And the Eisner goes to…probably not Flashpoint. But we’re reviewing the whole thing anyway!
As you may have already noticed, the Comics Bulletin staff was well represented at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, though I was not among our delegation’s number. While some of us were living it up at the nexus of the geek culture, diving into the maelstrom of excitement, others, like me, stayed behind to hold down the fort and conduct business as usual. Maybe I’ll make it out to our hallowed mecca next year.
Either way, it’s hard to regret this year’s decision to bow out of the festivities. As fun as it may have been to stand neck and neck with a few thousand cosplayers and the legions of fans who love the things I love, it’s hard to argue against staying home. Why meet my favorite writers and artists in person when I can just follow them on Twitter? Why subject myself to the mid-70s San Diego weather when I can enjoy the East Coast heat index of 110°? And, of course, who could fathom taking a week off from writing about my beloved Flashpoint?
Sigh. At least I didn’t have to stand in any long lines for this stuff.
Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #2 (of 3)
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artists: Fabrizio Fiorentino, Alejandro Giraldo, Kyle Ritter (c)
A cursory flip through the pages of Deadman and the Flying Graysons #2 might seemingly confirm everything negative you’ve heard about comics written by J.T. Krul. Largely due to a particularly bizarre, gruesome, and wildly infamous scene in an issue of the miniseries The Rise of Arsenal, Krul’s name has become synonymous with gratuitousness, some of which you could argue is on display here. After all, the largest panels of the issue each involve copious amounts of blood and death, one of them even throwing in a giant man-eating shark for good measure.
Upon closer inspection, however, none of the above is really any worse than what you’d find in the average, everyday Geoff Johns comic, with the story told turning out to be fairly decent. Krul may never be Grant Morrison when it comes to the comic book craft, but this series is proving him to be perfectly satisfactory when it comes to meeting the demands of an event tie-in. This issue continues the flight of our circus acrobat protagonists from Europe’s encroaching Amazon hordes, and it’s a steadily developing tale with consistent characterization all the way through. The fact that it expounds upon and fleshes out the mythology of the greater Flashpoint universe puts it in a class that more of the event’s writers should have striven to be counted among.
Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #2 (of 3)
Writer: Adam Glass
Artists: Rodney Buchemi, Jose Marzan, Jr. (i), Artur Fugita (c)
If mindless violence is what you’re looking for, you’d be better off checking out Legion of Doom, which features an entire story constructed solely for the purpose of showing it. Connected to the larger Flashpoint saga only by loose association, this is a super-criminal prison break tale that could have occurred within any incarnation of the DC Universe. As I mentioned, the goal here appears not to be the propping up of Flashpoint’s alternate universe or delivering a new spin on any of its characters, but rather simply to create a situation in which a subset of them can find creative new ways to mutilate each other.
The central player in all of this is Heat Wave, more hardened and vindictive than his standard lovable rogue self. Within the span of about 10 pages, he lights several men on fire, squashes one’s head like a grape and curb stomps another American History X style. If that last one sounds a little too soft for you, it gets bloodier, as our star villain makes sure to bite the poor fellow’s nose off first. The squeamish who read this issue need not worry, though, as the dialogue is consistently written poorly enough to remind us all that it’s just a comic book.
Flashpoint: The Outsider #2 (of 3)
Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Javi Fernandez, The Hories (c)
The first issue of The Outsider left me with some questions about the title character’s status as hero or villain, but the second one has erased all lingering doubt. James Robinson makes sure to establish the hairless, chalky white figure as a ruthless crime lord, a master manipulator and blackmailer who isn’t hesitant to murder women and children for his own monetary advantage. From day one, the Outsider has employed these tactics in his rise to power, most notably in this issue against the family and nation of Black Adam.
While it is nice to have some clarification on how we should view the Outsider within the broader Flashpoint context, it does seem that Robinson has done some damage to our ability to relate to and root for the character within the pages of his own book. With a moral orientation so clearly on the side of the demons, the Outsider will likely fail to earn many readers affections, despite the fact that he seems intended to do so. Even in the face of a brilliant visual design and occasionally snappy dialogue, charm wears off quite quickly when we’re dealing with a character who’s willing to commit crimes against humanity at the drop of a hat.
Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (of 3)
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artists: Agustin Padilla, Jose Aviles (i), Val Staples (c)
Having been one of the highest quality offerings among the first batch of issues, Wonder Woman and the Furies is the recipient of a surprising tonal shift in its second installment. This is immediately noticeable in the book’s artistic change-up, which replaces the intricate and experimental pencils of Scott Clark with the simpler and more traditional work of Agustin Padilla. Though the nature of a story isn’t necessarily altered simply because it looks different, it’s a relevant observation in this case, wherein a potential standout series now seems reduced to the level of the middling masses.
Abnett and Lanning continue chronicling the origins of the Amazon-Atlantean War, but the results this time around are not quite so emotionally affective. Their first issue shined due to an inward focus on the people and relationships at the core of the conflict, whereas this one is content to exist as a chain of events told from a higher level view. This more distant approach is epitomiz
ed by the two-page spread in which a TV news broadcast summarizes key plot points, but it pervades the entire issue, including those scenes which we witness firsthand.
For more comic book related masochism, check out the previous installments of our Flashpoint Marathon:
Our Sunday Slugfest review of Flashpoint #1
Chris’ review of Flashpoint #2
Chris’ review of Flashpoint #3
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.