Next week sees the publication of Flashpoint #5, the last DC comic before the relaunch. And I’ve managed to get my hands on the script.
There’s a lot riding on this comic book. It’s the lynch-pin of the DC’s entire reboot. It’s the conclusion to a massive DC event. On its back an entire universe, and the future fortunes of the publishing of comic books turns.
But is it any good?
Well yes, but not in the ways I was expecting. Okay, this is going to stay as spoiler-free as I can. It’s a multiple act comic and I’m not going to spoil any of those twists and turns any more than has already been achieved.
Now I like a good time travel story. How one change can have spiraling changes, a world, a universe twisting on a butterfly stamped underfoot. And then following that one moment to all the changes it makes, an intricate web. And Flashpoint #5 doesn’t even try to do that. The death of Bruce Wayne, the capturing of Superman, the non-choice of Hal Jordan of Green Lantern, none emerges from the specific choice that was made in the past, instead they are more like the shock effects of a sledge hammer.
So that initially annoyed me. Of course, so did Robocop Vs Terminator and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency‘s use of time travel and they ended up becoming my favourites. I identified my inner hater and neutralised him. Once that was achieved, reading the rest of the script was far more enjoyable.
Because this works on a more emotional level, it’s raw, it’s destructive and far less planned. Flashpoint has always been a Batman and Flash story, even as the crossovers tried to spin this wider as a worldwide event – if anything this let Geoff Johns more able to focus on the pair. Of course, it’s Batman father and a Flash struggling to stay the same person, and that’s where the core of this book is, at the heart of the matter. The Flash’s attempt to put right what once went wrong. And hoping his next leap will be the leap home. And Batman’s hopes and dreams are riding on it, as well as the fate of the whole world, and the Flash’s mother, resting on it.
This reminds me nothing more than Russell T Davies’ work on Doctor Who. Giving enough sci-fi to tease, dazzle and excite, then hand waving the hardcore away to focus on an emotional truth and bringing that to the fore, and playing up family and the parent/child relationship for all its worth. Is Geoff getting broody at all? Then using the Flash to speed from one point to another, so we don’t have to dwell, leaving sense behind along with the Cosmic Treadmill.
This takes quite some explaining as Geoff Johns goes into Alan Moore-style detail to talk about timelines and characters, what they mean to each other and what they mean to The Flash and teasing all sorts of things for the future. Including a very unfamiliar character that looks as if it may have relevance to Justice Leagues to come.
There are many differences berween reading a script and the comic. Geoff gives Andy Kubert a number of challenges here, I’ve no idea if he’s lived up to them – or improved upon them. But this splash, and the pages that follow, is the big one.
Flashpoint #5 has a lot to do. It needs to take three existing continuities and tie them together into the new 52. It needs to set up a while bunch of future stories. But first and foremost it needs to provide a satisfying end to Flashpoint.
And I think it does that. Nothing is left unsaid, characters’ arc’s come to natural conclusions, even if their final fates are left up in the air. Talking of which, Superman fans will have a fit. But Flash fans will find it fitting that another massive change in DC will come about thanks to the Flash…
And Batman fans…?
Guys, gals, you’re going to need tissues for the final underplayed scene with Batman and the Flash. Damn, that’s good writing.
Keep it up.
Americans and Canadians will be able to read the whole comic from midnight Tuesday next week, if your comic store owner is mad enough to stay up that late. The rest of us, including me, will have to wait till Wednesday…