REVIEW: Flashpoint #1

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DC Comics’ big summer crossover, Flashpoint, began today and out of the gate it’s showing a lot of potential. There’s an element of mystery to go along with the strange new world we’re seeing and some intriguing redesigns for DC’s heroes. After the disappointing finish to Brightest Day, having this book on the shelf is a welcome sight as creators Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope are off to a strong start.

We’re going to spoil plot points for the issue and series here.

PTB: I’m glad to see interior artist Andy Kubert is also providing the regular cover art for this series. I’m sure there will be tons of variants, but the regular cover looks great and is perfect for the opening issue. It reminds me of Giant Size X-Men #1 and while Flash isn’t bursting through the page, he does seem to be charging forward against the figures in the background.

KevinMLD: Which is an interesting decision considering we learn that the Flash has no powers in the Flashpoint world. I like the Flash’s running pose here better than some of the interior work, particularly the first splash page.

PTB: Who are we looking at on this cover? We read in the issue that it’s the Barry Allen Flash at the center along with what appears to be Cyborg, Batman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman looming in the background above the Gotham City skyline. It’s all very pertinent to what happens inside.

KevinMLD: Yeah I think that seems to be the case. Also, is Barry’s costume ripping apart or forming around him? I can’t tell.

PTB: The first few pages give a nice recap of Barry Allen’s history. I’m not really familiar with it, so it was exactly what I needed. You’re going to have to fill me in on who’s part of the “Flash Family” though.

KevinMLD: The only piece of Barry Allen’s background they left out was how boring he is.

The female Impulse is Wally West’s daughter. She received that costume during Flash: Reborn. I don’t know that she has appeared since.

The Flash with the nose covered cowl is Wally West. He’s the original Kid Flash and was the main Flash for the last 20 years. He hasn’t really appeared in costume since Flash: Reborn. It’s a major point of contention for a lot of modern era Flash fans… myself included. I feel like DC has been forcing Barry Allen down my throat.

The woman in the center is Jessie Quick, she’s a member of the Justice Society (or was). Her father was also a member of the JSA.

Next to her with the blue mask is Max Mercury. He’s the zen master of the speed force or something and was a caretaker/mentor for the original Impulse/current Kid Flash, Bart Allen – Barry’s grandson from the future who is missing from this image.

Jay Garrick is the original Flash and has one of my favorite costumes with his awesome hat. He’s also a member of the Justic Society.

I actually have no idea who the female on the right is besides that she’s obviously a member of the Legion of Superheroes. There are way too many members of the Legion to possibly keep track of them all. They might as well be X-Men.

PTB: I didn’t read the Free Comic Book Day preview for Flashpoint, but I’m guessing this is the panel with the coloring mistake that got a bit of attention last week?

KevinMLD: Exactly, the Legionaire on the right had white skin and I think blond hair in the preview comic.

PTB: That’s a pretty glaring error. While I couldn’t tell you who most of those Flash characters are, I’m impressed that I can identify everyone on the two-page Justice League spread. Well maybe not that woman from Teen Titans. I don’t know her name.

KevinMLD: Her name is Starfire. I’m not even sure why she’s there. She’s the only Titan, but technically she hasn’t even been a Titan in a while. I think she was in the new terrible Dick Grayson led Justice League for a few issues before moving over to the recently cancelled space book called R.E.B.E.L.S.

PTB: When I got to the “Citizen Cold” bit in the police station, I knew I was going to love this book. I hate that the villain group he’s part of is called “the Rogues” though.

KevinMLD: I agree on the Rogues title, but they are a really fun group of villains. One of the best group of enemies for any character in comics.

PTB: We quickly see through Barry that the world is not as it seems. I love how alterations expand from Captain Cold, to Barry’s parents, to the Flash and the Justice League, ultimately leading to the two-page spread of Batman over the streets of Gotham City.

KevinMLD: Yeah it plays out nicely.

PTB: Redesigns are a big part of alternate universe stories and I have to say I immediately liked the new Batman’s look.

KevinMLD: I’m not a fan of the red circle behind the bat on his chest. This reminds me of a terrible old Earth-Two Robin costume. Love the red eyes though.

PTB: The change is far more than cosmetic and this Batman is willing to cross a lot of lines the Bruce we know wouldn’t. Assuming it’s casino mogul Bruce Wayne in the costume of course.

Speaking of crossed lines, the $3.99 price tag was disappointing to see simply because DC made such a big deal of keeping things at $2.99. I really wanted them to keep that as a hard price cap, but the last two DC books I’ve purchased have been over that mark. They’re the only DC titles I’m buying though.

KevinMLD: DC’s been very clear that they were talking about 20-page ongoing series when they talk about the $2.99 books.

PTB: OK, let’s get back to the story. As proud as I was to be able to name nearly all of the DC heroes on the two-page spread in the opening, the two-page spread of the Flashpiont “heroes” has all of three characters I can identify: Citizen Cold, Green Lantern Abin Sur, and maybe a Golden Age Sandman.

KevinMLD: I’m pretty sure most of these characters are new.

PTB: There’s a bizarre printing/color effect on this spread as the lower half of the pages have angled lines where everything below them has an odd color scheme, but only in the background Batman and Cyborg look fine. It turns out a few pages later that the assembled heroes are all holograms present to vote on what to do about the attacks on Europe from Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s armies.

KevinMLD: You know, I didn’t even catch that they were holograms on my first read through it.

PTB: I would have liked to see Wonder Woman and Aquaman get a code name change here, but I really like their status as would be world conquerors in Flashpoint. It makes them automatic heavy hitters from the outset.

KevinMLD: It sounds like they may even be the title’s initial villains at least until the book inevitably switches it’s focus to restoring the old timeline.

PTB: How has Cyborg changed in the Flashpoint world? He seems to be a respected hero that everyone trusts.

KevinMLD: He seems to be more respected and successful than his current version who has been playing a behind the scenes role in Titans and JLA. We haven’t really seen enough of him here to determine how he’s different.

PTB: We get more mystery as the debate of how to save the world goes on and more mystery with the “Secret Seven.” Any idea who or what “Rac” is?

KevinMLD: No. Maybe I should know, but I don’t. They clearly have more in common with the old timeline’s Shadowpact than that timeline’s Secret Six.

PTB: It’s always tough to know if something is a hint you should get or completely new when it comes to alternate universes. I find all of these kids are terribly confusing. There’s Billy, Mary, Pedro, Zabu or whatever that tiger’s name is.

KevinMLD: Billy is Captain Marvel in our reality. Mary is Mary Marvel. Freddy is Captain Marvel Jr. They hung out with a humanoid talking tiger named Tawny. I can’t identify the other kids.

PTB: Is this Captain Thunder a transformed version of the kid with the tiger?

KevinMLD: I suspect Captain Thunder is all of those kids combined together like Voltron.

PTB: Interesting. Who is this Outsider? Any connection to the Batman and the Outsiders title?

KevinMLD: Presumedly. I’m not well enough versed in Outsiders lore to say for sure, but I’m not aware of any of them hailing from India.

PTB: Is Blackout actually Milestone character Static?

KevinMLD: Static’s name isn’t Farooq so I don’t believe so.

PTB: After we’re introduced to this burgeoning coalition of heroes, we cut back to Barry Allen to wrap up issue #1. Are we to assume Barry’s wife is married to Wally West? I’m confused by what we see though, is that him or the nephew he mentions?

KevinMLD: No no no. Barry’s wife is Wally’s aunt.

PTB: Oh, so West is her maiden name. After Barry’s heartbreaking discovery that Iris doesn’t know him, we hear a voice that suggests someone else knows the world has changed as a Flash-like character zips past Barry’s mother. I’m assuming that scene is just for the readers and Barry isn’t actually aware of what happened? Not that I’m entirely aware of what happened.

KevinMLD: That was the Reverse Flash. He killed Barry’s mom in the old DC timeline. In Flash #12, the final issue of that run, he revealed that the speedforce is really time and that he has learned to manipulate it in ways Barry hasn’t imagined yet. In addition he has demonstrated a new ability to change the age of his body. As far as we know, his meddling with time has somehow caused Flashpoint.

PTB: Flash borrowing a car and getting stuck in traffic was a fun piece of comic relief.

KevinMLD: Agreed.

PTB: I absolutely loved the ending when Barry seeks out the one hero he knows is operating in this world, Batman. I’m assuming the revelation of who’s under the cowl is the spoiler that appeared early this week. I haven’t actually looked at it.

KevinMLD: I hadn’t seen it actually spoiled anywhere. I just saw a lot of people saying there was a “holy $#?!” moment that I assumed would inevitably be spoiled. But it certainly was a great way to end issue one. I should have expected this twist ending. Johns had said in an interview that this was a different, older, meaner Batman. There’s really no one else it could have been.

PTB: It’s a great reveal and I loved that he was the narrator. I’m so glad this wasn’t spoiled for me. It’s so much more meaningful than Nekron being behind Blackest Night or Swamp Thing and John Constantine showing up at the conclusion to Brightest Day.

KevinMLD: I don’t think there’s a person alive who wouldn’t have understood the implications of this reveal.

PTB: This series is bound to be compared to the Marvel’s Age of Apocalypse and it’s fair as far as the concept. Age of Apocalypse was bolder from a publication standpoint as none of the regular DCU titles are being replaced from what I know. They’re just publishing a slew of Flashpoint miniseries.

KevinMLD: They did cancel a bunch of books to coincide with the launch of Flashpoint. In addition to the Flash title, I think Outsiders and R.E.B.E.L.S. have ended. Maybe Doom Patrol too.

PTB: There wasn’t a central miniseries for Age of Apocalypse per se, which makes Flashpoint far more accessible to a casual reader. I really like that I can come to this without reading anything but the one title.

KevinMLD: As far as I know this is the case. Though I suspect the Aquaman and Wonder Woman books may enhance the experience. If you’re interested in the origin of The Outsider or the SHAZAM kids, you may need to pick up those books.

PTB: At this point I think I can get by without knowing, but it is good to see that the associated series may bring some depth. Being thrown into this strange new world also calls to mind comparisons to the Marvel’s recent Age of X crossover. I love the mystery element of how and why the world has changed, and I assume it won’t be easy for me to connect the dots knowing so little about the DC Universe.

KevinMLD: True, but I’m hoping you won’t need to connect the dots to enjoy the story. Plus, it would seem that we know the Reverse Flash caused Flashpoint. The real mystery is how.

PTB: That’s a good point. I didn’t read Flash #12, but from what you’ve said and his brief appearance here all signs are pointing to him. I’m just curious if there will be a moment or an event that changed in the history of the DC Universe that serves as the catalyst for the Flashpoint world.

KevinMLD: I’m sure we’ll learn what the Reverse Flash has done to cause Flashpoint, but the more interesting question might be what will be the ramifications of Flashpoint. I had thought maybe at best a few new characters would escape this world and return to the classic DC Universe, but could DC have grander plans? DC has revealed that on August 31st, Flashpoint #5 will be the only title DC ships “because of its impact on the DC Universe.”

What could that impact be? Could this Batman return to New Earth? Could the Flash die? Could the Flashpoint version of Europe that has been decimated by war replace New Earth’s Europe? Or on an even larger scale than all of that, could DC be establishing a brand new continuity for the DC Universe like they did when New Earth debuted after Infinite Crisis?

Read more about DC Comics’ Flashpoint on MyLatestDistraction,
and follow each issue of the series here:

Flashpoint #2

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