Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flashpoint #1 Review

DC's big event for the year kicked off today with Flashpoint #1.  It's a Flash centric event that turns the world on its side in an Age of Apocalypse/House of M-like reality warping story where everything you know about the DCU changes.  As a huge fan of these types of stories, I was quite interested in seeing how Geoff Johns tackled this story.  Hit the jump for my full review.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Andy Kubert

I really wasn't sure what Flashpoint was about coming into it.  I knew we'd have alternate reality versions of characters and that Reverse-Flash would be involved somehow in the Flash centric story, but little else was known to me despite efforts to read up and find out.  Was this going to be an Age of Apocalypse with a major timeline change resulting in drastic changes?  Or perhaps a Scarlet Witch-like House of M with a mirror world or other Flash-like story point?  Or maybe even another Earth from the Multiverse? After one issue, I'm still not sure how we got to this new reality, but I do know one thing - I'm definitely enjoying it.

The event starts with a quick recap of who the Flash is and his place in the DCU.  It's narrated by an unknown character, later revealed to be Batman, who I'll touch on in a bit, and leads us into Barry Allen waking up in his police precinct after pulling an all nighter only to find out things aren't the way they should be.  Captain Cold is Keystone's protector, not the Flash;  no one knows who the Flash is, let alone the Justice League; his mother is alive and well and he doesn't have access to his speed based powers.  Things only get worse from there as we see how much his life has changed.  This is all very well done and easy to digest - you won't have to have read any Flash stories to follow along and you won't feel left out if you weren't following the current Flash ongoing. 

Barry's mom is alive in this reality.
While Barry's happy to see his mother, he knows there's something wrong with the world, which doesn't even have a Superman, and he sets off to figure it out.  His mother tells him there's no Superman, but everyone has heard of Batman, so Barry immediately sets off in search of the caped crusader.  

Batman, as it turns out, is a bit more ruthless in this timeline than we are accustomed to, willingly chasing towards and then dropping villains to their death from high rises above Crime Alley.  Our first introduction to this Batman has him still playing the vigilante part and introduces us to Cyborg and his ragtag band of alternate reality heroes, and some villains, attempting to recruit him.  As for why they need him, it seems Aquaman sank all of western Europe into the ocean and conquered it while the United Kingdom was overrun by Wonder Woman and the Amazons.  Cyborg wants to put together a team to stop them and, showing that this Batman is as capable as the one we know and love, they want Batman to lead them.  Many vote to join this coalition of Cyborg's on the pretense Batman is with them and quickly back out or leave to 'rethink their position' on joining when this Batman outright refuses to help them.  

I like how this acted as an introduction to many of the alternate versions of characters and clued readers into the state of affairs in this new world without feeling like an info dump.  When you see Captain Marvel, or Captain Thunder in this reality, covered in scars on his face and telling you how he can't wait for a rematch with Wonder Woman, it's hard not to be excited about the prospect of that fight.  In fact, because of this first issue, I'm now interested in reading many of the tie-ins I had previously written off as unnecessary or unimportant parts of the story simply because this issue was just that good at building their characters and histories up in the few pages they appeared. 

Captain Thunder seeks a rematch with Wonder Woman.
From there, we jump back to Flash seeking out Batman.  He knows Batman is Bruce Wayne and assumes this version is as well and heads to Wayne Manor, which is in a sad state of affairs, all boarded up and looking quite abandoned.  He makes his way to the Batcave and finds a very shabby looking cave - no computers or fancy gadgets or trophies, just a simple map, a chair, some basic weapons and a memorial to the dead in the form of a Wayne family picture.  It's here the narrator reveals how he first met Barry Allen and how his life changed by nearly killing him as we see Batman attack the intruder in his cave and it is also here that we learn Batman's identity - not that of Bruce but the father, Thomas Wayne.  It's an interesting take and the narration and Batman's actions throughout the issue, on second reading, definitely make sense in that context.  This is a father seeking revenge and vengeance for his wife and son's deaths and I like the twist.  I was honestly expected Jason Todd or twisted versions of Dick or Tim.  The father surviving instead of the son is a nice twist I didn't see coming.

While this is a Flash event, I really liked the choice of focusing more on Batman and his use as narrator.  We're following Barry's actions throughout and his search for this Batman, but Batman made a better focal point for the story and easier way of introducing so many new characters to the reader.  It also helped get them out into the new world and showing us how it's different from ours without feeling forced. 

Andy Kubert handled the art for this issue and did an excellent job.   He didn't have much action to work with, but there were a lot of new character designs and a huge cast to introduce and everyone looked great.  My only complaint is that he didn't really get to flex his muscles on this issue with any action outside of Batman's introduction.  Looking forward to seeing future issues from him as the story ramps up and we get to see some more action sequences from Kubert.

Verdict - Must Read.  Great issue that hooked me instantly and never let go.  After one issue, I want, no, need to know more about this world and these characters and am already picking out various tie-ins I want to try out simply because of how engaging and interesting this world and story is so far. 

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Akylle said...

You were expecting Dick to be under the cowl? I assume you haven't seen the covers for Flashpoint: Deadman And The Flying Graysons which show Grayson in Nightwing attire then.

Flashpoint has definitely piqued my interest more than Fear Itself.

Kirk Warren said...

@Akylle - not necessarily Dick, but one of the Robins, mostly Jason once I saw the personality type. Thomas was a surprise to me. And no, I honestly havent paid much attention to the covers for the tie-ins prior to reading this issue since originally intended to just follow the main event title.

btownlegend said...

Summer of no I come.

Paul said...

Am I the only person who has never enjoyed Andy Kubert's art? Dating all the way back to his run on X-Men, I just have never thought his work was anything to get even remotely excited about. If I could be blunt, I've always thought it was crap.

Ivan said...

Sounds awesome, can't wait for it. Fear what now?

Anonymous said...

5 words to you:
Lois Lane and the resistance
That´s going to be awesome!
Enrique G

John said...

Agreed, Kubert didn't get to do a lot in this issue. I honestly found myself skimming the rooftop discussion a bit (although the S.H.A.Z.A.M. stuff was great... I love how Tawky Tawny is literally just a pet tiger), but the end reveal was great. I was smiling to myself by the panel breakdown of that scene, Johns/Kubert did an amazing job of cleing you in right before the splash page reveal.

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