A single Comics Bulletin reviewer. Fifty-two tie-ins to a major DC Comics summer event. If he hasn’t hit the wall by now, he’s not gonna.
Just weeks away from the industry-saving/apocalyptically cataclysmic (depending on your particular preference for overreaction) relaunch, DC Comics are whipping themselves into a finale frenzy. A glut of “last stories” are presently lining the shelves of comic shops everywhere, allowing creators a chance to give their final words on characters like Dick Grayson, Stephanie Brown and the Secret Six, whose status quos won’t be surviving the line-wide overhaul. Though bittersweet, the fair majority of these endings have been quite good, not only pleasantly punctuating the stories they’re wrapping up but reminding us all why we enjoyed those stories in the first place.
Flashpoint, too, has kicked its finale production into overdrive. With the entire event nearing its finish line, the tie-in miniseries have begun a long-awaited mass exodus from the marketplace in publishing their closing chapters. As you might expect, these finales haven’t borne the same mark of quality as their standard DCU counterparts. In all but a few cases, they’ve either been minor letdowns or confirmations that the series they were a part of were never any good in the first place.
With all that in mind, this edition of Flashpoint Marathon will be a bit more uniformly focused than in weeks past. We’ll be taking a look at how each of this week’s books stacks up as a finale, and how it did or (more frequently) didn’t succeed. But before I get too relentlessly negative on you, loyal readers, here’s a bright side to keep in focus: none of these books will be getting a fourth issue!
Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #3 (of 3)
Writer: Scott Kolins
Artists: Scott Kolins, Mike Atiyeh (c)
What the finale aims for: All throughout this monument to blandness, writer/artist Scott Kolins has been trying to sell us on Citizen Cold as a suave con man who’s pulled the wool over Central City’s collective eyes. Or, maybe he’s supposed to be an earnest anti-hero trying to escape the specter of his checkered past. Either way, Kolins would obviously like us to feel somehow affected when Cold meets his untimely end. (Uh, spoiler warning, I guess.) My money’s on it having been intended to evoke a sense of justice being served, but it could be meant as a tragic ending as well.
Where it goes wrong: Without a clearer or, at least, better executed take on Cold’s character, this book never had a chance. As in earlier issues, female lead Iris West seems perplexingly charmed by Cold’s brash come ons to her, acting shocked upon the rather obvious revelation that her would-be paramour is a killer. Stronger characterization would have been a must for an ending like this to have any resonance, something like what Gail Simone achieved for her lovable band of scoundrels over in Secret Six.
Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #3 (of 3)
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artists: Fabrizio Fiorentino, Kyle Ritter (c), Ander Zarate (c)
What the finale aims for: For much of these three issues about a circus troupe caught up in the Amazonian invasion of Europe, J.T. Krul has been promoting some simplistic, yet honest, character development. Here, in the wake of tragedy, he seeks to bring about a reconciliation of sorts between two of those characters, Dick Grayson and Boston Brand, who have previously exhibited the most polar opposite of personalities. Krul also has destiny on the mind, making sure that both Dick and Boston don’t leave this book without transforming into some rendition of their regular DCU selves.
Where it goes wrong: I’ve been an ardent apologist for this series for most of its lifespan, but even I have to admit that its conclusion is somewhat lacking. Krul does stay loyal to his two main characters’ story arcs, but he ends up having to smash a lot of plot together quickly in order to bring them each to the point at which he wishes for them to end up. Boston especially gets a raw deal in this regard, instantaneously shoehorned into his familiar Deadman role without any real in-story explanation. On the whole, this has still been one of Flashpoint’s better tie-ins, but I wish it were leaving a better taste in my mouth.
Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #3 (of 3)
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Vicente Cifuentes, Diana Egea (i), Kyle Ritter (c)
What the finale aims for: Last issue, writer Tony Bedard set forth an explanation for the Flashpoint Aquaman’s continent-sinking temper tantrums, tracing step by step how the altered reality of the sea king’s childhood made him all the worse for it. This finale is geared toward seeing that idea through to its ultimate fruition, leading Aquaman all the way to the point of outright villainy. There’s also a bit of character movement taking place, making sure that everyone ends up exactly where they’re supposed to be for the purposes of Geoff Johns’ Flashpoint #4.
Where it goes wrong: As much as I like Bedard’s assertion that a lack of education in the field of human compassion left a half-developed Arthur Curry vulnerable to a hawkish manipulation toward violence, it doesn’t entirely ring true as it is presented. Too often throughout this crossover we have seen the character argue for compassion, making every effort to ward off the temptations of hostility. It should also be noted that the events that occur in this issue don’t really constitute a finale so much as they do a loose collection of events that supplement the rest of Flashpoint. In fact, the same could be said for this tie-in series as a whole.
Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #3 (of 3)
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Andy Smith, Keith Champagne (i), Pete Pantazis (c)
What the finale aims for: An ending for Jeff Lemire’s characters in this series is inextricably linked to each of their beginnings, so this issue features nearly the entire cast coming to terms with its origins. The Creature Commandos discover the true source of their supernatural powers, monster hunter Miranda Shrieve is forced to question who her true enemies are, and Frankenstein is reunited with his estranged bride. Also, it’s no secret that this whole miniseries has served a dual function as a pilot episode of sorts for Lemire’s upcoming Frankenstein ongoing, so it stands to reason that much of this is engineered to whet our palates for that.
Where it goes wrong: It doesn’t, actually. From start to finish, Frankensten has been an unqualified joy to read, one that would have been worth DC’s efforts to publish whether Flashpoint existed or not. The art in this last issue may be less interesting than what we’ve seen previously in this book, but at this point in my Flashpoint journey I’m more than willing to let that go in exchange for some top-notch writing. If it’s anything like this (And why wouldn’t it be?), then I’m all in for Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. when it launches this fall.
See how I’m letting you go on a pleasant note? It’s my gift to you for sticking with me this far. Now, get your mind off of Flashpoint and go check out Bryan Q. Miller’s last issue of Batgirl. That’s a guy who knows how to write a series finale!
For more comic book related masochism, check out the previous installments of our Flashpoint Marathon:
Flashpoint Marathon: Starting Line
Flashpoint Marathon:Week 1
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 2
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 3
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 4
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 5
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 6
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 7
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 8
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 9
Flashpoint Marathon: Week 10
Raised on a steady diet of Super Powers action figures and Adam West Batman reruns, Chris Kiser now writes for Comics Bulletin and can be found on Twitter as @Chris_Kiser. 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.