When writing grand scale event comics in the past, Geoff Johns has typically waited until the second issue to unveil his crux plot point, the single concept or theme around which the remainder of the story revolves. Such was the case with Green Lantern: Rebirth and Infinite Crisis, books that both followed rather pedestrian debuts with series-defining sophomore releases. With Flashpoint, however, it seems that Johns has chosen to bide his time a bit longer. Three issues in, we readers finally have the moment of coalescence we’ve needed to make this story something to get excited about.
Of course, it feels like Johns has moved even more slowly in getting us to this point than he actually has. Though this is only Flashpoint’s third official chapter, there have been in excess of twenty tie-in books published to date, most of them rather aimlessly filling out the altered reality this series occupies. The contextualization Johns provides here doesn’t magically lift the poor quality of those other comics, but it does create a framework within which they don’t come across as quite so random. Instead of a hodgepodge of Elseworld-like reconfigurations, we now know that the altered status quo of Flashpoint is part of a calculated plan by the Reverse Flash to delete the Justice League from Barry Allen’s arsenal of allies.
Added to that is the introduction of one of the series’ most fully realized and well executed alternate takes on a popular character — the Flashpoint Superman. Like the issue one reveal of Batman’s secret identity, the manner in which Superman appears is both a surprising and fitting take on the character, meshing nicely with the circumstances of the story. A fair portion of that is due to Andy Kubert’s brilliant artistic rendition, which transforms the would-be Man of Steel into a fragile, wide-eyed waif. This is the tragic figure we’d have gotten if Siegel and Shuster had place the baby Kal-El in a government lab instead of the warm environment of the Kent farm.
Those positives aside, I should be careful not to anoint Flashpoint as some sort of overnight masterpiece. There’s still a smattering of awkward dialogue between the Flash and Batman, and the previous issue’s cliffhanger (involving Barry being struck by lightning) is resolved way too conveniently. It’s that last aspect that is this issue’s real black mark, essentially reducing what seemed like a major element of the plot to a cheap shock tactic. I can’t imagine what this particular turn of events will seem like to trade waiters, who, without the 30-day waiting period between key scenes, will experience an absurdly quick solution to the characters’ problem.
Once that moment passes, however, Johns really does get this book moving forward. If the final two issues are anything like the last half of this one, DC will have me eating many of my previously uttered negative words. Either way, I can confidently say that I eagerly await Johns’ work on the relaunch of Justice League, Flashpoint #3 serving as a promising sign that rumors of his mojo’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Check out the rest of our Flashpoint coverage:
Our Sunday Slugfest review of Flashpoint #1
Chris’ review of Flashpoint #2
Raised on a steady diet of Super Powers action figures and Adam West Batman reruns, Chris Kiser now writes for Comics Bulletin. He’s currently in the midst of reading and reviewing every tie-in to a major DC Comics summer event and regretting every second of it.