Wednesday, August 08, 2018

I Had Issues! My Old Review of Flashpoint #4

Oh, this is when the fun began as a comics reviewer. I hate event comics, but I jumped into the whole Flashpoint and New 52 deluge with wild abandon. These were the reviews I had the most fun writing. Another "By-The-Numbers" style review, which were even more fun to do (and helpful when I was on deadline). Originally published August 30, 2011. Edited for grammar and clarification.

I announced Flashpoint dead 15 minutes after reading issue #4, one issue before it actually "ends" this coming Wednesday. Every once in a while, I think it could and should have ended three issues earlier than that! Let's find out why. Lists are easy to do, and yet it will still look like more effort was put in by me than the people behind this book. Shall we begin?

1. These are the official rules: To do an epic story that's good, or at least a story, you need 12 issues. To do an "event" book that creates the illusion of a story (which requires Ed Brubaker to create a point for it in a separate series), you only need seven issues.

2. If your "event" book is five issues, then you have don't even have the illusion. It's pretty embarrassing. I should send the new event writers a copy of Marvel's Secret War II just to show them how it's done.

 3. "There Is No Justice Between Enemies!" Does anyone know what that means? I know it's a play off of Justice League, but can anyone get any meaning outside of wordplay?

4. To all the critics and retailers feigning apathy and being all "eh," and saying it is at least better than Fear Itself, I will say this: YOU ARE LYING! You are in denial that this series is DC's swab of alcohol just before they prescribe the lethal injection that is the New 52.

 5. "Tawny became the mighty Battle Cat, and I became Captain He-Man, the most mightiest mortal in the universe!"

6. For all the lip service to the butterfly effect, it's hilarious that no one's brought up the Batman effect, that no matter how many ripples in time you create, there will always be a Batman wearing more or less the same costume, even if it's Bruce's father. Is that somehow explained in the Flashpoint: Batman book or in Morrison's books? If so, I don't care.

7. Okay, so in issue one, the super beings all convene via holographic projectors (apparently, they all shop at BJ's) thanks to Cyborg, who's conferencing with them in Gotham with Batman (wow, it almost sounds like an actual plot), and when six kids to say "Shazam," a bolt of lightning comes down from the sky above Gotham...and hits the hologram of the kids? Does that even make sense? I guess Johns was just happy to get timely pencils and said he'd make all of it work.

8. Yes, there are spoilers. No, this is not chronological.

9. Yes, I stole the joke in point number 4 from George Carlin. No-prize for those of you who noticed. 

10. For alternative versions of existing characters to work, they still have to make sense. Captain Thunder is a cool idea, but using this in the new DC is an idea that's going to drop harder and faster than Captain Marvel in the current DC. If you want to get realistic (you know, about magic), you should ask yourself what wise man would think it's a good idea to put ultimate power in six kids who have to say a magic word simultaneously while standing together to make it work? Especially when you can't even get six somewhat mature adults to gather for a photo? Obviously, the wizard never wanted to have the power used ever again, so he split it up among these children, at least half of which likely have ADHD. And oh, yeah, great idea kids, letting everyone know you're really six tykes who combine into one Mattel play set. I'm sure there won't be any bad repercussions. 

11. Coming up in issue #1 of Captain Thunder: While Black Adam plots revenge, the kids move on to junior high and get placed in separate home rooms thanks to Superintendent Sivana. Earth is doomed.

12. Okay, there will be more spoilers, including the big one from issue #5 thanks to Bleeding Cool. Don't continue if you don't want to know.

13. I'm serious.

14. Is there something just a little misogynistic about Flashpoint? If you pretend it's a story that doesn't need umpteen other writers to flesh out the ideas in other mini-series, you see that Barry Allen casts his mother aside in issue #1, though she's now unmurdered thanks to some time flux. The fact that he sees a loved one returned from the grave doesn't give him a moment's pause. On top of that, he basically steals her car.

15. Continuing the misogynist rout, why is it so logical that other women would automatically join with Wonder Woman and (as Johns implies) amazons on a castrating craze just because they're women? What is their logical stake? Again, I'm asking this as someone who pays rent in a room that's not a basement owned by my parents and can't buy all the tie-in books.

16. When you look at Thomas Wayne Batman character, he seems so quick to give up on his life and the life of his wife, who's never mentioned by anyone. Yes, you know what happens to Martha Wayne by now, and she's also dead, but that's in a separate series. In Flashpoint itself, the lack of mention is kind of awkward.

17. Final Flashpoint part that seems misogynistic: I think while Wonder Woman's definitely a war criminal and mass murderer, Aquaman can be rightly accused of genocide on the grounds of drowning countries. Why does Flash (who at this point knows about as much as anyone who's read only the main series does) reason with Aquaman instead of Wonder Woman? Wouldn't you think the lesser of two evils would be better? It seems that no matter what series she's in, there's more reason given to hate Wonder Woman simply because a) the writers can do it and b) not enough people care about her. Let's face it, if it was Superman attempting to control the world in Flashpoint, more people would go through the roof.

17. I imagine the original dialogue for the last part Flashpoint #4:

Batman: We have to take out Aquaman before he sinks the island and kills even more people!

Flash: No! Let me try to reason with him!

Captain He-Man: Wonder Woman's mine! In the mainstream universe, she killed Maxwell Lord to save the life of Batman and perhaps millions more from a mind-controlled Superman!

Flash: Cripple the bitch!

18. Now you find out in the preview to the upcoming issue #5 that Barry Allen is the cause of the alternate reality because he wanted to save his mother's life. This isn't a big reveal. This is the plot finally explained to us after four plodding issues. That's just cheating. Barry Allen just went through the motions of trying to fill comics pages restore reality, not even bothered by the idea that it could result in his mother dying again, which would have been an interesting angle to cover. This isn't just forgetting to put legitimate drama in a story, this is flat out refusing to do so. This is lazy writing. Not to mention it makes Barry's mother more of a throwaway device than most female creators
characters in the DC Universe.

19. A few years ago, Alan Davis came out with an okay Elseworlds story The Nail, which described a DC Universe without Superman. Not a great story, but it made a lot of sense. Given Superman's power and presence as a character, his absence would be felt. What in the world makes The Flash, or more specifically The Flash's Mother, the lynchpin to the entire reality? If time was really that fragile, wouldn't Clark Kent going back and forth to the future (forth and back?) to party with the Legion of Superheroes be more of a potential hazard? If the time stream is so fragile, wouldn't the Reverse Flash have ceased to exist at some point?

20. This book seems more like an attempt for Geoff Johns to convince us why the returned old Flash character is relevant. It fails to convince on all levels. It does nothing except maybe make Johns feel better.

21. A couple of critics have expounded that Johns probably sees himself as The Flash. I think if he took the time to think about it, Johns would see he's more like Eobard Thawne, the evil Flash character manipulating things behind the scenes, confident he's going to win. The Reverse Flash will have his revenge, Johns will have his Justice League book with Jim Lee. We can see it coming. There's nothing anyone can do about it. We might as well set ourselves on fire via lightning like Barry Allen. 

22. And I'm not making fun of Johns writing himself into a character. Heck, while at Marvel, Jim Shooter wrote himself into the all powerful manchildren The Beyonder and Star Brand. Could be worse.

23. I gotta say, I read Secret Wars II back in the day and never felt the need to pick up the crossover issues (and there were a few). I can challenge the quality now, but I still remember it more as an actual story, not a crossover. You can't even say that about Infinite Crisis.

24. And wasn't Secret Wars II only nine issues? It breaks my own rules! And wasn't The Beyonder basically drawn towards the end as a white Michael Jackson? I'm sure someone thought that was offensive at the time.

25. To the creative and editorial teams of Flashpoint: If I keep bringing up Secret Wars II, it's because you deserve it. 

25.1. It looks like Marvel is continuing Fear Itself to include a 7.1 and 7.2. Apparently they want to improve the book and took my rule to heart in this column before I even published it. you're welcome, Marvel.

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