Two books. Two big company event crossovers. Very different stories. But quite a bit of confusion.
In Flashpoint, we have a severly burnt Flash trying to regain his powers and putting the band back together, even if some of them don’t seem to exist any more. Which means finding a very different Superman indeed. I can’t talk about him here without giving away nice big meaty spoilers for the comic, so I’ll save that for a spoiler post to follow this one. But the Flash’s motivation is rather skewed here. Yes, he wants to somehow put his own timeline on track, and that will involve him getting his own time travelling powers back and somehow that has something to do with getting the Justice League back together again that the Reverse Flash engineered to never exist. But there’s a gap oin logic here, the Flash’s plans are never stated, but before long whatever those plans are merged with Cyborg who wants to stop the war between Atlantis and the Amazonians. While Batman’s motivations are… well, to hang around and help with a guy who claims to know the adult version of the son he had and who died as a child.
It’s just not convincing, characters going through the motions, acting in ways that serve the plot rather than the characters. The Justice League has to be recreated, the superheroes have to go to war, Batman must get involved with it all. We’re just never exactly sure why this is happening. But in the rush, the jumping from scene to scene and the weirdness of The Flash making lightning strike twice, and Goth Superman, it kind of works.
With Fear Itself, we don’t need quite so much pesky motivation. This is a very welcoming comic book for those who have just seen the movies and to that degree it’s a success. The image of Thor being thrown to Earth by the gods was a rather powerful one in the movie and it opens the issue here. Things are getting fucked up and must be stopped, even if it seems impossible. So Thor hits people with a big hammer and a Mark Millar-style end line. Steve Rogers stops brooding over Bucky, puts on the suit and picks up a machine gun. And Iron Man makes a deal with Odin with a rather poignant sacrifice to the gods. I’ll probably write something else about that later too.
But we do get a motivation for the bad guy here though, blatantly spoken so you can’t miss it. By creating fear on Earth, the Serpent gains power with which he can take down Odin. So there’s that. Although if he can do what he does to his avatars and give them those kind of weapons, one wonders why he just doesn’t do that to a million people. Then drop them on Asgard. Cut out the middle Midgard as it were.
But the reader is left informed even if the characters remain confused. The only real confusion is over a picture of Brian Bendis in the middle which totally looks like he’s wearing blusher and lipstick.
But Fear Itself maintains an adrenaline rush, that Flashpoint can’t match, it’s short but powerful, it does have a Michael Bay feel about it, but there is also the definite impression that there is an allegorical game of chess being played, events, characters and actions are playing out with intelligent design and it’s not all just hanging together on a wing and a prayer like Flashpoint. But neither is it quite as weird. It takes measured, sensible leaps. But superhero comics sometimes demand the oddness.