Through with off-panel references and brief, isolated look-ins, Flashpoint, in its penultimate issue, jumps right into the heart of what was once the exclusive purview of its many tie-in series — the Amazon-Atlantean war. No longer mere window dressing, these events are now fully integrated with the Flash adventure that comprises the heart of this book. While this serves to correct a rather glaring omission made by Flashpoint‘s early issues, it also requires Geoff Johns’ script to lean more heavily on the event’s many tie-ins which have, until now, remained fairly ancillary. In other words, readers who haven’t sampled those extra books may end up feeling slightly lost.
The story takes its turn when the Flash, facing the realization that he may not succeed in restoring the altered timeline to its proper state, resolves to do what he can to serve as a hero in the reality he has been given. In this case, that means travelling to the battlefront in Europe in hopes of engineering a reconciliation between would-be allies Wonder Woman and Aquaman before their escalating conflict swallows the world whole.
Enough information about the war has been scattered throughout Flashpoint to allow any reader to grasp its basic gist, but some of the finer details that originated in the tie-ins do end up playing a significant role. This would be par for the course for most comics crossovers, but Flashpoint was sold to its audience on the assertion that anything beyond the main title would be strictly optional. Taken in the most literal sense, this promise remains true, but readers who manage to muddle through the centerpiece Flashpoint book alone are bound to feel like they’re missing something from the story.
Whether you’re in the know on all the minutia or not, however, there are still some enjoyable moments to be had. This issue features a major role given to the S!H!A!Z!A!M! Agents, the Flashpoint stand-ins for Captain Marvel who have become one of the series’ more intriguing alterations to classic DC Comics lore. As it was with Superman last month, it is nice to see Johns getting the full mileage out of Flashpoint‘s best concepts. It’s perplexing why these characters were not deemed worthy of their own miniseries (especially given all the uninspired ones who did make it), but it’s a nice consolation to see them spotlighted so prominently here.
Per usual, Andy Kubert’s art again meets a high standard of quality. He is called upon many times this issue to render small panels that emphasize an important visual detail, and in each instance he comes through. This skill is seen to be particularly effective when the series’ villain ultimately makes his appearance, appropriately showing up in an eerie reflection in a puddle before bursting forth in his own splash page.
As it has been from the beginning, Flashpoint continues to be a fun superhero caper that is nevertheless weighed down by the same old crossover trappings. As a Flash tale, it’s the best one since Barry Allen returned from the dead three years ago. As the grand finale to two-and-a-half decades of DC Universe continuity, though, it doesn’t quite measure up.
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.