The event that rewrites DC’s history wrapped up on Wednesday. Here’s a review of the five issues of the main series, but none of the crossovers.
Title: Flashpoint #1-5
Author: Geoff Johns
Illustrator(s): Andy Kubert (pencils), Sandra Hope (inks on all issues), Jesse Delperdang (inks on #5)
Cover Date: July 2011 – October 2011
Cover Price: $3.99 US per issue in print. Digital versions are at that price for four weeks, and then drop to $2.99 each. In addition, the digital store on ComiXology also has “Digital Deluxe” versions. For an extra dollar, they include the pages that show pencils or inks only throughout the issues for those interested in the artistic process.
Barry Allen wakes up at his desk one day and the world has changed around him. He hasn’t gone to a parallel world or an alternate history; this is the same Earth he’s always lived on with a new history, and he can’t find anyone who realizes the world has changed. Atlantis and Themasera are at war, western Europe has been destroyed, the Flash has no powers, Cyborg is the world’s leading superhero, nobody has heard of Superman, and Thomas Wayne assumed the mantle of Batman after the death of his son. It’s up to Barry Allen to fix the world while he still remembers it’s broken.
The new Batman.
The reintroduction of Subject 1. Deus Ex much?
We’ve all seen alternate histories before if we’ve read comics at all, particularly with DC’s old Elseworlds line. Granted, Elseworlds stories didn’t even pretend to be in continuity, while this is probably the most continuity-significant story to come out of DC since Crisis on Infinite Earths. It is structurally similar to House of M, but with far more elements of the alternate world surviving the transition back to the new continuity. The elements of originality come through in the origin of the new history of the world, as well as some of its elements. I give it 4 out of 6.
The artwork by Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope and their team is excellent. Looking at the sheer number of plot points, this could be expected to be an 8-12 issue series, but they jammed it into five. This art team delivered, using a lot of subtlety in some very detailed panels to convey everything that had to be conveyed in a very efficient manner. I give it 5 out of 6.
The story is dense. It is very much from the perspective of Barry Allen. While he is not in every scene, it carries only the bare minimum number of details to explain his decisions. From that perspective, all of the details are there. If you want to know why characters arrive and depart as we have seen and what motivates them, you’ll need the tie-in issues. I give this 5 out of 6.
The characterization if Barry Allen, Thomas Wayne, and Eobard Thawne is excellent. I’m not at all clear on why Aquaman and Wonder Woman are now as they are, and what changed in their histories, but I assume those answers are in their respective three issue miniseries. The main characters are well handled, but the less frequently used (though hardly unimportant) characters are pretty one dimensional. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response is decent. There are interesting moments, particularly with this new Batman and with Barry’s ordeal in the final issue, but there’s a certain amount of disengagement that is inevitable when promotional materials have already revealed that certain elements of this story are not going to survive into September. I give it 4 out of 6.
The flow is hindered only by the very rapid pacing of the story to fit it all into five issues. Some of the scene transitions get a bit abrupt. I give it 4 out of 6.
Overall, this is entertaining, and is highly recommended to those who are familiar with the state of the DCU prior to August 31 of this year. New readers should skip this event and move directly into Justice League #1 released the same day. I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, Flashpoint #1-5 receives 35 out of 42.