By Rennie Cowan
The DC universe is being shaken-up! If you haven’t read Flashpoint #1, then skip this little article and read it first because there might be some surprises up ahead. Flashpoint #2 takes off right after Barry Allen has a stunning revelation in Flashpoint #1: his ring is missing. He also has no speed powers and Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s father, is really Batman! Writer Geoff Johns and Artist Andy Kubert create an event that is expected to fill the pages of 47 issues. The fact is the DC universe will never be the same again. If you expected new things when American President Obama announced “Change” then expect even more when DC comics proclaims “Major Changes in the DC Universe”!
Whether you welcome the changes or not, Geoff Johns is utter magic and Flashpoint #2 entertains the reader to no end. Johns perfectly sets up the mystery and uses his imagination to pull the story into a ticking time-bomb, like a clock that is going to explode if something isn’t done in a flash. In fact, something does have to be done quickly because if not then the mind and memories of Barry Allen will blend in with this new reality. If he doesn’t change things fast then the man and hero he once was will be gone forever. He will be stuck in a world where the heroes are not on our side, or even worse, they are simply dead. The enemy behind this ploy is Professor Zoom (The Reverse Flash) and he is in hot pursuit of revenge. Within the first 10 pages it appears that he may get his wish, and that he has successfully pigeon-holed The Justice League for good.
Barry Allen has no other choice but to seek alliance with this reality’s Batman. And he will certainly need all the help he can get, even more if he is to get his speed powers back. The stakes are high. Without his powers he can do very little, and his only chance is to convince Dr. Thomas Wayne that in his world Bruce, his son, is alive. Thomas can bring his son back if he helps Barry change time to how it once was. But convincing Batman is the problem; Batman is not amused and thinks Barry is a nut, or even worse, he thinks Barry belongs in Arkham Asylum like the rest of his enemies. But Barry doesn’t give up and he passionately tries to persuade Batman that he is the fastest man alive. Thomas doesn’t buy the story. Batman belts Barry a good one in the jaw and states, “You weren’t fast enough to avoid that, you delusional son-of-a-bitch.” Geoff Johns has a clever and dark sense of humor. Wait until you read the last two pages of this issue.
During the lifespan of the DC Universe and all the powerful enemies the Justice League has gone up against, there is none like The Reverse Flash. He is such a menace in fact that he is completely invisible. Johns has made the villain unseen and there is no inkling as to how he can be defeated. He moves so fast in the reverse that he can drop down into any timeline and literary make his own world history. He can change the history of each and every one of our heroes; he can even make them miserable. Eobard Thawne, The Reverse Flash, can insure that none of our heroes pose as a threat to him in the future.
The changes are harsh; the wealth of the Wayne family is still in place, but out-of-place as Thomas Wayne is the owner of Wayne Casinos and Resorts. Contrary to Wayne Industries, it is hardly anything that could give a good benefit to society. And what has happened to Superman! I don’t want to spoil it for you guys but let’s just say Flashpoint #3 is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. Johns has recreated Superman and it is surprisingly 100% original. Like in the classic film Back to the Future Part II where Biff and his clever gambling exploits bring him great wealth because of a stolen almanac from the past – with Professor Zoom’s knowledge of the past he can change just about any detail, disabling the power of his greatest enemies. And at least in this issue it appears that he has.
Wayne is associated with gamblers and quite possibly, other types that our Batman, Bruce Wayne, would most likely put in jail. But details like this give the reader an indication that this reality isn’t really the kind you would want to live in. It’s like a sick joke, a nightmare concocted by a hidden devil. Aside from the fact that Batman doesn’t like intruders in his mansion, Thomas Wayne isn’t a likely candidate to join a Justice League to fight against criminals. Yet Barry Allen, without his speed powers, is essentially helpless. The only way for him to even out the scales is to do a reenactment of the event that gave him his powers to begin with. Riddle me this, riddle me that, you won’t believe the ending.
The plot thickens when the drama escalates on the other side of the globe at the surface waters of Europe. Atlantis and the Amazons have raged war against one another, turning the world into a battlefield. In Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1 it is explained that a geo-pulse sent out by Atlantis has managed to place Western Europe under water. Like Lex Luthor once said, “It’s history; it’s happening…” and in Flashpoint #2, Barry’s memories are filling up with the new knowledge of the timeline, wishing and hoping that his memories of his former life will not be forgotten. Aquaman and Atlantis have flooded Europe, and Wonder Woman is leading the Amazons on a blitzkrieg in London. What could be worse? With a war in action, Barry is up against much more than he bargained for.
On the flooded waters of Paris, one of our favorite mercenaries and assassins is introduced. Slade Wilson (Deathstroke) is traveling the high seas in search of treasure. As usual, we can assume he has a niche for self-preservation. When he arrives in a flooded Paris that has been nearly engulfed by the ocean amidst a leaning Eiffel Tower that is afloat, Deathstroke is stopped like a fish out of water. Emperor Aquaman jumps out onto the deck to greet Slade. He stands over him, professing “No survivors!” This is not the Aquaman we have grown to love in the DCU. This is the last we see of Deathstroke in issue #2 of Flashpoint, leaving us with a twist in the story arc. Instead, back at the Wayne mansion (and not in the best of shape these days) Barry Allen has no doubt that Eobard Thawne has altered History yet again. But Barry’s explanation finally convinces Batman to listen though he remains skeptical.
The Amazons led by Wonder Woman rage war on London which they have already deemed New Themyscira. The lives of our superheroes have changed and so has Colonel Steve Trevor’s. He is fighting alongside the resistance while in search of Lois lane. Wonder Woman, with her skill and strength, gets Trevor to the ground with ease. She places her lasso of truth around him. He is bound by it and tells Diana that Lois Lane has been in London for the past eight months gathering information in secret for the resistance, and for Cyborg. Trevor had volunteered to help her. In another twist, he has fallen for Lois Lane without any indication of feelings for Wonder Woman. By the end of this issue, Steve Trevor is left like a dog. One of Diana’s soldier’s asks, “What do you wish us to do with Steve Trevor?”
Before we reach the climax of Flashpoint #2 we get to watch Batman, in amusement, observe Barry as he desperately works to reenact the accident that gave him his powers in the first place. Much like a horror tale from something out of Frankenstein, Geoff Johns continues to entertain the reader to no end. You are immediately engaged into the amusement as Barry builds a little contraption with a lightning rod to electrocute himself with. And just his luck, it’s raining! This coincidence is hardly to be believed, of course, but the interaction between these two characters is priceless! Batman is told to pull the lever that will electrocute Barry. You can imagine the grin on Batman’s face. Batman is just standing there and he says, “You’re crazy.” We know he is really thinking no problem. Batman pulls the switch and Barry Allen gets struck by lightning again until he is burnt to a crisp.
The last panel of Flashpoint #2 is Batman holding the fried Barry Allen in his arms. This image leaves the reader with many questions. Is he dead? Will Barry Allen get his powers back in time before the new timeline is set in stone? And where’s Superman? Well, you’ll have to read Flashpoint #3. It will be worth it. The only real gripe with this story by this point is why Barry Allen is the only one who remembers the alternate timeline and yet, no one else does. The Reverse Flash obviously wanted Barry to know and see the damage he had caused. There is certainly much for the reader to anticipate in #3. In the end, Flashpoint #2 leaves us with several cliffhangers. If you ever wanted a story where our DC heroes get rattled and knocked out-of-place, then this is sure to suit your fancy.
Geoff Johns’ writing is stellar and well above his previous works. Andy Kubert’s artwork is exceptionally well-done, perfectly setting the tone of the story with every line of ink; our heroes and characters look rugged and beaten, in a new light. Both Johns and Kubert build a new and dark timeline that we have never seen before. There is a strong story arc and it will lead readers into the re-launch of their favorite DC titles. There will be some very controversial changes when the Flashpoint arc finishes, particularly with the costumes. But whether you like the changes or not you will be sure to enjoy the ride that leads to it.
Everything is at stake and time can either be an enemy or an ally in Flashpoint. This story is sure to entertain the reader’s imagination and keep you waiting for the next issue. Geoff Johns and artist Andy Kubert have simply brought us drama in a nut-shell – part 2 of a 5 issue-limited series that will surely become another DC classic.
Overall Grade: 10/10