By: Mark Cormier
While reading Flashpoint, I can’t help but look back at Blackest Night, the major crossover event of 2009-2010. Blackest Night was unprecedented, mostly because the holy trinity of the DC Universe (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) was mostly absent, centering instead on Green Lantern as the main protagonist and expanding on the mythology of his character. Basically, Blackest Night was a problem that only Green Lantern could handle. Flashpoint similarly centers on the Flash as the main protagonist, dealing with a problem that only he can handle.
The best way that I can describe Flashpoint is as the DC Universe’s own version of Back to the Future Part II. Basically, Biff Tannent (a.k.a. Professor Zoom) has gone back in time and altered the course of history, and Marty McFly (a.k.a. The Flash) has returned to a Hill Valley (a.k.a. the DC Universe) that he no longer recognizes.
The result is a very fascinating alternate universe, very reminiscent of Marvel’s X-Men: Apocalypse back in the 90’s. I can tell from the secondary titles and the supplementary content that a lot of thought was put into fleshing out as much detail into this setting as possible. Thus far, the main series seems to gloss over the details, but mostly because it’s focusing on The Flash as a fish out of water (essentially mirroring the reader’s position.) So, if you’re only reading Flashpoint, you’re basically being guided around the new universe as though it were a tourist attraction.
Back in issue two, when Barry Allen attempted to recreate the accident that granted him super-speed and instead nearly killed himself, I have to admit that I actually laughed out loud at the sheer absurdity of it. It reminded me of an episode of Family Guy, when Mayor Adam West rolled around in toxic waste in the hopes of gaining superpowers, but instead developed lymphoma.
Dr. Hartman: Mayor West, you have lymphoma.
West: Oh, my …
Dr. Hartman: Probably from rolling around in that toxic waste.
West: I see …
Dr. Hartman: What in God’s name were you trying to prove?
West: I was trying to gain superpowers.
Dr. Hartman: Well, that’s just silly.
West: Silly, yes. Idiotic, yes …
In issue three, we see that the attempt didn’t kill him, but did leave him horribly disfigured; flash-fried, if you’ll pardon the pun. However, the Flash is nothing if not persistent. If at first you don’t succeed at gaining superpowers by intentionally electrocuting yourself with volatile chemicals, try and try again. I hate to be the continuity nitpicker here, but I thought the lightning bolt that gave Barry Allen his powers was caused by a future Barry Allen travelling back through time, thus creating a predestination paradox. I’m not too sure what made Barry think this would work, especially considering that it didn’t work the first time. But whatever, magic + science fiction gobbledygook = Barry gets his powers back.
The Flash teams up with Batman and Cyborg, forming the first strands of a Justice League. To be honest, the idea of Cyborg being a member of the Justice League doesn’t sit right with me. Johns goes to great lengths to make sure the readers know just how awesome Vic Stone really is (even getting an endorsement from President Obama himself,) presumably to warm us up for eventually including him as a founding member post-Relaunch. To me Cyborg always has and always will be a Teen Titan, and this is an opinion that Johns ironically cemented back during his run on Teen Titans.
Their first mission is to break into Project Superman and recruit the man who should have been Superman. Finally we get a glimpse at whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow in this timeline. In this universe, Kal-El’s spaceship crash-landed in the middle of Metropolis, causing a catastrophe that killed thousands of people. Instead of being raised on Smallville by the Kent’s, Kal-El was taken into government captivity.
Like Barry, I’m sure the reading audience was expecting to see Superman in some recognizable form. To see the Man of Steel as a short, pale, thin and utterly terrified figure who has never been exposed to yellow sunlight was quite a shocking revelation. The image is actually strikingly similar to a pre-Captain America Steve Rogers of Marvel fame, a parallel which I fully endorse. Considering that Andy Kubert is working the pencils on this one, I strongly doubt this was unintentional.
Right now we’re three issues in, we’re past the halfway point, and yet it feels like the series is only getting started rather than reaching its climax. I suppose a lot can still happen in the next two issues, but so far we have not caught any glimpses at the alleged mastermind behind this event, Professor Zoom, nor have we received any hint as to what has motivated him towards drastically altering the timeline. It’s a fun and enjoyable issue, but the time for set-up is over. It’s time to hit the ground running.
Overall Grade: 7/10