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Page-by-page with Flashpoint #1

It’s time the other Big Summer Event got the Burgas Treatment! (Doesn’t that sound like some horrible medieval process by which, I don’t know, doctors extracted a spleen from the king or something?)

Ridin' the lightning!

The last time I did this, some people got bent out of shape a bit because they didn’t think it was a good review. I didn’t make it very clear in that post that I had already “reviewed” it and that post wasn’t supposed to be a review – I expressed my opinion about certain things, but I was trying more to examine how Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen and Laura Martin created the comic rather than whether they did it well or not. The same thing applies here. I am not going to “review” Flashpoint #1, at least not in a traditional way. I will offer my opinion about certain elements of the comic, but that’s not the main theme of this post. Much like the post I did about Fear Itself, I want to look at how the creators construct this comic and what tricks they use to do so. I just wanted to make that clear in case anyone lets me know this isn’t a good review. I know it isn’t. It’s not supposed to be. But there are plenty of SPOILERS, so please don’t read this if you plan on reading the comic. I can’t warn you any more clearly!

This Event Book is a bit different than Fear Itself in that it’s set in an alternate universe, so it’s not progressing from any existing storylines (although some recent issues of Flash have been advertised as leading up to the event, but I don’t know how much groundwork they lay). Like Fear Itself, I’m treating this Event as something a person who doesn’t read the core titles involved should be able to delve into. I don’t read Thor and I don’t read Flash, but as a fairly broad-based comic book reader, I ought to be able to get into the two Summer Events, oughtn’t I? So what’s the baseline knowledge a reader should have when it comes to Flashpoint?

DC, I think, has more iconic characters than Marvel – meaning characters the general public would be familiar with, even if in a vague way. There’s Superman and Batman, of course. I would argue that Wonder Woman and Aquaman are the next two most iconic characters, even if neither of them have ever had much success within the comics world. Even if the general public doesn’t know the Flash, his powers are fairly easy to comprehend. Other than that, the only other thing that I think a reader needs to know is Batman’s origin. As this is set in an alternate world, the status quo of the DC Universe need not concern us.

Interestingly enough, while the premise of Fear Itself was somewhat vague before the series launched, the premise for Flashpoint is even more vague. DC has been very brief with their descriptions, and all we’re really getting is that the world is somehow screwed up and the superheroes have to save the day. Wow, that sounds specific. So going in, all we really know about the series is “DC heroes in an alternate universe.” DC is counting on people to pick it up based on three things: A) People really like seeing their heroes in alternate universes; B) People really like Geoff Johns; C) People really like Andy Kubert. Hell, it worked on me, so who am I to question their marketing strategy?

So, Flashpoint #1, by Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, Alex Sinclair, and Nick J. Napolitano. What’s up with this sucker? Writing first, then art, just like last time, okay?

Pages 1-5: We begin with a narration caption, because this is a DC comic. It’s one of those boxes made to look like someone is writing in a diary, except the diary is a legal pad because the paper is yellow and has the two red lines creating a margin perpendicular to the lines on which people write. We don’t know who is “writing” these recollections, but they’re about Barry Allen. The first thought of the book, which is split into two caption boxes, one at the top of the page and one at the bottom, is: “There’s only one thing I know about life. I know some things happen by chance.” This is a fairly typical device in fiction – using words that refer to one thing (in this case, the second statement is juxtaposed with a panel of Barry Allen gaining his Flash powers via lightning bolt, a totally chance occurrence) but also refer to something greater – perhaps the fact that Barry is now in an alternate universe, as we’ll see. On the first page, young Barry Allen and his mother, Nora, are stranded on the side of the road when their car breaks down. Of course it’s raining, and of course no one is stopping to help them. Barry tells his mom that if he were driving by, he’d stop to help her, and she tells him that she knows he would, but it doesn’t matter because she’s the only one who can get the “lemon” started anyway (the car looks like a Pacer). We also see that his mother is dead, her murder is unsolved, and that Barry was struck by lightning, which we infer turned him into the Flash (as we see on page 2).

On pages 2-5 we see the Flash running through the city and some of the events of his past. The narration tells us that Barry was once haunted by his past, but when he became the Flash he left the “ghosts” behind. He got married to Iris West and joined up with a bunch of other speedsters (here we see a picture of him with the latest Impulse, Iris; Wally West; Jesse Quick … I assume; Max Mercury; Jay Garrick; and Speedy Multicultural Lass; none of whom appear in this comic again), and finally, on pages 4-5, we get a splash page of Barry running with a bunch of other DC heroes. Basically, this is simply a brief biographical sketch of Barry in the regular DCU. The narrative captions get a bit darker, as the writer tells us he’s not the hero of this story (which usually means he will be) and that he’s been corrupted by “unbearable pain” and he has “too much blood on his hands to be called good.” The writer is a man with “nothing left to live for” until the day he met Jesus – whoops, I mean, the Flash.

So who is Speedy Multicultural Lass, anyway?

The interesting thing about this opening is how much Geoff Johns manipulates the audience (note, I’m not saying this is a bad thing; good artists manipulate audiences constantly). All comic book writers, I would imagine, have characters they really like, and Barry Allen seems to be one of those for Geoff Johns (not necessarily the Flash, mind you, but Barry Allen). So he provides this oddly messianic version of Barry’s “origin.” Barry’s first words are “Mom, if it was me I’d stop and help.” His mother already knows about her son’s nature, as she tells him she knows he would. The rain and the cruel nature of the passing drivers make this an even more mawkish scene. What’s fascinating is that Nora Allen says she’s the only one who can make the car run. That’s certainly plausible, but Barry’s father is still alive at this point, and while I wouldn’t want to be stereotypically chauvinistic, I find it interesting that she’s the mechanic in the family. I can relate, because my wife is much more mechanically inclined than I am, but usually in simple Rockwellian comics like those that Barry Allen tends to inhabit, the parents of characters, especially, fit into fairly standard gender roles, unless one is dead. It seems like Johns is not-so-subtly introducing a resolved but non-violent Oedipal conflict – Barry’s father is still alive at this point, but he’s somewhat neutered, and Barry is gazing longingly at his mother as she indulges in a traditionally masculine endeavor. Johns is simply setting up the scene later when Barry is reunited with his mother in the alternate universe, but it’s fascinating how much iconography and symbolism is on just this first page.

He will never rest until he solves the mystery!

Pages 6-7: This is a strange way for Johns to get into the main part of the story. A man named Forrest, whom Barry knows, wakes him up when he falls asleep on his desk. I very much doubt that Johns would go with the “This is all a dream” mode of storytelling, but the way this particular issue is structured, it’s hard to avoid. Are we supposed to believe that this is the “real” world and Barry has been dreaming his adventures? Given that the DCU exists, that can’t be what Johns is going for. The only answer left is that Barry is dreaming this world, which won’t be the solution because I refuse to believe that Johns would do that. Barry himself, while wondering why he’s not the Flash anymore, seems to accept this world rather readily, at least in this issue. So this is a strange way to begin the basic plot.

Anyway, Forrest exposits that they’ve been pulling 18-hour shifts to solve “Miss Alchemy’s” murder, even though Barry doesn’t know who that is. His boss, a man named Singh (who’s apparently a very westernized Sikh), storms in ranting that they know who killed Miss Alchemy, and all they need is evidence that it was “Citizen Cold,” whom Barry thinks is Captain Cold of the Rogues. Of course, nobody knows who that is. Just then a call comes in that Citizen Cold and the Pied Piper are engaged in a shoot-out, but Singh says they can’t go after Cold until they have evidence, and so he turns to Barry … who’s not there. He, of course, has leapt into action as the Flash, but as he reaches the steps, he realizes he’s not wearing his ring and he trips and falls down the staircase. Oh dear.

This is a somewhat minor item about the Flash that a non-Flash reader might not know, that Barry keeps his Flash costume in a ring on his finger (how it expands and contracts I will leave to the Flash aficianados in our midst). So the fact that he doesn’t have a ring on might be less dramatic if you have no idea what he’s talking about. Suffice it to say, he’s not the Flash.

Hey, where'd it go?

Pages 8-11: When he reaches the bottom of the steps, someone says his name. He looks up and sees his elderly mother standing over him. He, of course, is rather surprised to see her, as he thought she was dead. He wonders what she’s doing there and she tells him it’s her birthday and he promised to take her out for dinner. For some reason, the fact that it’s her birthday feels significant, as does the entire presence of Barry’s mother in this story. I don’t know if Johns will do anything with it, but we’ll see. She also makes reference to the fact that she’s always on time, an Easter egg referencing Barry’s predilection for tardiness, due to the fact that he’s often out fighting crime instead of showing up for dates with Iris. We get an emotional scene in which Barry hugs his mother, but when they leave the police station, Barry starts questioning his mother. She tells him that Barry’s dad died of a heart attack three years ago, and she’s never heard of the Flash or the Justice League or Superman. She has, however, heard of Batman. Interesting …

Pages 12-13: Johns introduces the Batman of this alternate world. I’ll get to the art later, and this double-page splash is pretty much all art. Moving on!

Pages 14-19: Batman is chasing a villain called Yo-Yo across the roof of a Wayne Casino. She is, apparently, a henchman of the Joker, and perhaps fills the Harley Quinn role for that universe. Yes, there is a Joker in this other world. He wants to know where the Joker is, and she gives him a song and dance about the Joker being in all of us, because we’re all a bit crazy. Then she says it’s on the tip of her tongue, so he retorts, “Then let’s get it off” while brandishing a nasty little blade – this Batman isn’t afraid to get really violent, apparently. He cuts the lens of her cool wraparound sunglasses as he exposits, “Judge Dent’s twins were kidnapped last night. I know the Joker has them. Where are they?!” She tells him that it’s too late, because they’re probably already dead. He replies, “Then so are you” and tosses her off the roof. Frank Miller wants his royalty check!

She doesn’t die, however, because out of nowhere, Cyborg catches her. We know it’s Cyborg because she calls him Cyborg. After he puts her down for the cops to pick up, he leaps, from a standing position, straight up the side of the building and lands extremely softly on the edge of the roof. Batman is at least ten floors up (and probably more like 15), yet Cyborg makes the leap easily. Wow. Batman tells him he should have let her hit the ground, which Cyborg ignores. He tells Batman that he always chases the bad guys to the ledge of this particular alley, a reference to the fact that it’s where his family died. Batman claims she slipped, and Cyborg points out that “a lot of them slip,” but then insists he’s not there to judge Batman, but to ask for his help. When Batman asks who needs it, Cyborg reveals a hologram of a bunch of characters from this DCU, ones who will star in various spin-off mini-series over the next few months. Here they are:

The six kids apparently each possess one of the SHAZAM powers that were given exclusively to Billy Batson in the regular DCU. The purple-skinned dude is Abin Sur, the Green Lantern who gave his ring to Hal Jordan when he died, so Hal Jordan is obviously not the GL of Earth. The dude with the stitched-up hood is named Farooq, also known as Blackout. He’s standing next to a dude in green with a mask covering the lower half of his face. This is the Piper, who was named as having a gun battle with Citizen Cold, seemingly five minutes before (although Barry’s reunion with his mother might not be happening at the exact same time as this, even though Johns uses her narration as a transition from Barry to Gotham). The babe whose boobs (or, as my Polish grandmother used to call them, “bubs”) are hanging out is the Enchantress. Seriously, how do those things stay in? In the back is Shade, the Changing Man, who’s next to this Earth’s version of Wesley Dodds – he gets only one speaking panel and we don’t know if he’s even called Sandman or if it’s Wesley Dodds, but let’s go with it. In front of him stands the Outsider. Citizen Cold stands behind the Outsider’s left shoulder, and the girl on the far right is Element Woman, a young lady named Emily Sung (she doesn’t look even vaguely Asian, though – maybe it’s her married name?). Batman looks unimpressed to see everyone.

Defying gravity and fighting evil!

Pages 20-21: Barry and his mother are standing in front of the offices of the newspaper the Central City Citizen, and Barry says he needs to talk to Iris, who of course his mother doesn’t know. Barry still hasn’t gotten the hint, so he goes into the offices anyway. Of course, she’s not “Iris Allen” but Iris West, and as Barry’s trying to find her at the receptionist’s desk, she comes strolling out with an editor, who’s telling her the assignment she wants is too dangerous. Johns gives us some information about this world – Iris says that Lois Lane is already behind enemy lines and someone from the Citizen needs to tell the world what’s happening in Europe. Before Barry can call out to her, someone named John gets her attention, tells her that what she’s trying to do is crazy, makes a reference to her “nephew” (which means we’ll see Wally at some point, I suppose), and starts macking on her, much to Barry’s surprise and dismay. Down on the street, Nora Allen hears a voice that says, “How nice to see you alive and well, Mrs. Allen,” but she doesn’t see anyone. We do, however – a blurry flash of yellow and red that shows the presence of Professor Zoom. This is the only place in the comic that someone who isn’t familiar with the regular Flash series might be confused. Obviously, as this is a serialized story, we’ll find out more about this mysterious voice and blur later, but Johns obviously wants us to get immediately that it’s Professor Zoom, as that will make readers say, “Oh, he’s behind it somehow!!!!” and not just assume Barry’s dreaming. Even if you’re not familiar with Professor Zoom, it’s obvious something weird is going on here and it’s someone who knows that Barry’s mother ought to be dead. When Barry rejoins his mother, he asks to borrow her car. To the Old-Woman-Mobile!

Pages 22-29: We’re back on the roof of Wayne Casino, and it’s time for a big-ass info dump regarding this Brave New World we’re in. One of the SHAZAM kids drops a clue when he says that Batman is “older than [he] thought.” Remember that, good readers! Cyborg explains to Batman (but really to the readers) that Atlantis sank Western Europe into the ocean while the Amazons took over the United Kingdom and both Aquaman and Wonder Woman want to rule the world. Cyborg needs allies to stop them, and he asks Batman and the holograms (soon to be performing their greatest hits from the ’60s at a venue near you!) if they’ll help. The first person to step up is Element Woman, who doesn’t seem like she’s all there. Citizen Cold points out that if any man steps foot in Britain, the Amazons will castrate them. The Piper owes Cyborg for repairing his shattered vocal chords, vocal chords that Citizen Cold shattered, which kind of makes this meeting awkward. The Piper repeats the earlier contention that Cold isn’t the do-gooder he appears to be. Farooq, the kid with the black mask, tells Cyborg that he shouldn’t ask him to fight alongside the Outsider, because the Outsider has been hunting him for months. The Outsider exposits that Blackout is the “cleanest and most powerful source of electricity on Earth” and that any country would benefit from plugging him in. The Outsider implies that he’s from India, but I suppose we’ll see. He admits that the war is bad for business, so he’s in. So is Cold. The Sandman says he dreamt about this in the late 1930s, so he’s in. Abin Sur says if it’s jake with the guardians, it’s cool with him. Element Woman chimes in again, prompting Enchantress to tell Shade that Element Woman would volunteer for anything, which allows Johns to introduce Shade’s meta-vest and the fact that he can sense madness. Cyborg asks Shade about the “Secret Seven,” to which he and Enchantress belong, and while Enchantress says no, they take a vote and five invisible people vote, with the “yays” beating the “nays” 4 to 3. The SHAZAM kids vote too, and we learn that Tawny the tiger can’t speak (unlike his DCU counterpart), and his pal is named Pedro. The one names Billy has the courage of Achilles, while Freddy possesses the power of Zeus. BillyFreddy also makes a Star Wars reference, which made me grind my teeth a little bit, because it doesn’t seem pertinent and it would have been interesting if, in this world, Star Wars never got made and nerds everywhere were making references to something really cool, like Manimal. One of the girls in the group is Mary, while the other is named Darla (really?). The boy named Eugene, who has the wisdom of Solomon, says they should ask Captain Thunder, so they say Shazam, turn into the superhero (and the tiger gets a makeover as well), and Thunder says he’s in. Apparently Wonder Woman scarred him up right good, and he wants to return the favor.

Man, get a room!

With everyone in, Cyborg begins to talk about a plan, but Batman wants nothing to do with it. He says that Cyborg doesn’t stand a chance, mainly because once all the “allies” get in a room together (remember, they’re holograms right now), they’ll kill each other. He leaves, and because many of them joined only because Batman was going to be part of the group, Cyborg’s “Justice League” falls apart quickly, leaving him alone on the rooftop. So sad!

Pages 30-34: Barry drives into Gotham City and finds an abandoned Wayne Manor. He enters the Batcave and looks around. He sees the gun that killed the Waynes in a glass case. He sees a portrait of the entire family in happier times. Then the narration that we saw in the beginning comes back, with the lines “The first time I met Barry Allen, I nearly killed him” as Barry turns when a hand is placed on his shoulder. So Batman is our narrator, which is useful to know. Batman flips him over and grabs him, ready to punch him out, while asking him who he is, but Barry says, “Bruce, wait!” Barry tells him who he is and that he knows his real name, but Batman says that Bruce is dead, which is when Barry realizes that Batman is actually Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father. Dum dum DUMMMMMM!!!!!! So ends issue #1.

Oh, the surprising drama!

Okay, now let’s get into Andy Kubert’s art. Sound good?

Cover: Flashpoint #1 features a pretty strong cover, with the Flash running in the foreground and the four principal heroes in the background – Aquaman, Cyborg, Batman, and Wonder Woman. In between we see Gotham City, which I suppose is going to be important in this story. It’s a good mix of kinetic energy (from the Flash) and portentous looming (by the others). Flash’s costume shredding must imply the fact that he has entered an alternate world where he’s not the Flash. I guess?

Pages 1-5: If we return to the slightly messianic bent to the first page, let’s consider the first panel of this comic book. Barry Allen looks lovingly up at his mother, and his eyes are piercingly blue and a tad bit larger than they should be. This ties into the image later of his eyes seeing his dead mother resurrected, and it’s interesting because I doubt if this was conscious by Kubert. Johns has proven throughout his career that he likes nothing better than characters he read about when he was a kid, so his adoration of first Hal Jordan and now Barry Allen isn’t surprising, but I doubt if he explicitly told Kubert to draw Barry with such deep, soulful eyes. In panel 3, a truck driver looks out his window at Nora Allen and her son. For some reason, it appears like he’s smiling. What a dick!

Look into the dewy eyes of the young Barry!

Page 2 is an odd full-page splash. Barry runs along a very narrow creek in a park in the middle of Central City. In the background we see the skyscrapers rising into the sky, while by the creek, an old man sits and fishes (his hat is flying of his head because Barry is causing wind as he runs by) and kids buy ice cream from a vendor. It’s supposed to evoke an idyllic scene from the Silver Age, with its mixture of sleek modernity and nostalgic rural life. Page 3 shows a side view of Barry running, his wedding, and his group of speedsters. The first panel bugs me. Barry’s right leg is raised in the air, bent at the knee and under his torso, with the heel almost touching his ass. His left leg looks almost as if it’s dragging along the ground, because the “speed lines” stretching behind his toe looks unbroken, as if it’s never left the ground. Showing someone running seems to be one of the hardest things to do in comics, and this panel shows why. I very much doubt if Barry’s right leg bends that high when he’s running. It looks very odd.

He's skating!

Pages 4-5 are the big splash page and the credits. Alex Sinclair has been coloring this book strangely so far – the first and third pages are a bit muted and even slightly sepia-toned, which is comic book/movie/television grammar for “taking place in the past,” while the full-page drawing of Barry running on the creek is fully colored. So are pages 4 and 5. After this, of course, the point is moot, but I wonder why he chose that palette for two pages of the first five but not the others. Anyway, this again shows Barry running in the same manner – his right foot almost touching his posterior and his knee bent all the way, and although he’s the speedster, he’s still not in front of Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern (who’s flying, but still). It’s almost as if those three characters are going to be very important in the alternate world of Flashpoint! The other characters are your standard DC roll call: Jon Stewart, Hawkwoman, Firestorm, Hawkman, Mera, Batman, Cyborg, Atom, Superman, Captain Marvel, and J’onn J’onzz. Superman is as big as the Flash and Cyborg, which seems significant.

Pages 6-11: Andy Kubert does weird things with “speed lines” in this comic. I mentioned the way Barry is running, and on page 6, we see a police car pulling away from the station and apparently kicking up some dirt as it peels out … on a paved parking lot. I’ll get back to that. In panel 7, the last one on the page, everyone looks at Barry’s chair when Singh speaks to him, but Barry is already gone, having run off to become the Flash. In his place Kubert draws a burst, in the manner of goofy cartoons:

Who was sitting there, Bugs Bunny?

It’s bizarre because we can see that Barry is gone, and I don’t know if Johns and Kubert don’t trust us to realize that his chair is now empty. It really makes this a sillier comic, and that’s definitely not what Johns and Kubert are going for.

When Barry falls down the stairs, his mother is there for their dinner date. On page 8 we see his eyes again, reflecting his mother, who he believes has returned from the dead. This links back to the opening panel, of course, when his eyes were loving; here they’re shocked. You’ll notice, of course, that Nora has blue eyes as well.

On page 11, we see another police car leave the parking lot. Again, this is a very strange panel. The car roars away, smoke pouring from its rear and what appears to be dirt flying from underneath its tires. I get that there would be a little bit of gravel on the road, but it looks like the car is driving away on a dirt road somewhere in the country rather than on a macadam-paved street in the middle of a city. Kubert wants to show that the car is speeding away, but it seems like a weird way to do it. Kubert does a couple of nice things on this page. When Barry tells Nora he’s the Flash in panel 2, his face is grim, his mouth is tight, and his eyes look almost evil. It’s as if his secret is being forced out of him, which in a way it is. In panel 5, when Nora tells him he’s not making any sense with his superhero talk, Kubert makes her look genuinely fearful for his sanity. That’s pretty cool.

Mama Allen can smell the crazy!

As this is a nitpicky post (some people got on me when I wrote about Fear Itself, saying I was too nitpicky, but that’s kind of the point of these posts), I should point out the bottom panel on page 11. Nora wears a ring on the index finger and her middle finger of her right hand, but not her ring finger. On page 8, we saw that she was wearing a ring on her pinky on her right hand as well. So she has rings on the index, middle, and pinky fingers but not the ring finger. My mother, who is 67 years old, says she doesn’t know anyone who wears rings like that. Maybe my mom is square, but it seems very odd that Kubert would put rings on those fingers of Nora Allen.

Pages 12-19: The double-page splash on pages 12-13 is a pretty nice drawing. We have the ubiquitous blimps that always appear in every alternative world and future and past that has ever existed – if blimps are so cool, why didn’t they take off in this world, I’d like to know. Batman dominates the scene, of course, as he swings in from the left looking down at the rooftop where Yo-Yo is running away from him. He has a smaller bat on his chest over a red circle, a red utility belt, and red eyes. He also doesn’t shave that often, because unshaven men are s-e-x-y! If we accept that this is the exact same time as in the “real” DCU, Thomas Wayne has to be at least 50 years old, right? I mean, Bruce was, say, ten when his parents were killed. If the “real” DCU Batman is around 30, that means it’s been 20 years since that event. Thomas Wayne had to be at least 30 years old when Bruce was killed, right? All I’m saying is, he looks pretty good for a dude who’s at least 50 and probably a bit closer to 55 or 60. Gotham City is a gambler’s paradise, as Wayne Casinos dominate the landscape. In the bottom left, “Green Lantern” is appearing in some show, and I wonder if the “Pur Club” in the bottom middle means we’ll see a version of Selina Kyle in this series.

On page 16, Kubert draws ghost Cyborgs to show how Vic leaps down to catch Yo-Yo. We don’t know where he comes from, so it’s kind of strange to see him flying sideways from the upper right of the panel to bounce off a wall and land on the ground, where he catches Yo-Yo. It doesn’t feel like he would have much momentum that way.

Kubert has some fun with the big hologram display of the reluctant allies on pages 18-19. Everyone looks deadly serious, of course, but Element Woman is looking off to her left, worried. It’s a nice touch because, as we find out, she’s not quite all there. The SHAZAM kids all have a lightning bolt accoutrement – Pedro’s is on his baseball cap, Eugene’s is … somewhere (we can’t see it), Billy’s is pinned to his lapel, Mary has bolt earrings, Darla has one on her shirt, and Freddy has a necklace with a bolt on it. Nice touch by Kubert/Johns. Enchantress doesn’t want to join the team because then she might have to put on a bra.

Pages 20-21: When John presumably plants a kiss on Iris, Kubert shows Barry in extreme close-up on page 21, panel 3. This is a very odd choice. His face isn’t even centered in the panel; it’s slightly off to the right. Kubert draws his eyes very wide and his mouth hanging open slightly, but the pose is lacking a bit in shock or even surprise. First of all, Barry already knows that something is very weird about this world, and if his mother is alive and he’s not the Flash, why would he still be with Iris? I mean, I know he hasn’t processed it yet, and the experience of seeing Iris is the final straw, perhaps, but Kubert, by focusing so much on the face, divorces it from what’s happening in front of him – even the background is an unspecific red. In a fairly straightforward comic, even with some extreme close-ups (like the one at the bottom of this page), this panel looks wildly off. Perhaps if Kubert had gone the full Hitchcock and tilted it or given Barry obnoxious worry lines or if Sinclair had added some truly lurid background coloring, it might have been silly enough to work, but it seems like a really overly dramatic panel, even in a somewhat melodramatic story.

Kubert does a pretty good job with Professor Zoom. The blurriness and otherworldliness of Zoom is indicated by (presumably) colored pencils and no inks, although I can’t be sure. It’s a nice touch.

Spooooky!

Pages 22-29: Cyborg projects two images onto the screen for Batman and the reader to see, detailing the situation in Europe. In the first, we see Aquaman’s hand and his trident, while Paris is flooded and the Eiffel Tower cracks in half. I’m not sure if it would crack; it would probably bend, but cracking is more dramatic. In the second scene, we see Wonder Woman’s hand holding a bloody sword. In the background, Parliament and Big Ben burns, while in the foreground, Amazons kill British soldiers and a tank is on fire. The Amazons are using swords. How were they able to conquer the United Kingdom using medieval weaponry against a modern army? I mean, Hitler couldn’t do it with modern weapons! Did the Amazons have divine help? I wonder if any of the writers of this event will delve into that.

I assume that Napolitano is responsible for the appearance of the word balloons as well as the lettering inside them. Emily Sung’s balloons have little pink bubbles attached to them, which is a weird but nice touch. It fits with her purple hair and also indicates that she’s just a bit off.

Sure, she's nutty, but she has cool word balloons!

On page 25, we see Shade’s meta-vest appear, and Kubert uses the old “one eye squinting and one eye wide open” technique to indicate something is a bit crazy. I first saw this technique in Detective Comics back in the late 1980s, when Norm Breyfogle used it, but it’s fairly common. The vest looks pretty cool, but I’m a bit disappointed that Sinclair didn’t have more fun with the technicolor dreamcoat that Shade wears. Brendan McCarthy’s and Chris Bachalo’s versions were much wilder (whoever was coloring those books back then).

On page 26, Kubert draws Citizen Cold with a stunned expression on his face as he raises his funky New Wave shades and stares at the empty space where the Secret Seven are standing. I’m not sure why he’s so surprised by something like that. Everyone is a hologram, after all, so that kind of manipulation of the field ought to be easy, right? Still, it’s a funny expression.

Is Eugene holding a phone on page 27? Kubert draws it like he’s holding it open to the keyboard, but it could be anything, I suppose – a piece of paper, a tin for mints. In the panel where he tells Darla that they need to ask Captain Thunder, it appears as if he’s texting someone. Is he texting Captain Thunder? That would be weird.

Kubert draws a pretty dramatic Captain Thunder on page 28. He redesigned the Captain Marvel costume slightly, with the lightning bolt off to the left of center and shooting from a gray circle. Tawny looks impressive, with golden armor even encasing his tail and a horned helmet. I like how he also physically transforms into a sabretooth tiger. I’m a bit puzzled about the transformation, though. Like everyone else, Captain Thunder is a hologram, but you’ll note on the bottom of page 27, the storm clouds are very clearly forming in the sky over Gotham. Why would we even see the storm clouds if the SHAZAM kids are not physically at that location? I’m going to chalk this up to a goof by the artist and anyone who was supposed to catch it. No harm, no foul.

The armored sabretooth adds the right touch of wackiness to this panel

Pages 30-34: Barry in the car is a good joke by Johns, and Kubert sells it pretty well, especially the last panel when Barry, so frustrated at his inability to run to Gotham, bangs his head against the steering wheel. It seems like a bit of an unnecessary page, but that’s okay. The Batcave is quite sparse, with none of the decorations that Bruce has put in it – there’s only a couple of tables and a chair, plus the glass case holding the gun and the broken portrait of the Waynes.

The look on Thomas’s face when Barry calls him Bruce is nice. Kubert does a good job showing his surprise that Barry called him that, even though he’s still wearing the mask. On the final page, it shifts back to anger, another nice touch. Who the hell is this guy coming in here talking about my son? Thomas is not amused!

Oh, the pain of memory!

So that’s that. What have we learned? Flashpoint is not quite as ambitious as Fear Itself, as Johns is simply telling an alternate universe story that, as much as DC wants to claim will “matter,” doesn’t really (I can’t believe they’re going to shift too much – how many reboots can DC stand?). That doesn’t mean it’s worse that Fear Itself, however – as far as first issues go, it’s slightly better. Johns gets right to the point, reveals the main plot points of the mini-series and the many, many spin-offs, and ends the book in a much more dramatic fashion than its Marvel counterpart. Whether the entire mini-series will be better is to be determined, but as far as first issues go, Flashpoint has a bit more going for it than Fear Itself. Perhaps the fact that it’s only five issues helps, too. It’s still very much an introduction to the Event, but it feels a bit more urgent – the issue is ten pages shorter than Fear Itself, as well, so maybe that helps.

The story itself is nothing surprising – the same kind of alternate universe stuff we’ve seen for years from both Marvel and DC – heroes are villains, villains are heroes, certain characters are dead! I can’t help thinking that Superman is going to play a huge role in this series, because he’s, you know, Superman. I very much hope that he doesn’t, because why couldn’t some random event have occurred so that his capsule never landed on Earth, instead flying off into the void before it fell into a star somewhere? The fact that Kubert draws him so large on the first splash page feels significant but might not be. I just can’t believe that DC would do a Big Summer Event and not have Superman in it. [Edit: Yes, I forgot about Project: Superman, one of the spin-off mini-series. I've had a lot on my mind. I also am trying not to base my opinions on things that will happen in the future, but this text itself. But I humbly beg your forgiveness for my oversight. If it happens again I will flog myself with rolled-up copies of Wizard magazine.] I think Johns made the right call with Professor Zoom’s presence, because while Fraction lays quite a bit out in the first issue of Fear Itself (I haven’t read issue #2 yet) and I think that works, for a weird alternate universe story, we need some mystery.

Andy Kubert is, in my eyes, a slightly lesser artist than his brother is. Adam seems to have more fluid pencils, with less stocky characters. Andy seems to draw his characters a bit more chunky and clunky, even though he’s a good enough penciler. Andy’s art is more reminiscent of his father’s, actually, but Joe doesn’t draw superheroes so his stocky figures don’t work against him as much. Some of this comic would have looked better drawn by Adam, even though some other parts are better with Andy (the less superhero stuff, in particular). Barry and Nora look real, while the superheroes look too real, if that makes sense. Andy also hasn’t escaped the Nineties as well as Adam has, so his Cyborg, for instance, looks faintly ridiculous in a “Stryfe-meets-Captain Wiggins” kind of way (yeah, I went obscure on your ass – deal with it!). The rest of the characters look pretty good, but let’s take the Outsider, for instance. Kevin Nowlan, who’s drawing the covers of his mini-series, has a finer line and greater sense of fluidity than Kubert does, and his Outsider doesn’t look quite as silly as Kubert’s does. Kubert, however, does a nice job with Batman and Sandman, and his Captain Thunder and Tawny are pretty impressive.

Flashpoint #1 has a pretty cool premise and it’s a pretty good comic book. It’s interesting to compare and contrast the approaches that the two creative teams take toward the Summer Events – Fraction is a bit more concerned with “real-world” issues and is pacing his series a bit more slowly, while Johns is putting the pedal to the medal and not worrying too much about how the general population is reacting to this world (even the newspaper scene doesn’t really count, because the reporters are much more involved with the big events than the rest of the population). Flashpoint #1 and Fear Itself #1 are both very much expository issues, but Johns does it on the fly more, while Fraction has his heroes stand around and talk about it. I’m curious to see how each writer handles the plot going forward.

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? I doubt if I’ll do this again for a while, mainly because I won’t read the next few issues until they’ve been out for a while. Maybe I’ll do this again for the final issue of each mini-series. That might be keen!

46 Comments

I just want to add, in regards to the Captain Thunder transformation sequence, that I think it could’ve been handled better. The ideal way to do it is to show the kids as a group, have a panel where they can say SHAZAM and get hit by the lightning bolt, and then the reveal panel of Captain Thunder. As it stands, for a few panels, it’s unclear whether they became him, or simply summoned him. (It’s an alternate reality with new rules, he could’ve be a separate entity here.) And it’s not clear that they even say SHAZAM. It’s just there around his head. So maybe it’s really just the sound effect for when he appears. …which would be odd.

“Speedy Multicultural Lass” is XS, Barry’s granddaughter and a member of the reboot Legion.

Speedy Multicultural Lass is XS, a.k.a. Jenni Ognats, Barry’s other grandchild from the future. While Bart is the son of Barry’s son Don, Jenni is the daughter of Barry’s daughter Dawn. Unlike Bart, Jenni’s powers never caused any issues with her metabolism, and so instead of going back to the 20th/21st century, she stayed in the 30th/31st century and joined the Legion of Superheroes.

Much of the concept for this reminds me of TRINITY.

And Tawny in it reminds me of what happens to Prince Adam’s pet Cringer when He-Man appears: it’s the mighty Battle-Cat!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Cat

Dangit, if there’s going to be a Captain Thunder showing up, I want to see good ol’ Willie Fawcett from Superman #276

I am impressed that Sandman has been included!
Not enough to pick this up, but wow!, Wesley Dodds!

Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t have said that, because if the old Captain Thunder from Earth-276 DID show up in a Geoff Johns crossover, he’d probably be eviscerating Super Turtle with the severed tibia of Binky Biggs.

Michael Painter

May 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm

That comment about XS being Speedy Multicultural Lass was very offensive to me. Maybe you haven’t read the Flash or Legion in the last 15 years.

I know it’s an alternate universe and everything, but owning a casino seems very out of character for Thomas Wayne to me. Wasn’t his whole deal that he wanted to clean up Gotham?

Hunter Zolomon

May 16, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Barry was missing his wedding ring, not his Flash ring, off of his left ring finger… Clearly you’ve never been married…which would explain why you didn’t understand Barry’s reaction to SEEING HIS WIFE KISS ANOTHER MAN!!!

“I just can’t believe that DC would do a Big Summer Event and not have Superman in it.”

Really??? Have you seen the solicit for July’s third issue??? Or maybe the 3-issue miniseries called “Project Superman”???

Oh and it’s Freddy who says the Star Wars quote…not Billy. For being “nitpicky” you sure do miss the details…

I thought XS’s inclusion in the opening segment seemed a little strange. She’s barely had anything to do with any other speedster for the last decade and a half, but she suddenly pops up in the art that’s being sent out everywhere to let us know about the black speedster? Sounds like a bit of tokenism at work to me.

That being said, I’d be glad to see her in this book. I just don’t expect that I will.

funkygreenjerusalem

May 17, 2011 at 12:20 am

So who is Speedy Multicultural Lass, anyway?

I’m more curious about where Bart is*!
XS was shown to be alive and well last Adventure Comics, where she figured out there was a major problem that could affect the future, and then opted not to tell the Legion, preferring to stay and work on an art piece.
As she’s the survivor of a destroyed reality, you’d think she’d have been more concerned.

*He was alive and well in Flash #12, and as this is a pic of the regular DCU, it’s odd he’s not there.
(Odd, if not troubling, as this is all leading to a shake up in September).
All anyone missed by not reading Road To Flashpoint is that Professor Zoom has been messing about with time, having figured out a way to remove Barry, without removing his own existence.
Then there was a big lightning bolt.

Billy also makes a Star Wars reference, which made me grind my teeth a little bit, because it doesn’t seem pertinent and it would have been interesting if, in this world, Star Wars never got made and nerds everywhere were making references to something really cool, like Manimal.

That annoyed me as well.
Really annoyed me – there need’s to be a ban on pop culture references.
That, and the Hogwarts reference, really took me out of that scene.
(Seriously, in a world where the UK has been obliterated by Amazons, JK still wrote Harry Potter? Or has all this happened in the last couple of years?)

Barry in the car is a good joke by Johns, and Kubert sells it pretty well, especially the last panel when Barry, so frustrated at his inability to run to Gotham, bangs his head against the steering wheel. It seems like a bit of an unnecessary page, but that’s okay

I feel stupid, cause I missed that’s what that scene was about.

I’d assumed it was just to show that everyone wants to go to Gotham these days.
I’m an idiot.

I can’t believe they’re going to shift too much – how many reboots can DC stand?

I think it may well be more than we’re expecting – which would be a rather DC thing to do.
(By which I mean underplaying the build up when it’s momentous, after overplaying the build up when it was minor).

funkygreenjerusalem

May 17, 2011 at 12:23 am

I thought XS’s inclusion in the opening segment seemed a little strange. She’s barely had anything to do with any other speedster for the last decade and a half, but she suddenly pops up in the art that’s being sent out everywhere to let us know about the black speedster? Sounds like a bit of tokenism at work to me.

I dunno, it was Johns who wrote her staying behind in the DCU universe of the future in the Legion Final Crisis story – Levitz hasn’t done much with it, so I reckon either Johns wants to boost her up, or more cynically, just wants to remind people he brought her back.

Not sure why there’s a big deal over XS. She’s Barry’s granddaughter. She’s a speedster. We’ve seen her in several stories with the other Flash’s. Her presence in a panel called ‘family’ is arguably more apt than Max or Jesse.

For some reason, the fact that it’s her birthday feels significant, as does the entire presence of Barry’s mother in this story. I don’t know if Johns will do anything with it, but we’ll see.

The single most relevant fact you’d get from having followed the Flash before this event is that Professor Zoom went back in time to kill Barry’s mother and altered the timeline in the process. (But this was in Flash:Rebirth, which was a bit of a miss by Johns.)

But your analysis seems to indicate that Johns has mostly laid out these beats anyways (you noticed that the presence of Barry’s mother could be significant, and that there’s the mystery involving Professor Zoom’s appearance.)

Chad: The casino thing, I assume, will be explained, because it is somewhat odd. We’ll just have to wait!

Hunter: Well, you can see it that way. I don’t know where Barry wears his Flash ring or if it even still exists, but I just assumed, as he was running to the scene of the crime and he still believes he’s the Flash, that he suddenly noticed the ring where he keeps his costume is no longer there and wasn’t really thinking about being married. And if you’ve ever read anything I’ve ever written, you’ll know I’m married (but I don’t wear a ring!), so of course I understand WHY he was upset about Iris. I was just pointing out that after waking up in a world where his long-dead mother is alive, he’s no longer the Flash, nobody has ever heard of Superman or the Justice League, and nobody at the newspaper knows who he is, he MIGHT be a bit more prepared for the fact that Iris is smooching some other dude.

Yes, I forgot about Project: Superman. And yes, I made a mistake with Billy/Freddy. Man, I must be an editor for a comic book company!

R.: Sorry, I forgot to discuss your comment. I started writing something about the transformation scene, because I agree that it was a bit confusing, but then I was editing this, and I forgot to rewrite it. Like you, I was unclear on a first reading that all the kids turned into Captain Thunder or if he was the seventh member of the group. It’s not done as well as it could have, I agree.

If Bruce died, yet everyone is all the same age in the normal timeline… wouldn’t Thomas Wayne be pushing 50 or 60 or possibly even 70 (depending how old he was when Bruce was born and how much time had passed since then) by that point?

Go superhero comics!

I’ve enjoyed your Page by Page articles and I’m hoping you’ll do one for every event.

I’m mainly skipping this because of the artist’s style, but i the ideas a a lot of the ideas I’ve seen so far such as
Thomas Wayne as Batman, Cyborg stepping up, Wesley Dodds, and Captain Thunder .

As far as rebooting and changes to hit the DCU after Flashpoint; this could set up a good starting point for the new Aquaman series and a continued push for Cyborg.

I wish you’d do this with more issues of both mini-series. Very enjoyable read, thanks!

“For some reason, the fact that it’s her birthday feels significant, as does the entire presence of Barry’s mother in this story. I don’t know if Johns will do anything with it, but we’ll see.”

Uh, yeah – in Flash 12 he went to his mother’s grave to leave her flowers because it was her birthday. Right at that point the Reverse Flash (or whomever) started Flashpoint. I doubt there’s much more to the significance other than history was altered and time continued at that precise second.

Barry was definitely looking for his Flash ring, as we was running off to do Flash-y things. Not his wedding ring. What was confusing was how a depowered Barry Allen could be surrounded by three people while sitting in an office chair, yet still get up and run out (without super speed, mind you) without anyone noticing he was gone until they looked down right under their noses. Try pulling that off in your next staff meeting. With that goofy speed-effect left on the chair that you pointed out, I thought for sure Barry still had his speed but not his costume.

Apparently it’s hard to fill in missing/unknown info w/o indignation. Yeesh.

BohemiaDrinker

May 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

Speedy Multicultural Lass?

Really?

>Speedy Multicultural Lass

Lame, mr. Writer.

BohemiaDrinker

May 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm

You know, actually….. I`d leave this alone, but I just can`t:

XS, the “Speedy Multicultural Lass” the writer talks about is not only the granddaughter of Barry Allen (which is the main character of the book) but has been a player in the Legion of Superheroes since her creation 17 years ago.

It`s a character that SHOULD be in that shot.

Also, when Flashpoint released it`s preview in FCBD, she was WRONGLY colored as a white young woman. This has generated some controversy:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/newsarama/20110512/en_newsarama/fcbdflashpointcoloringerrorsparksdiversitydebate

Now, if the writer intentions is, as stated, to “look at how the creators construct this comic and what tricks they use to do so.”, and he deems the only black character in a family shot as “Speedy Multicultural Lass”, it makes it look like a gimmick. Like a desperate at “filling a quota”.

In all fairness, XS color is a mistake that DC already had to correct once in the last week – do we need a review from a vehicle as large as CBR implying they were wrong at doing so?

What’s weird for me about XS being in that picture is that she’s not somebody who’s spent much time in the 21st century or in Flash comics. There’s been a little bit of crossover, but she’s essentially a Legion character, and a Reboot Legion character at that (albeit one that Johns liked enough to sneak into current continuity while the rest of her Legion wandered off into the mists of the multiverse).

I’m sure she’s in there mostly because she’s going to show up later in this very crossover, but saying she “should” be included in the portrait would make a lot more sense if you had the Tornado Twins, Iris West/Kid Flash and some of the other future Flashes in there as well.

Did anyone else take Element Girl’s line as an inside joke that the only person who used her in however many decades was Gaiman, to kill her off in Sandman? I thought it was a nice touch.

I’m not sure what the inside joke would be, exactly, but I’m sure Element Girl wouldn’t be on Johns’s radar if it weren’t for Gaiman’s brief resurrection of her in Sandman.

I’m curious about what the deal with the Outsider is going to be, because the original Outsider turned out to be Alfred. It’s a little like bring back the Star-Tsar, Superman’s “new partner” Powerman, or Batman’s partner Wingman.

Of the Kubert brothers I definitely prefer Andy – the fact he was drawing this pushed me over the edge to give flashpoint a try. The first issue has me hooked enough to ride this out. The Batman twist was very nicely done – as was your synopsis. Would like to see more of these.

I do not know if this has been answered already, but does anyone know which miniseries I should read in order to find out more about Element Woman?

Travis Pelkie

May 17, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Ooh, I was hoping you’d do this. I actually read this book.

As was pointed out, Speedy Multicultural Lass is XS. What’s interesting is that in the FCBD book preview, she’s colored Caucasian, so somewhere along the line, someone realized they screwed up. However, is Wally’s son NOT a speedster, so not shown here? And where’s Bart? (I wrote this before reading other comments. I’m not surprised that there was controversy over the original error, but what’s new? I liked the SML line, btw. If you didn’t know who she was, it IS a surprise to see her there. Have they ever shown her father?)

Interesting point about the cover and Flash’s costume coming off. I think Barry’s costume is made from Speed Force like Wally’s was, so if it’s “melting away”, that might be a clue to what’s going on. Nice catch!

I’m guessing Kubert made Barry’s eyes similar in the flashback and when his mom reappears. He’s not some newbie at this stuff. You made it sound like it was an accident that he did it that way, and I doubt that.

Paved parking lots get dirty, c’mon.

The empty chair with the “speed burst” might look goofy, but it does make us think Barry’s still got his speed, until the reveal.

The Gotham City landscape, especially given the reveal at the end of the book, makes me think the Batman mini will be pretty interesting. Plus, Azzarello and Risso, so it’ll be cool. Why all the gambling and such? Why is Wayne industries promoting this but Thomas is fighting crime? It’s intriguing.

Maybe Eugene has a Prince Albert lightning bolt. Yow!

You say that Fear Itself has the exposition with characters standing around talking about what’s going on. I’d say in this one, Johns is certainly doing the exposition with all the characters standing around. The scene on the rooftop LITERALLY has all the heroes standing around and talking about it.

One thing I noticed that you didn’t bring up is that Nora seems to accept what Barry is telling her WAY too easily, in my mind. I don’t know if that’s a clue, or if it’s bad writing, or what.

Remember when Final Crisis was coming out, GMozz said that he and Johns were going to be the only 2 to write the Multiverse/52 Earths stuff, and it would finally all make sense? I wonder if this is one of the 52 worlds. If you read my guest piece on the Boston Comic Con, you saw that Tony Harris mentioned that the Whistling Skull is taking place on the earth with the JSA Liberty Files continuity, and ties into that, and it’s (supposedly) coming out next year, so maybe the 52 Earths are coming back to the forefront.

I have read a couple issues of Flash, so I know that Zoom has time traveled (or whatever) and remade his own story/continuity/life, and from what I’ve read, he went back in time to kill Nora. How that will all come together is intriguing.

I was much more interested in the DC event as I tend to prefer DC, like alternate universes better, and think Andy’s pretty good. (Imagine Andy getting inked by his dad on this. Wow!)

The first thing I thought of with the Star Wars quote was: “didn’t Burgas eviscerate JMS for doing that in that awful Brave and Bold issue?” Seriously, that was my first thought.

My impression was definitely that Barry was puzzled at missing his FLASH ring, since he’s running away to become THE FLASH in that part. I don’t think he notices the wedding ring until later (or else why go look for Iris the way he did), although it is odd that the left hand is shown.

All in all, I’m intrigued by what’s going on, I might pick up Booster Gold, and I’ll probably pick up issue 2 and some of the minis to see what’s going on. But I’m going on an issue by issue basis. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick things up as each issue comes out, instead of like I did when FC was out, and I didn’t get to pick up those issues until it was all over.

I’m not liking the look of things if this is really going to be a major status-quo-affecting reboot situation (not in terms of the alternate-universe stuff or its likely-short-lived versions of some characters, but about what might get cleared off the decks when things go back to “normal”).
Got a very bad feeling about this whole business.

I do not know if this has been answered already, but does anyone know which miniseries I should read in order to find out more about Element Woman?

Kyle: Element Girl last appeared in Sandman #20, which is reprinted in the trade collection The Sandman: Dream County.

Before that, she hadn’t been seen since the late 1960s, in Metamorpho #10-17, reprinted in Showcase Presents: Metamorpho vol. 1.

As far as I know those are her only appearances.

Travis Pelkie

May 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Wow, buttler, that’s all that Element Woman was in?

I remember reading that Gaiman included her in Sandman because he felt sad that she didn’t even get an entry in Who’s Who.

In the Sandman story, there are references to a mysterious government type organization that she worked for. Was this in the Metamorpho stories? If not, considering it was a one off story, Gaiman (again) showed his chops by showing a rich back story with just a few details.

As for where this Element Woman is appearing, I’m not sure which Flashpoint mini it would be. There’s a shit ton of them, so who knows? Secret Seven? The Lois Lane one?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 17, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Kyle: Element Girl last appeared in Sandman #20, which is reprinted in the trade collection The Sandman: Dream County.

Before that, she hadn’t been seen since the late 1960s, in Metamorpho #10-17, reprinted in Showcase Presents: Metamorpho vol. 1.

As far as I know those are her only appearances.

She was in Wednesday Comics, in the Metamorpho story by Gaiman and Allred.

The blimps in Gotham are not a sign of this being an alternate world. Police blimps have been in Gotham for over a decade now, first inspired by their use in the Batman animated series of the 1990s. And drawing children with slightly larger eyes than they should have has been a trick used in comics and cartoons just about since the medium was invented, since larger eyes immediately evoke a sense of youth and innocence.

Element Girl’s intro and origin were all about her being portrayed as a thoroughly inept spy. Sent to infiltrate an evil organization led by a man named Stingray, she instead fell for Stingray and blew her cover. She was then sent to deliberately acquire copies of Metamorpho’s powers by duplicating his origin, and developed a one-sided crush on him after the two of them started working together. Bizarrely, Metamorpho’s series ended witht he two of them framed for some crime, and on the run together. When he next turned up, he was back to his classic setup working for Stagg and wooing Sapphire, and Element Girl was simply forgotten until the Sandman series. Even Galactus parody villain the Thunderer — he’s a dwarf, see, not a giant — got more play in Metamorpho flashbacks prior to Gaiman’s Sandman story.

The whole thing could have been played as a clever riff on the usual James Bond seduce-the-female-spy thing – what are the emotional consequences for the woman he seduces? — but was basically a standard 1960s Gurls R Dum” sort of thing. Gaiman was the one who really gave the character some tragic weight, and she actually GOT her Who’s Who entry out of it in 1990. Since then Element Girl has turned up in occasional cameos to show us when a flashback is set in the Silver Age..as happened in the, uh, Silver Age fifth week series masterminded by Mark Waid. (She’s in a single panel of the Silver Age: Seven Soldiers one-shot, since booted from continuity, in which Geoff Johns has Deadman possess her to recruit Metamorpho.)

Doug Stafford

May 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

What the hell is a westernised Sihk? One without a turban, facial hair, and a kirpan? I just thought he was a person of east indian descent but could not determine his caste from the illustration.

Doug: Most Sikhs have “Singh” as their surname. Maybe Johns is just randomly picking names out, but I just assumed he was a Sikh. I know not all Sikhs retain their distinctive look, so I just wondered if he adopted Western modes of fashion and grooming. You seem really angry about that for some reason.

This isn’t an alternate universe story.

It’s an altered universe story. Small distinction, but a big difference.

This is the DC world we know that has been altered due to an event in time. This is not taking place in a universe parallel to the normal DC universe, that Barry Allen has woken up in.

This gives it more weight in my opinion, and takes away the elseworlds stigma.

Some of these changes to the universe are likely to stick, once the story is done. It sounds like September may lead to a very different post-Flashpoint DC universe.

Just thought I should point out that Element GIRL is different to Element WOMAN, the latter being a new creation of Flashpoint.

They both have different real names, though I assume their powers are similar. The original Element Girl is dead as seen in Sandman.

Doug Stafford

May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm

GREG: Not angry at all. Actually I really enjoyed your article and like others, wish you were doing a Flashpoint critique of every issue. Keep up the good work!

Doug: Oh, okay. Cool. I misread your sentiments. I’d love to do these for every issue of the two summer events, but as I’m not getting to the comic book store every week, I can’t guarantee it. I’ll definitely do the final issues, though, and I’ll see about trying to do some in the middle!

“Some of these changes to the universe are likely to stick, once the story is done.”

I do not have a good feeling about that. At all.

The most recent incarnation of the DCU may not exactly be the best ever, but Johns’ thing for resetting back to Silver Age versions of characters and the trend to move away from later legacy versions points to some unwelcome possibilities. Especially with Boring Old Barry as the viewpoint character.

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