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Comic Book Review – Flashpoint #1

By: Adam Basciano

The Story:

Barry Allen is awoken from an unexpected on the job nap, by his co-worker in the Central City crime lab.  Barry Allen’s boss Director Singh barges in demanding more concrete evidence connecting the city’s so called “hero” Citizen Cold to the murder of Miss Alchemy. Perplexed, Barry corrects his boss by reminding him that Captain Cold is no hero, and that he’s affiliated with the Rogues. Director Singh is confused, but before the conversation can continue, news breaks of a shoot out between Citizen Cold and the Pied Piper.  Barry runs off to save the day, but stumbles, falls down a flight of stairs, and hits his head.  When he comes to, he is greeted by his mother.  While Barry is overjoyed to see his mother, he knows something isn’t right.  His mother was killed  when he was a child.  Barry begins asking questions to determine what exactly is going on.  He discovers that his mother has never heard of The Flash, Justice League, or Superman, but she is well aware of Batman.

Speaking of Batman, he’s chasing down a common criminal, looking for the whereabouts of  the Joker.  When Batman doesn’t get the answers he wants, he forces the criminal to the edge of a building.  She falls as Batman watches, but before she hits the ground, she’s caught by Cyborg.  Cyborg and a gathering of various heroes and villains have come to Gotham to ask Batman to join them in their war against Aquaman and Wonder Woman.  Their quests for world domination has led to the death of millions of people.  Batman refuses.  Meanwhile, a confused Barry Allen heads to Gotham City, in the hopes that Batman will have an explanation as to what’s happening. Barry arrives at Wayne Manor to find it in shambles.  As he descends to the Bat – Cave, he finds it barren.  Two memento’s are kept.  A gun, and a photograph of the Wayne family.  Barry is attacked by Batman, and in the process discovers that Bruce Wayne was shot and killed on that fatal night, and Batman is……Thomas Wayne!

My Thoughts:

When an “event” comic is released, I’m alway’s a little skeptical because they all promise big changes, but eventually the status quo remains intact. Never the less, I was excited about Flashpoint because of Geoff Johns and the alternate reality factor.  This issue works on two levels.  For those reading “The Flash”, they are one step ahead of the game, as the events in Flashpoint directly springboard out of that title.  For those who don’t read the scarlet speedster, don’t worry Geoff Johns has given you the basic info you need.  In fact, centering this event on one specific character is smart because the reader is just as confused as Barry Allen, and navigates this changed world with him.  Speaking of changes, wow I wasn’t expecting that.  Aquaman and Wonder Woman evil, and their feuding against each other for control.  Sure, many elseworlds have pulled the role reversal card before, but those were almost always completely alternate universes.  This is all happening in the DCU proper.  Yeah it’s a screwed up DCU, but still.  Given the fact that both Aquaman and Wonder Woman have been handled so poorly over the years, this is a refreshing spin on the characters.

What made this issue for me was Batman. My jaw hasn’t hit the floor that hard after reading the last page of a comic book since Superman died.  Thomas Wayne is Batman, and he’s not averse to killing criminals, or at least watching them “slip” and fall to their death.  For those wondering, yes Bruce Wayne is really dead.  It’s not fake dead a la “Batman: R.I.P.”  What’s interesting to note, is that while Bruce’ s quest is about stopping criminals, Thomas’ quest is motivated by vengeance even more so than his son.  It also reads much like a suicide mission, as Thomas would rather be dead, then live in a world without his son.

Andy Kubert does great work in this issue. I’d imagine that drawing such iconic characters to portray a different set of circumstances would be difficult.  Yet Andy strikes a happy medium between characters looking the same, yet different all at once. The art really sells the optimism and light in the standard DCU, compared to the grim reality of the Flashpoint DCU.  The contrasting images of The Flash running on water, and Batman all red-eyed and demonic looking swinging above Gotham City are prime examples.  The final page’s shock value wouldn’t have been the same without the astounding work of Andy Kubert.

This issue is a set-up issue, and by definition not a lot happens.  However, we’re given a glimpse into this changed universe, which brings about many questions.  Ultimately, I was left clamouring for more by issues end, and that’s all you can really hope for from a kick off issue to an “event” story.

Overall Grade: 8.5/10 

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