"Flashpoint" in the Pan? Maybe.

"Flashpoint" #1 from DC Comics

I'm sure you've heard the joke about "The Twilight Zone"? Which "Twilight Zone" episode am I talking about? Oh, you know, the one where he wakes up and everything is different? Right.

The joke's only funny if you know there's several episodes of Rod Serling's brilliant 1950s sci-fi paranoia anthology TV show that fit that description but I couldn't shake that joke from the back of my head as I read the first issue of DC's newest crossover event, "Flashpoint" #1. Barry Allen, police scientist and secret identity of the Flash, wakes up and the world is not as he knows it. That is the entirety of the premise of "Flashpoint" as I understand it.

Geoff Johns (@geoffjohns) is not entirely on his game in this one, folks. I'm afraid there's simply not enough going on to keep my interest. Where's the ability he showed in the first twenty pages of "Blackest Night" #1 to make me care about the characters with a few carefully chosen powerful images and strong words? I don't care about Barry after the first five pages and I don't care about the overload of new characters introduced in this first issue. The first five pages are great. Is this what we're going to get, a slimmer and slimmer set-up with actual human feeling every time Johns writes an event book?

I also think penciler Andy Kubert's work has simply seen better days. The characters' body language and anatomy feel wrong. Off balance. Again, the first five pages feel much closer to physical reality, with weight to the bodies. Somehow things got rushed later on. Possibly the blame is to rest with inker Sandra Hope? A few moments are almost painful in their awkwardness. Mind you, it is still better than the great majority of comics art out there. Solid stuff from the Kubert family as always.

Back to the story: Why would you introduce me to a dozen new characters on one page and then give me four or five pages of those characters arguing about past events without specific explanations or emotions? The worst part is how much it all feels so rote now after so many alternate universe stories and so many crises. Bored is too strong a word. It's not boring. The cliffhanger at the conclusion of this first issue assures that. It is a very exciting reveal of a character's secret identity. The Batman of the alternate 'Flashpoint universe' (as it's being called) is NOT Bruce Wayne. Very cool. And a few pages before it we see a man used to moving at super-speed stuck in traffic. Drawn out to seven panels to make you FEEL it. Very well-done.

This latest crossover-event offering from DC is not "Blackest Night". It's a 90% regurgitation of material and concepts we've seen many times and it's not done so well as to make the trip down the same road worth it. Passable art and just below passable story. That other 10%? Damn good stuff. We'll see where this goes.

Issue #2 does look more promising. Looking forward to reading it carefully. I am also currently reading "The Flash" #12 (the end of a story with the slightest of lead-ins to "Flashpoint") to determine if there are elements I'm missing that make this story a bit more understandable and/or exciting. I don't believe we should encourage this one-comic-is-needed-to-understand-another storytelling structure but I will post an update at a later date just the same.

~ @JonGorga

As a side note, the "Flashpoint" crossover-event's structure looks something like this:

Five issues of the main limited series.
"Flashpoint" #1-5

In simultaneous or semi-simultaneous occurrence with...

1 series' tie-in issues.
"Booster Gold" #44-47

20 different side mini-series.
"Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Secret 7" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Abin Sur - The Green Lantern" 1-3
"Flashpoint: World of Flashpoint" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Citizen Cold" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Legion of Doom" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Grodd of War" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance" 1-3
"Flashpoint: The Outsider" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Reverse Flash" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Project Superman" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Hal Jordan" 1-3
"Flashpoint: Canterbury Cricket" 1-3

The problem I'm observing with these books is that they're not selling. No matter how good or bad they may be, they're too new to be comfortable and too old to be fresh.

If Image Comics (@ImageComics) was releasing an entirely new book called "The Canterbury Cricket", I would say to myself "What the hell is that? I'll take a look." But "Flashpoint: The Canterbury Cricket" is part of a larger game, and appears to be about an alternate version of Ambush Bug fighting in a resistance force with Lois Lane against the armies of Aquaman and Wonder Woman.

WHAT? Exactly. If you are familiar with these characters, they're all jumbled into a not particularly interesting new status quo. If you're not, you can tell that you're missing something in the parallel with the old status quo.

I'm sure some people have the money and time to read all of these books and make sense of the bigger picture. Maybe years down the line I will do so myself and discover a rich experience for my effort. That's what happened for me with Marvel's "House of M" event. But the difference is after reading "House of M" #1, I could read the "Wolverine" HoM tie-in issues and enjoy them. "Wonder Woman and the Furies" and even what's probably the best of them: "Batman Knight of Vengeance" written by Brian Azzarello (@brianazzarello) just aren't convincing me to give up my money because they stand-alone and together at the same time in an unsatisfying way.

UPDATE 7/20:

I've posted an editorial about my reaction to "The Flash" #12 and its ramifications for "Flashpoint" #1, you can read it here.

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