Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flashpoint by Numbers

I have a habit of reading a comic or two before leaving the comic shop's parking lot; I've done it for years, picking the comics I'm most excited about to read right away. Today was a little bit different, since I didn't go straight for Amazing Spider-Man or Superman, but instead for Flash and Flashpoint. Due to a shipping snafu, my shop didn't get Flash #11 until today, so I burned through the last two issues of that series before reading through the first issue of Flashpoint.

And when I was done, the words that popped into my head were "bog-standard."

I'll admit, some of the hype surrounding Flashpoint was intriguing, and I'm usually up for a good alternate reality tale. But boy, this sure reads like it was basically written on autopilot. I guess I was expecting a serious twist, and I suppose the reveal at the end was supposed to be that? But then, a very similar twist was used in "JLA: Earth 2," and I want to say I've seen it elsewhere as well.

But other than that, there just doesn't feel like any hook here. Despite some moderate development back in Flash #11, Barry Allen is still the dullest man alive, which makes him a really bland focal character. In fact, this really just feels like "Flash" #13, and the next step in Prof. Zoom's nefarious scheme. It's Barry Allen's version of the animated Batman episode "Perchance to Dream," except there's not another Flash running around in his place.

But there are an awful lot of superheroes. And that seems like it might be a fatal flaw in both the execution and Professor Zoom's plan. Having so many heroes--even so many familiar faces, like Cyborg and Billy Batson--makes the stakes feel a lot smaller here. This is a world where everything is changed--slightly! And I find it hard to get worked up over that. This isn't a world where evil has triumphed and good is relegated to resistance cells (like Days of Future Past or Age of Apocalypse or Rock of Ages), this isn't a world where black is white and up is down and everything you know is wrong (Earth 2, etc.), this is a world where the status quo is basically the same, but some of the names have changed. Nothing about this feels dramatic or drastic; it feels like an Elseworlds that I otherwise would have skipped. It carries about the same "things are totally different" weight as Earth-D from that Legends of the DCU special, where all the heroes were just a little more multicultural.

I do like the return of Captain Thunder, even if it's as a riff on both He-Man and Captain Planet. I guess He-Man's a riff on Captain Marvel to begin with, so it all works out.

I suppose the biggest twist left is that we'll learn how Barry caused all this himself by going back in time and saving his mother's life, but I'm having a tough time bringing myself to care enough to get there. Without some electrifying hook in this first issue, I think I'm going to stick with my original plan of checking out the series that look interesting (Lois Lane, Project Superman, maybe Secret Seven) and leaving everything else--including the main book.

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