Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Mane Event - Flashpoint #1

A few weeks ago I reviewed Marvel's event book du jour - Fear Itself. Timed a few weeks after its release, DC has launched Flashpoint.

I have been trying very hard not to get involved in all the hype. There have been teasers and thoughts pushed by every major comic site - avoiding them has been an exceptional test of restraint. With many early statements leading to speculation of whom, what and how I’ve only been unable to stay away from, ironically, The Flash as I have followed it since the rebirth. Setting up since the late times of Brightest Day, the entrance of Eobard Thawne has pointed to a fractured universe for the Flash where nothing is as it was.

You can tell that DC is investing in this as well. Not only are there more than 14 crossovers hitting every main character and some of the Flash’s more significant enemies of the past too, but also they have stepped outside of the DCU to pave the way. This could be make or break as it will challenge all of the preconceived ideas we have about our favourite heroes, as they may not have come to be, or even exist in the way we know them at all. The glue that will hold it all together is the scripting of none other than Geoff Johns.

His workload must be hectic considering all the other titles he is involved in at present but it’s worth it. Essentially, if it has Johns’ name on it at the moment it is at least worth picking up and taking a peek at and Flashpoint is no exception. Johns has the DC Midas touch right now.

From the moment the main story starts it moves at a very fast pace... but not the pace of the Flash as we know him. Waking up mid-case after pulling an all-nighter, Barry Allen runs as fast as he can, slips, trips and falls down the stairs into someone he never thought he’s see again, his mother. This is just the first of many changes he has to adjust to in this brave new world.

As the issue opens out further we are given insight into other ripples that have crossed the DCU. Batman is now sporting red instead of yellow, a tiny change but even more noticeable is his demeanour. The subsequent discussion with Cyborg and his assembled team, which contains an interesting assortment of characters from both sides of the former moral fence, is another pivotal point as it’s here that we learn of the war on this earth. The only difference is that it is between Atlantis and the Amazons and affecting everyone.

With the changing outlook of different players and a whole new environment, Johns has managed to set a multitude of scenes in waiting for this series. Admittedly not all of them, and there are plenty that aren't even alluded to, but that is also a good thing as there is simply not enough space to do that effectively. What he does do is leave you hanging with a massive twist at the end. One I have to admit not see coming at all.

Andy Kubert has teamed up for the artwork and he makes an impact immediately with the cover shot. It is vibrant and intriguing all at once, fantastically drawn and definitely an eye catcher.

The contents of the issue are no different either. I’ve not seen a lot of Kubert’s work as he has been on titles I don’t normally read but now I’ve seen his work I’m really impressed. There is a huge amount of detail in every frame, both fore and background, without crushing or cramming the frames. There’s also been the chance to be more expressive too, considering that all the individuals we see are people we know but just not quite, meaning that a new take or twist can be added when drawing them. Batman’s horned shoulders are but one example of this. I’m also fairly sure that there are plenty of references and hints in there that I’ll only notice in retrospect. Sandra Hope has worked harmoniously with Kubert as well to give a very well presented issue.

The upshot of this all, without blowing too much from the issue, is that I’m glad that I have pre-ordered Flashpoint as well as specific cross over pieces. If this is a mark of what is to come then things are looking very bright. More importantly, the delicate balance of the DCU isn’t being messed with so it also means that anyone who isn’t a fan is not going to be left out or left behind too.

Matt Puddy feels this is another gem from Geoff Johns.

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