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Surprisingly Slow

July 31, 2011

So, what with both the big events going on, I thought I’d take a look at Flashpoint #3, the midway point in DC’s path to the DCnU. Thus far, Barry Allen, the Flash, has woken up in a world radically different from the one he knows, one in which Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war, and their conflict has decimated Europe. Most superheroes are completely different or absent, and Cyborg, the United States of America’s #1 hero, is trying to rally the world’s heroes together to stop the war. However, he was counting on Batman to help, and Batman’s not interested. After discovering that he doesn’t have his superspeed, he isn’t married to Iris West, and his mother is still alive, Barry went to find Batman and discovered that this Batman is Bruce Wayne’s father, Thomas Wayne. As he realized that this is his own timeline, altered, rather than another world, he convinced Wayne that his son is alive in the original timeline and to help him restore things, starting with his speed. However, that went badly when the lightning bolt just burned him alive. In the current issue, he recovers after Wayne bandaged him up. He convinces Wayne to let him try again as his memories continue to change. This time, he’s successful, and he gets back into his familiar colors. In New Themyscira, a.k.a. what used to be Great Britain, Lois Lane manages to finally meet up with the Resistance, even after Steve Trevor’s death in the previous issue. Barry decides to gather together the good old Justice League. Wayne tells Cyborg he’ll help stop the Atlanteans and the Amazons, but they have to do it this way, asking for help finding Superman. They find him emaciated and confused in some sort of lab/holding cell underneath New Metropolis, where the military has been experimenting on him since they found him in his rocket, which had crashed in Metropolis years ago and killed thousands. When they flee from the military, Superman deserts them, and Flash, Batman, and Cyborg find themselves at the ends of many gun barrels.

I have to admit, for what is essentially an Elseworlds story, this one has me rather interested. Geoff Johns is doing a superb job tying in Barry’s mission with the world’s inherent issues, and he’s making all of the characters very compelling. Even Barry’s got more color than usual because of how his mother is alive and Iris is with another man. Thomas Wayne’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his son also provides excellent material. The main problem, however, is that there’s only two more issues, and the team isn’t even together yet. Johns’ biggest mistake was that he’s taken too long introducing all the characters and concepts. After all, we know they still have to gather Hal Jordan before heading to Europe, as they’re obviously supposed to be the new Justice League, with Cyborg replacing Martian Manhunter, as a link to the DCnU. How is he going to get the team together, wrap up the war, face the team against Professor Zoom, and make the timeline change again to the DCnU all in two issues? It’s a rather daunting task that would have been more easily accomplished had Johns simply given himself two more issues to do it in or had cut down on the exposition and gotten things started faster. It’s all exciting and interesting, but that is a rather big issue that’s really hurting this series more than anything else.

The biggest props go to Andy Kubert, who’s drawing the crap out of this book. Kubert was probably the first artist in comic books whose work I really grew to know and like, and he’s doing even better here than anything he’s ever done before. All of the characters are just so crisp and clean, and he does a great job with the lightning effects when Flash is running. Even more exciting is the fact that he can actually differentiate a bit between characters’ faces with different nose types and jawlines, something that most comic book artists artists really struggle with. Characters often all look the same aside from costumes and hair color, so it’s nice to see a veteran artist really make the extra effort.

Absolutely spot-on characterization and superb art. What more could you ask for? Well, again, just a faster-paced story. These last two issues are going to have to move along at breakneck pace, or else I don’t see how Johns will fit all these plot threads in. It’s almost too bad that this world will be gone soon, as I wouldn’t mind Johns doing some more work with it. It’s also too bad that Johns couldn’t write the Flash this well in his own title. At any rate, a lot of these elements will exist in the DCnU, so it’s not all fruitless. Let’s just hope Johns can pick up the pace.

Story: 7.2      Art: 9.6      Dialogue: 9.3      Overall: 7.6

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