Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Flashpoint #5:  OK, here's the thing.  This issue is the best of the series.  It's clear:  we're given cause, effect, and consequence.  Barry Allen decided to go to the past to save his mother from Reverse Flash.  However, Reverse Flash was in transit at the time Barry does so (presumably on the way to kill Flash's mother).  By altering the world while Reverse Flash was in the time stream, Barry created a time paradox, causing Reverse Flash to have left one time stream only to enter another.  In so doing, Reverse Flash now existed independent of Flash, whereas, before, he was always tied to Flash since he needed to ensure that the Speed Force reached him in the 25th century.  I'm not saying that makes sense, per se, but I'm saying that, in the context of time-travel stories, it makes more sense than we usually see.

The problem is that this issue feels like a one-shot, not the culmination of a five-issue mini-series that changes everything we know about the DC Universe.  Because Johns never lays the groundwork for this reveal (in fact, this issue is the first one where we really see Reverse Flash), the revelation that it was Barry that caused the change in the first place falls entirely and hopelessly flat.  I feel like we probably could've had an entire issue based on that reveal, with Reverse Flash revealing the truth and then Johns detailing the events surrounding Barry's decision to save his mother and his efforts to do so.  Without seeing that, we just have to take at face value that Barry was so grief-stricken that one day suddenly decide to shatter time.  It's a hard sell for only a few panels. 

Moreover, once we settle all that, we rush through Barry's tearful conversation with his mother by cramming a lot of conversation into three pages and end the issue with no real idea what changed.  We get some mysterious figure telling us about three timelines (though I'm pretty sure the DC Universe has had many more than three) and, boom, suddenly, we're in the "present."  The scene between Flash and Batman at the end is well done, but it still falls flat, since it gives us no hint anything really has changed.  In fact, if we didn't know about the reboot, reading that scene would leave you to believe nothing, at all, is different.

At the end of the day, I feel like it's that problem right there that doomed "Flashpoint."  This series was nothing more than a regular old "Flash" story.  It's pretty clear that DC seized on something Johns had planned just for "Flash" and used it to change everything.  You can tell because it's rushed, a fact made all the more shocking when you're talking about Johns and Kubert, who are the best at what they do.  In the end, it's a forgettable story, not really the memorable bridge between the two realities -- the old DC Universe and the new DC universe -- but a rushed attempt to explain an editorial decision that almost would've been better presented without comment.

All that said, "Brand New Day" in "Amazing Spider-Man" proved that you can reboot a series so long as you don't totally disregard continuity AND you tell a great story.  For example, I'll be a lot more comfortable with the reboot if we get confirmation that Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne were, for a time, Batman and Robin.  If we learn those events didn't happen, however, I think it'll be hard to get over that, at least immediately, given that I thought their stories were some of the best ones the Bat-books have ever told.  Similarly, I hope we don't see Superboy returning to the era where he was constantly lamenting the fact that he was "just a clone."  This whole endeavor of rebooting the line has a lot of excellent possibilities, but it also has some serious pitfalls.  We'll see how it goes.

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