Thursday, September 1, 2011

Flashpoint #5 (***spoilers***)

Well, here it final monthly comic book. It is Flashpoint #5 (of 5), the last issue of the big summer event mini series and the stepping stone to the new relaunch of DC Comics (which began this week with Justice League #1).

Be warned: this post will have spoilers galore for the final issue as well as major personal opinion. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Flashpoint #5 (of 5)

So, a quick recap of how we got here. At the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen (the Flash) was killed saving the multiverse. Universes merged to a single continuity. That was 1986. At the end of Final Crisis, Barry returned to life and the universe. That was 2008. At the end of Brightest Day, his old foe Eoward Thawne (Professor Zoom) was brought back to life. That was 2011. Zoom vowed to destroy his old foe and went back in time to kill Barry's mother. We saw this in the most recent Flash title and the Flashpoint: Reverse Flash one-shot.

In Flashpoint #1, Barry wakes up in a very different world. There is no Superman. The man behind Batman's cowl is not someone he ever knew. Wonder Woman's people are warring with Aquaman's kingdom. Hal Jordan is just a pilot. The world is going to hell in a hand basket. Barry allies with Batman, Cyborg and more to try to make things right. At the end of issue 4, Zoom shows up. Finally, we think, we'll find out what Zoom did to alter this world.

Open this issue only to find out that Zoom didn't do it. Yup, the villain wasn't the villain this time. Turns out Barry went back in time, saved his mother from being killed and basically altered the timeline.

Hold it! Really? Really?!?

By saving his mother, Barry causes Superman's rocket to not land in Smallville, the bullets meant to kill Bruce Wayne's parents instead kil him, and turns Aquaman and Wonder Woman into war mongers. Oh, yeah, and somehow it also deprives Jay Garrick from getting super-speed.

Sorry, I don't buy it. Even for "comic book logic", that is one hell of a stretch. Sure, it sets Barry up for tragedy, sure it sets up the final sacrifice and goodbye scene with his mother before he goes to make things right, but come on! That's way too much of a karma backlash. Who knew the Speed Force and universe could be so cruel?

So Barry is shocked, angry and a bit off his game. Batman buys him time but not much. Zoom is finally going to win. You can see Zoom believes that as he pummels Barry. But, as I said before, karma is a bitch! And Batman does what he has to do, to insure he saves his own son. We get a few more pages of violent battling until Wayne tells Barry what he must do - fix it all.

Barry makes the ultimate personal sacrifice - one life for millions. It is the only thing a true hero would do, and for that I applaud Geoff Johns.

But that act also allows DC to remake the entire line - for a mysterious figure tells Barry that time is splintered, wrong and has been so for a long time. He supposedly helps her to remake time, altering histories and changing the continuity that we've all known since 1986. For me, it was another cheap route to go to set up their relaunch stance.

The final scene, set in the current time of the new universe, is between Barry and Bruce. Bruce points out that Barry has been given a gift because he can remember the time with his mother that he now no longer had. Barry gives Bruce a gift too, setting up some emotional pages that are told expertly through Andy Kubert's art. This was great.

So, it ends and it begins.

But for me, it just ends. In my eyes, I can skip the spread where the universe got remade. I'll just pretend that everything went back to how it was, how I knew it was, and "they lived happily ever after". Yes, Barry made Bruce happy with that letter - that works. But altering everything else, I don't have a need for it.

Goodbye, DC Universe. Thank you for all the great tales.

Oh, Justice League #1 came out this week too - part of the relaunch. The idea is to tell the new origin of the League. I did not get it, but from what I have read it was pretty light on story. Mostly Batman and Green Lantern mixing it up, Victor Stone is not yet Cyborg, and Superman is pretty cranky.

So glad I passed and got off the train at the final Flashpoint stop.


Martin Gray said...

Very enjoyable review. I took it that it wasn't Barry saving his mother that caused a butterfly effect, but that the explosion of positive-meets-negative Speed Force energy changed all sorts of things, Yes, it's still daft but I think the comic book internal logic is OK.

Are you realy giving up on the comics, having slept on it?

russw said...

Good bye DCU is right... BTW you should start checking out the trades of the Bendis run on Daredevil. Amazing stuff

Martin Maenza said...

Martin, ah - the ripple effect of the speed forces colliding. That makes a tad more sense. Wish the book would have explained better.

And, yes, permanently giving up on monthly floppies. Last trip to shop was yesterday. I will look to your blog to see what is happening. :)