Review: Flashpoint 5
Flashpoint is one of the least impressive stories about the Flash. I want to get this out of the gate immediately. Flashpoint can hardly be called a story, it’s more like staring out of a car window as scenery passes you by. There was always great potential here, perhaps even the beginning of a great Flash story. It’s just so damning on writer Geoff Johns that he could not use this interesting new world to any greater extent than undeserved shock moments and window dressing. Johns has had an impressive run of comics so far, but this is easily his weakest. A reader will rarely be so underwhelmed by Barry Allen than in Flashpoint.
Let’s recap the story so far. There’s an alternate universe and the Flash is going to fix it with Thomas Wayne Batman. This is all that happens. There is no character development. You don’t learn anything new about Barry Allen or Thomas Wayne. There is semi-witty banter followed by screaming and death. It’s a slideshow almost, like the ones your grandparents show you about their trip to Milan. And like watching their grandparents’ trip, the reader will have the same reaction, boredom and disappointment. So badly does Flashpoint want to you be awed by its climatic moments. It practically screams at the reader ‘look how badass this is’ or ‘look how dark this is’. It is all undeserved, a knife meant to twist in a non-existent wound. Only within a four page stretch does it ever come close to matching its potential, and even then it just feels dumb.
The conclusion to this series is insulting, to the reader and to Barry Allen. The ‘change’ that caused this drastic shift in timelines is ludicrous, and breaks the suspension of disbelief. As for the ‘hero’, without knowledge of Johns’ run on the Flash, Barry appears to be a petty man-child. The final revelation may have come across better, had the story been better written. However, crushed underneath the iron fist of Johns’ literalism and lack of subtlety, it is easy to point Barry Allen’s motivations as being silly and child-like.
Not to mention that Flashpoint is hardly about Barry Allen at all. It is far more about Batman (or Batmen) than it is about the Flash. The Reverse-Flash barely shows up in this issue, despite the entire series building up to his appearance and attempting to find him. And when he does, that battle concerns Batman more than it does the Flash. Barry is reduced to a courier status, a guy who delivers messages between universes, but never does anything.
The art is fine. Alex Kubert lays out scenes traditionally, without much dynamism. His lines look scratchy and more busy than other issues, likely because he had to draw a whole backgrounds filled with people. The art feels tired and while it’s good for the most part, it’s not impressive. It simply exists to push this story to a close. Alex Sinclair continues to be one of the greatest reasons to read Flashpoint, but here, he just doesn’t match what he’s shown in other issues. The thematic colours are not as evident, and it doesn’t have any emotion behind it.
Again, the beginning of this series sparked a lot of promise. Johns is great at building worlds. It is practically his job at DC, to elaborate and unify concepts in under-appreciated superheroes. It is so disappointing that this series’ sole existence is to have an in-universe explanation for why DC has a relaunch. Not to tell an interesting story, not to build character, but to placate a niche audience who would have moaned had there not been anything to lead into the “new 52”.