Review – Flashpoint
Flashpoint (Flashpoint #1-5)
Writer: Geof Johns
Penciller: Joe Kubert
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Variant Covers: Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Poor Barry Allen. For the guy that’s credited to be the superhero that kick-started the Silver Age, he was killed off and basically missed then entire Modern Age. In Final Crisis Grant Morrison decided to resurrect him after 25 years missing almost the entirety of the Post Crisis Era. He still thought Jason Todd was Robin. Soon as he gets used to Post Crisis DC, what happens? It’s now it’s time for the New 52. Not only that, but he’s the caused it. That’s right, “Flashpoint” is not only the first ever company wide Flash-centric crossover event, it’s also the birth of The New 52. How does this story hold up now that the New 52 isn’t even the New 52 anymore? Let’s find out.
Barry Allen is woken up by his coworker before their boss Director Singh walks in on them. He ask them how far they’ve come to unmasking Central City’s greatest hero, Citizen Cold. Once they get word that hes currently in a battle with the Pied Piper at the Citizen Cold museum, Barry Allen sneaks out to head there and runs as fast as he can…which he discovers isn’t all that fast. He trips down a flight of stairs, but there to help him up is Nora Allen, his mother that he remembered being murdered as a child. She asks why he’s acting so weird and he tells her that’s he’s the Flash and a member of the Justice League. Nora however has never heard of the Justice League or any of its members, except for Batman of course (…of course…). He takes his mom to Iris’s work place, who Nora has ever heard of either. When he gets there however Iris is in the arms of her boyfriend, so he leaves before she even sees him.
Barry borrows his mom’s car to drive to Gotham City. Barry finds an abandoned Wayne Manor and the entrance to the Batcave completely unprotected. Batman finds Barry intruding and attacks him. Barry tries to tell him he knows he’s Bruce and he knows what happened in Crime Alley. Batman tells him Bruce Wayne is dead because he saw him die. That’s when Barry figured it out: Batman is Thomas Wayne, who survived Crime Alley instead of Bruce. That’s when Batman breaks Barry’s fingers and ask did the Joker send him. Barry tells him he’s The Flash, the Fastest Man Alive. Batman continues to beat him up and says he’s lying because he’s not fast enough to dodge his fist.
Barry is then hit with memories of Aquaman and Wonder Woman at war, and that’s when he realizes he’s not on a parallel Earth, he’s on his Earth but the time line’s been changed. Batman decides to stop punching Barry to hear him out. Barry’s ring falls out of his pocket, but when he picks it up he finds Reverse Flash’s costume in it except his own. Barry comes to the conclusion that Eobard Thawne must have changed the past. Barry tells Batman if they can find Reverse Flash they can change time to the way it’s supposed to be and Bruce will be alive. Barry tries to recreate the chemical that gave him his powers and since it’s raining he since in an electric chair Batman just happens to have lying around. He has every chemical that first gave him his powers next to the chair as Batman helps him straps in. Barry does get hit by lightning, which gives him 3rd degree burns all over his body.
As Barry is wrapped in bandages screaming from the pain, he tells Batman, he must do it again before his memories are completely replaced and he’ll forget Iris ever existed as well as Bruce. Batman takes him back to the chair, but before they could set the chemicals back up he’s struck by lightning again, but this his speed returns and his healing factor kicks in to heal his burns and broken fingers. After he makes himself a suit, they Googled what happened to the members of the Justice League. Barry finds out that Metropolis was bombed about 30 years ago by a rocket. Barry asked what happened to the rocket, and Batman tells him he knows someone that has that answer, America’s greatest hero…Cyborg?
Cyborg has been trying to recruit Batman, who is regarded the greatest strategist on the planet, but has declined his offer every time until now. Batman will join Cyborg’s attempt to end the war against Wonder Woman and Aquaman but only if he can assemble his team his way. He tells Cyborg to track down the man that was associated with the Metropolis destruction decades back. Cyborg downloads his location and they all travel to New Metropolis to sneak into Project Superman. They find Subject 1, which is a pale, malnourished Kal-El that is in a room with red Solar rays. The moment they make it outside, Subject 1 sees the Sun for the first time, and flies off, leaving Batman, Flash, and Cyborg to face the guards of Project: Superman. They resist but are quickly overwhelmed until Element Woman(her first comic appearance) appears and gasses the guards.
As they escape, Barry goes catatonic from memories of the new timeline. Batman sedates Flash because he knows if Flash forgets the other timeline there will be no way to save Bruce. He takes Flash to the foster home of Billy Batson and hopes the magic of Captain Thunder could help him. Barry wakes up and sees on the TV that pilot Hal Jordan has been killed by a fleet of invisible jets and Atlantis has invaded the Amazon home world of the United Kingdom, meaning their war is coming to an end and so could the entire planet. Flash takes Batman to the next room and tell him that people are dying and he needs to stop lying about helping Cyborg because he’s betting everything on Flash erasing this timeline altogether. When Flash tells him Bruce would do it, he convinces Batman to join. On the plane ride over Cyborg tries to recruit more people, which Enchantress joins by teleporting aboard Batman’s plane.
Flash think he will be able to talk Aquaman down even Batman has warned him Aquaman has killed millions of air breathers. Captain Thunder takes on Wonder Woman, but is betrayed by Entrantress. She turns him back into the six foster siblings that make him where Billy is killed by an Amazon. As Flash looks around and sees how bad the war is getting, he looks up and sees Reverse Flash standing over him. Flash asks him why did he do this, and he responds that Flash is the one responsible for everything that’s happening. Since Flash doesn’t remember, Reverse Flash uses his speed to reset Flash’s internal vibration (which he claims will be very painful for Flash but Reverse Flash is okay with that). Barry now remembers he’s the one that changed the timeline when he ran to the past to save his mother.
This also creates a new opportunity for Eobard Thawne. He could never kill Flash before because if there’s no Flash then there’s no Reverse Flash, so he just settles with torturing him. However since he was running though the time stream when it change he’s now a paradox, which means he’s free to kill Flash without holding back. He beats Flash pretty easily, and before he can deliver the final blow, he’s stabbed in the chest with a knife by Batman. They still have the problem of the war, as well as Enchantress attacking both sides, even killing Batman. As Batman dies he gives Flash a letter that he makes him promise to pass to Bruce. Subject 1 returns by dropping directly on top of Enchantress, and plans to end the war by himself. Aquaman has had enough and actives a seismic charge that will crack the planet in half.
Barry outruns the blast and is teleported to his mom still in this present timeline. He asks her what should he do, because he doesn’t want to lose her again. She basically tells him he has to let her go because of he doesn’t everyone will die anyway. They hug for the last time and he runs to the past when he first activates the Cosmic Treadmill. He’s able to stop himself from going back and changing the timeline, and just at that moment a woman appears (Pandora, her first comic appearance) she shows a Flash three different timelines, the one he’s from, Vertigo, and Wildstorm, as she combines them into one (you may know it better as the New 52…its first comic appearance).
Barry is awaken by his coworker at his desk, and as he looks around he knows that everything is back to normal. He runs to the Batcave, and finds Batman working on his utility belt. He ask him if he’s Bruce, and tells him th4 story of what happened. Batman asks him is everything is back to normal and Flash tells him it is, (even though both are wearing their New 52 costumes for the first time) Flash also tells Batman how he can still remember every moment he spent with his mother from the Flashpoint timeline which makes Batman envious, which is when Flash gives Bruce the letter from his father. Bruce reads it with tears in his eyes and thanks Barry. The End.
Without a doubt, this the greatest Flash story ever told which was very much by design. Like Blackest Night succeeded with Green Lantern, this was DC’s attempt at making a Flash-centric crossover event. They couldn’t be too risky however, which is why I suspect Batman is heavily featured. It’s an alternate timeline, but I have to admit the Flashpoint timeline was extremely engaging. This world could have easily supported it’s own series of books similar to Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, or DC’S very own Injustice series. There’s some very interesting plot twist that I would love to further explore, like Batman as Thomas Wayne and Joker as Martha, or even Cyborg replacing Superman as America’s greatest hero (He even has “Made in America” stamped on his suit). In fact Captain Thunder seemed much more of an interesting character than Shazam. I have to admit I am one of those guys that laughed at pre-52 Aquaman and called him useless, but trust me no one will laugh at this version. He’s downright scary, and seeing him as a villain just adds to his badassery.
I know quite a few of you want to know what’s the difference between this comic and the animated feature. You’ll be glad to know that this is one of the more faithful adaptations…except for one MAJOR change: Flashpoint Batman didn’t use guns. At all. Keep in mind he’s every bit as brutal and savage, he just never used a gun.
This book isn’t really known by many as the catalyst for the New 52. Reading this story it definitely felt out of place. Vertigo and Wildstorm appear out of nowhere even though they were not referenced even in the slightest. Well Grifter from WildC.A.Ts appears in the story (and killed off almost as fast by Enchantress) but there was no hint of this being a Crisis level event. Was it a last minute addition? Not sure, but since it basically happens after all the story beats are tied up so its negligible. Although I have to say rebooting a universe without a power boost is probably the most insane feat I’ve seen from an Earth based superhero that has his own title. Superman is OP? Flash fans would like to disagree.
Geoff Johns shows why he’s a genius. He even sets up plot points here that he’s still wrapping up in “Darksied War.” It’s not only a big blockbuster event, but there’s plenty of heart, emotion (this story made Batman cry. Let that sink in), and jaw dropping plot twists. The best crossover event of this decade and best Flash story of all time. The only negative I can think of is that the story is too short because I wanted to stay in this world a little while longer. Oh did I forget that’s it’s also the birth of the biggest event in the comic industry in the last 30 years? Must have slipped my mind.