen should have stayed dead.

But here we are, and to make things worse, it is a story built on the premise of an alternate reality. Geoff Johns isn’t a bad writer, and he has crafted some astonishingly mature stories in the otherwise idiotic genre of superheroes, but with the opening installment of this mini-series he is not at the top of his game. He can’t even be bothered to name the individual issues, leaving this as “Chapter One Of Five”. That is hopeless, so I am going to refer to the first issue as Velocitas Eradico. Anything is better than nothing.

The plot kicks into gear when Barry realizes he doesn’t have his Flash ring, and his mother is alive. Which is a problem for those of us who simply don’t care. See, the entire story hangs on the central premise that she is alive in this reality, and for anyone who simply cannot get behind Grandpa Allen as The Flash instead of the rightful speedster Wally West this is something which cannot be bridged. There is no way to make the story work without making us care, and in the few pages of story so far, I am already anticipating the scene on the freeway where she is brutally mowed down by an eighteen-wheeler.

C’mon, don’t look at me like that. I didn’t even make the obvious joke.

Anyways, I am going to have to get to the Batman problem sooner or later, seeing as he is a major player in this. Batman, as a character, is one who carries a certain amount of leeway in interpretation, from cheesy sixties television star to grim avenger in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Any and all versions of Batman between these polar opposites is a valid one, though some make for better stories than others. And in not a single other interpretation do we have a completely irrelevant, off-putting and damn ugly red circle behind the bat symbol. A red bat-symbol? Sure. That is fine. A red outline around the bat-symbol? Okay, I can work with that. But the circle? Oh man, is that ever the stupidest thing in this comic, and that is saying something…

But this isn’t Bruce. This is Thomas Wayne, who should be ages with Barry though looks older for some reason. Actually, considering how messed up the chronology of DC’s superheroes is, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barry was de-aged somewhere along the way – in a story I’ll happily ignore, along with all the other appearances the walking corpse has made. Actually, talking of walking corpses reminded me – where the hell is The Spectre? Or Constantine? They would surely be up to something. Or The Phantom Stranger, who seems to pop up at the most inopportune times. I’m waiting on the story where The Phantom Stranger interrupts Lobo in a public toilet mid-stream and gets his head ripped off.

Um… Where was I? Oh, yes.

There are some nice touches in the pointless splash page of ol’ pointy ears, including a Wayne’s World sign, but it is still a waste of two pages where plot could be advanced. We know this isn’t Bruce under the cowl because Batman throws a woman off the top of a skyscraper, in a scene which introduces Cyborg to the story. His conversation with Batman recalls a similar scene from Jason Todd’s days as Robin, with a line that actually made me smile. The repetition of moments which are memorable isn’t something which has penetrated into the DC universe overall, from what little I have been exposed to of the current mess, but it touches base with one of the highlights of the mid-80s version of the character.

I have a lot of problems with the way in which Cyborg delivers the page-long exposition, and the fact that Wonder Woman took over the UK (on the eighth of March? Please let the invasion have taken place on the eighth of March…) should have been one of the shock twists to come later rather than laid out in such a perfunctory manner. This issue is all set-up, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is so little meat to the story, but I had the lingering hope that something of merit could be imparted through the thin, color-by-numbers storytelling. Things come to a head on the last page with the revelation that Batman is Thomas, but there is nothing convincing me to read on.

Here’s hoping things improve.

Well, this title can’t get much worse, can it?

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One Response to “Flashpoint Read-Through, Part One”

  1. Mr. Big (Words) is back! Glad to see you blogging again xx

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