I picked up both issues 1 & 2 of Flashpoint because apparently I’m a sucker for marketing. It hadn’t particularly interested me until in a flurry of press activity it was mentioned that Flashpoint would be the event that rebooted the entire DC universe back to issue 1. At the time (a week is a long time in politics, but apparently even longer in comic books) I was so excited by the prospect I was in danger of having a fanboy stroke, but soon enough my initial excitement subsided, as it became clear that it’s not really the year dot redux I had believed it to be. Its more a reordering, alteration or reset of the post Crisis on infinite earths DCU. Admittedly it’s a bit more pick and mix than that, but regardless, its about time one of the big two moved to same day digital release (for a much more in depth and frankly more considered argument than I could make regarding the rights and wrongs decision see the twitter time lines of @nixsight or @davidwynne , amongst others) and the prospect of 52 brand new titles to delve into is a tantalising one in itself. I however am still left wondering if I picked this book up more because of the hype surrounding what is to come rather than because of the tale itself.
So its clear the marketing dragged me in if not the creative team necessarily. Although not top of my list of favourite creators it’s an admittedly stellar line up of creators. DC’s “go to” man Geoff Johns on script, and Andy Kubert of the great comic book dynasty (does son and father constitute a dynasty? If only I had a way of looking the word up….) on pencils. It seems to promise something big, brash and bold and on that front it certainly delivers. It has the frenetic pace that you would fully expect of a DC event book, albeit without the intellect that underpinned Final Crisis for instance, and is drawn in colourful brash style, with spandex stretched across the page as far as the eye can see. It attempts to build a intriguing alternate DC reality with many of our favourite characters altered almost beyond recognition, or some cases having never existed in the first place, and in one case both. It’s a world tearing itself apart with Aquaman and Wonder woman having lain waste to the majority of Western Europe, and the rest of the planet engulfed in conflict and crisis, with only two men, Cyborg and Batman, appearing to have the stones to be able to bring it back to order. It’s just the first can’t persuade the latter that this is indeed the case…
We are guided through this story by the Flash, or at least Barry Allan, a man who thinks he used to be the Flash, because in this reality he’s stripped of power, reduced to the puny status of a mere mortal one of us, so perfectly placed to guide us, his fellow gutter dwellers, through this tumultuous event. He’s desperate to find out why he finds himself in such a predicament. If things are to fundamentally change in the DC universe then it seems we need the Flash front and centre of the action.
His investigations take him to Gotham where he witnesses Cyborg’s attempts to form a rag tag army of misfits and heroes (some of whom are far from such in the DCU we know so well) to take down the mad Amazonian and the fish king, but witnesses his failure to bring the Dark Knight on board, shattering any accord this vagabond army may have already had. In fact it’s Batman who is the most intriguing of all the altered characters. We discover that much like current continuity, it’s not Bruce under the cowl, with a very different tale that has persuaded this man to take up a life of brutal vigilante justice. After a little light investigation, breaking and entering and frankly baffling interaction, Batman seems to have become somewhat bi-polar in his attitude to intruders he finds in his subterranean sanctuary, we discover that an old adversary of Barry’s must be behind these mysterious changes, the revelation of which leads him to make a very rash decision.
Unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the DCU this book is best read with the aid of Wikipedia, as Johns treats us to an array of favourite characters from comic book past. I felt I could keep pace to a point but at several moments in both books I felt the need to dash off and kneel before the all knowing internet god. It’s not a massive problem and one I’m used to in event books, it doesn’t detract from enjoyment in itself. It’s a given and speaks more of the ignorance of this reader (possibly) rather than the over exuberance of the writer.
I really want to enjoy this book and, on one level I did get a visceral kick out of the supercharged action which appears sporadically throughout the first two issues, but at this point there is something missing. I’m unable to put my finger on it, but it just doesn’t feel immersive, I felt as a reader I was skimming across the surface without ever really being pulled in. This may change as the series develops; but with two issues down, it feels that with the size of the crisis facing our heroes, it has an awful lot to do to both explain and resolve in the remaining 3 issues.
Ultimately I will continue picking it up, but unfortunately for the same reasons I first took a look. It has an impact on what is to come in the future, rather than being a book for the present, and for me, suffers for it.