Flashpoint #1 (July, 2011)
“Flashpoint, Chapter One of Five”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Adam Kubert
Inker – Sandra Hope
Colorist – Alex Sinclair
Letterer – Nick J. Napolitano
Editors – Adam Schlagman & Rex Ogle
Executive Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
Welcome friends to our SEVEN HUNDREDTH Daily Discussion! Dassa lotta days… in fact in one month (plus one day) we’ll be at this thing for two solid years!
Now, for these milestone posts I like to take a look at “important” books… important to DC/Comics history, or important to my fandom. They’re usually books that helped embolden my fan-hood… but today, we’re going to go the other direction.
Flashpoint was the event that nearly drove me away. Not so much for the story, but for everything surrounding it. Summer shelves absolutely flooded with tie-ins that wouldn’t mean anything come the Fall (checklist below)… and of course, that whole flushing 70+ years of history down the toilet for short-term gain thing. Honestly, if you were to tell me back in the Fall of 2011 that I’d still be this invested in DC Comics in 2018… I doubt I’d believe it.
Now, I haven’t re-read this since the very day it came out. I still remember where I was… I was working on-the-road for a windshield repair company, and I was sitting in a dirt driveway up in New River, Arizona waiting for a customer to come home.
I was really excited to see what this was all about… gotta remember, we didn’t have all the information on The New-52! yet. All we knew for sure was “new #1’s”… and that things were going to be different coming out the other end.
Well… they say time heals all wounds, so let’s peel off the cast and see if we got any scars after a half-decade.
We open, and if it wasn’t already clear from the title and cover… this is a Flash story. We get a quick and dirty on Barry’s childhood, his relationship with his mother… her murder, and his chemical-n-lightning bath. From there, we get an even quicker and dirtier look at his adulthood… his marriage to Iris, and the formation of the Flash family (including one of the few times we see Wally’s daughter in her Impulse duds).
We pop into the present, as Barry is shaken awake at the precinct. Turns out Miss Alchemy is on the loose… and Central City’s greatest hero, Citizen Cold is on the case. Wait, what? If you think we’re confused… just look at Barry. He offers that Captain Cold is a member of the Rogues… a group that, well… nobody’s heard of.
Our man rushes off to check what’s going on… and finds that he’s not moving as quick nor as gracefully than he’s accustomed. He trips, falling down a flight of stairs… landing at the feet of, his mother?!
After a reunion scene, which I’m sure is supposed to be far more touching and emotional than it appears, Barry reveals to his mother that he is the Flash. She… never hoid’ve him. Other things Nora has no clue about… the Justice League and Super-Man. She does know Batman though… because, c’mon… you think Batman’s not going to be front and center during a DC Comics event?! Don’t be re-deek-u-los.
Sticking with Batman for a moment, we catch him “rooftop chasing” a colorful character named Yo-Yo… an associate of the Joker, who has just kidnapped Judge Dent’s twins. Hmm, I remember a long time ago Harvey Dent kidnapped a pair of twins. Anyhoo, she tells Batman that the kids are likely already dead… and so, he tosses her off the edge of the building!
Lucky for her, she lands in Cyborg’s waiting arms. Batman didn’t appear to know he was there though… so, it’s quite likely he was planning for her to die.
Now Vic is there because “they” need Batman’s help. It’s here that we meet hologram versions of all the heavy-hitters of the Flashpoint Universe.
Back with Barry, he decides to pop in on Iris before heading to dinner with his mother. Nora isn’t familiar with any “Iris”, and asks if it’s some new friend of his. Inside the offices of the Central City Citizen, we see that Iris has already got a man. Barry ain’t tryin’ to hear that, see… so he runs back outside… just as ol’ Nora is briefly greeted by a familiar-looking yellow-and-red blur. Barry asks if he can borrow his mother’s car… because he’s gotta git.
Back in Gotham, the “heroes” of the Flashpoint Universe continue their hologram-conference… discussing how they might work together to fight off the warring Amazons and Atlanteans. It’s here that we learn that Aquaman and Wonder Woman aren’t all that friendly in the here-and-now. Oh yeah, also… Western Europe isn’t a “thing” anymore. Well, that’s not entirely true… it’s just not a thing above sea-level anymore.
Now the Flashpointers are a rag-tag bunch of characters… and don’t seem to get along all that well. They understand the threat before them… but still don’t entirely trust one another to do the right thing. Rac Shade’s Secret Seven put it to a vote… and agree to throw in.
Then the Batson Clan decide to defer to Captain Thunder. He appears, wearing a scarred (at the hands of Wonder Woman) face… and so, he’s down to throw down on Diana.
Batman, however, still isn’t convinced. He informs Cyborg of his chances before splitting. The holograms are rightfully annoyed… and Vic is left all by his lonesome.
We rejoin Barry as he’s entering Gotham City. He heads directly to Wayne Manor… finding it in complete disrepair. He makes his way passed the grandfather clock and into the Batcave… which is also comparably desolate.
It’s not long before Barry finds himself jumped by Batman. He tries to talk him down by referring to him as “Bruce”… which, doesn’t really work all that well. Batman informs our man that Bruce is dead.
It’s now that Barry realizes he’s talking to a different Wayne altogether… Bruce’s father Thomas.
Well, well, well… ya know what? I really dug this! Without all of The New-52! baggage (and my own sour grapes), this was an awesome way to introduce us to this crazy Flashpoint Universe and short-term status quo.
For an event… this is a really interesting study. This feels not entirely unlike Marvel’s House of M from the mid-2000’s. While nothing will ever convince me that The New-52! was the “plan all along”, I don’t doubt for a second that Flashpoint was always going to “shake up the status quo”. House of M ended with “No More Mutants”, which changed the Marvel landscape for years… I’m sure Flashpoint would have had a similar result before The New-52! edict came down from on high.
The mystery here is very well crafted… and manages to touch on some very uncomfortable situations for Barry. Let’s start with his loss of speed. His ability to run is second nature… now, gone. Then… he reunites with his mother. It’s… uneasy. I mean, sure he’s happy to see her… but he knows that something’s not right. It’s not supposed to be this way. Then… Iris. She’s no longer his wife… and, in fact, never was! It’s kinda Twilight Zone-light… however, if you’re a reader with any history with Barry… this is quite riveting!
The Flashpoint “heroes”… I can take or leave. Some of the redesigns and reimaginings are cool, but it feels kind of like an afterthought. Just filling space… and facilitating the skatey-eight hundred disposable miniseries that spun out this Summer (again, checklist below).
I dug Cyborg taking the lead here, though. From all of the New-52! promotional images, we knew that Vic was going to be thrust into the spotlight as a member of the Justice League… replacing Martian Manhunter as a founder, even! I didn’t see any problem giving him a bit of a “shine” here… and though he’ll always be a Titan to me, I’ve grown to accept Vic in his new role.
The Thomas Wayne reveal at the end… I don’t remember if this was much of a shock back in the day. I’m struggling to remember how much of this was spoiled for us in solicits… or by the comics “press” clawing and climbing over one another to “break” things first. I always thought it would have been neat to end this with Thomas actually meeting the “real” Batman… and having a touching reunion with him… only to have it later revealed that he’d actually met Dick Grayson (who was also Batman at the time). I think that could’ve been an interesting vein to tap.
Now, as a simple status-quo shake-up (as I’m 99% sure it was originally intended to be), I would have had no problems with this event. I think we comics fans get a bad rap… creators and editorial like to razz us about “demanding change” all the while “resisting” the changes they make. I’d like ya to look back on the last thirty-plus years of comics history… and think about just how often things change. There really is no status quo anymore… and there hasn’t been one in ages.
I swear Marvel has been using cut-and-paste press releases for well over a decade. “Shake the Universe to it’s foundations” “everything you knew was wrong” “threatening to break the internet in half” “hero versus hero” “shocking new direction”. It’s all the same stuff… disguised as change… sort of as a shield, so they can blame the fans for “refusing to accept” when it all goes to hell. Which it does, year after year.
That’s not entirely fair to Marvel though… at least they didn’t toss their entire history into the dumpster for short-term gain and brief “mainstream” exposure. I grew up a Marvel kid… so, I knew there’d always be a “home” for me in comics. There would always be X-Men books worth checking out. Boy, if I knew then what I know now… yikes. Seriously though, it was Marvel that kept me coming back to the shop week after week post-Flashpoint. If not for them, I’d almost certainly have given up.
Now… if the Marvel of today was around when DC did The New-52!… I can safely say that I probably would have walked away from comics altogether. Right now, for the first time in thirty years I have zero Marvel books on my pull-list… and back in the Fall of 2011, I went from picking up just about every DC release to… maybe four books. Yeah, I think I’d have probably fallen off altogether.
Reggie and I discussed the Summer of 2011 at length during a “Real Comics History” bit earlier this year (above)… and, I kvetched about all the DC betrayal… which wasn’t entirely focused on loss of the lore. I was also annoyed by the amount of money I had spent during 2010-2011… on books with Brightest Day emblazoned across the top. We were promised that this was all headed somewhere… and, it just kinda fizzled out. Of course, I bought every single issue of every single tie-in off the rack… at full price… but, whattayagonnado?
Also, I was suspicious about the timing of the deluge of tie-ins. Unlike when DC ran Convergence in 2015, back in 2011 the tie-ins were released alongside the already running (limping) ongoing titles. I have a sneaking suspicion this was done to tank sales of the ongoings… to make the sales of The New-52! launches look even more impressive. That’s just me though… and doesn’t really affect all that much.
So… is Flashpoint worth reading? Sure. It’s a good story, with fantastic art. Would I still recommend it if Rebirth never happened? Who’s to say? For what it is… I’d say it’s worth at least a flip-through. It’s been collected and is available digitally. Also available digitally FOR FREE is the Flashpoint Companion. I understand there’s also been an animated feature based on this… which I cannot really speak to, but if that’s you’re thing… you might just dig it!
Now… for my usual sappy milestone thank you’s. A lot of stuff can happen in 700 days. Since starting this humble blog, I’ve finished college… had a house built… I wouldn’t have bet that I’d make it seven days straight, much less seven-hundred.
It’s because of the friendships I’ve made in the comics fan community that I keep doing this… and have been afforded the opportunity to expand my reach via podcasting, and contributing on other sites that will have me. I won’t lie, there are times where it feels like a self-imposed chore… but, I’m very happy that I’ve kept at it.
As always, I’m hesitant to “name names” because I’m afraid I’ll leave somebody out. If you’re reading this far… you’re on the list! If you’ve given me a follow, a read, a share… or reached out to say “hey”, I humbly and sincerely thank you. I don’t do this for money, or “cred”… I do this because I genuinely love sharing comics… and stories of my comics fandom. It’s in sharing our fandom that we get the most out of these longboxes. Now, I can’t lie… there are times it feels like I’m just talking to myself… but, I suppose there are worse fates.
I think I’ve gone on long enough… and have greedily taken several minutes of your day that you’ll never get back. So, I’ll wrap it up here… with one final THANK YOU.