Side Points Edition #1
Hopefully everyone has had a chance to dig into the Flashpoint universe and get a good feel for how different and strange it is from the regular DCU that we have grown to know. You'll notice I've called this a special "Side Points" edition. That's because these columns are going to focus strictly on the books that support the main Flashpoint miniseries. That will be 15 separate series and the monthly Booster Gold series as well. I will be trying to get one of these out every week, but there is no set structure or schedule to how many books they will cover or what day I will get it out. I'm just going to try and cover as much information as I can and give a bit of my feedback on each book. I can honestly say that as I write this I have been impressed with the event overall, something I didn't think would happen. This is money well spent, my friends. So without any more delays, let's get into the first crop of books that tied into issue one of Flashpoint.
Abin Sur: The Green Lantern #1
One of the first things that came to my mind when reading this book is that I hate the fact that Abin Sur is officially dead. The more stories we are given about him, whether they are tweaked and reworked histories and origins of the Green Lanterns or just about Hal Jordan, I find Abin Sur to be intriguing like a legendary philosopher warrior, and I'm always wanting more of him. The second thing I noticed is how closely the art of this book is patterned after the look of the Green Lantern movie; you can decide for yourself how you feel about that. I enjoyed many aspects of it.
The book itself is interesting - without giving too much away, the story is an amalgamation of Geoff Johns' previous Green Lantern works, Secret Origin, some Rebirth, and Blackest Night and all twisted together with Flashpoint to make things new and a bit unpredictable. Abin Sur is given a deeper personality as a defender of all life, to an almost Buddhist extreme, and the readers are shown a glimpse into his childhood to explain how this was molded into his values. Somewhat of a loner as the book begins, Abin refuses to help his best friend Thaal Sinestro rally against the Black Lanterns that are threatening the universe, instead deciding to stay focused on his sector and personal crusade, until the Guardians enlist him on a special mission that sends him to Earth.
Being the first side book I read for Flashpoint, I really enjoyed it. To me this was the quintessential type of story DC is known for in its alternative/Elseworlds formats. We all know this isn't the real DCU, so it's ok for things to be different, even radically. This strange perspective makes me love the standards all that much more and maybe we can discover something in this story that does belong in the regular world of our characters. This is definitely worth picking up.
Secret Seven #1
This is most definitely not Gail Simone's Secret Six in any way. I take no shame and make no apologies about the uneven proportion of my comic knowledge that is weighed in favor of DC versus Marvel, but I still don't know every character. That being said I do well enough and can follow most any event without any help. This book was an exception. I was lost right away. It featured Shade the Changing Man, Black Orchid, and The Enchantress. After reading it a few times I'm still pretty much lost about the main players that I think will comprise the Secret Seven, I'm looking at this optimistically and settling in for a new experience, hoping to have some fun with characters I really don't know or know too much about.
The basic premise of this book seems to be Shade has to fight some type of insanity and possibly amnesia that is derived from his mental condition to put together a new Secret Seven to help Cyborg fight against Aquaman and Wonder Woman. I don't want to give away any more members of the team yet, they are supposed to be the Secret Seven after all, what good would it be for me to go giving that away? I'm digging this so far, with its trippy, almost psychedelic 1970's feel to the art and look of the costumes and characters. I hope it continues to keep this feel to it.
Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1
We have to keep in mind that this comes out between the first and second issues of Flashpoint, so some of the dialogue makes much more sense after reading Flashpoint #2, but I think a keen eye can figure this out on their own. Unlike many of the titles I talk about, I feel that to do this one justice I may be giving away more spoilers than I normally would, so let me just put that out there for you. If you haven't read this yet and you're looking to read it, skip the next few paragraphs. I think it's a very strong read, with a violent, crime noir feel that will probably be nicely molded by Brian Azzarello, so if that is a story type that interests you and you don't want spoilers, read no more.
If you're still with me, here is what Batman: Knight of Vengeance brings you; a grieving father who has used his family's vast fortunes to try and publically take control of the city on multiple ends so that he can monitor the criminal element and use his secret identity to punish the evil doers of Gotham City. This process is helped along by his uses of the many Wayne Family casinos, his control of the privatized Gotham Security Police Force, and effective personnel like Jim Gordon on one end and Oswald Copplepot on another end. All of this so that an aging Dr. Thomas Wayne, very reminiscent of Frank Miller's aging Batman from The Dark Knight Returns can try to change the world into something better than it is.
It's hard not to like this book, but at the same time it's also hard not to feel that despite the new little changes that we've also seen all of this before. A violent Batman? An older Batman? A very controlling Batman? Yeah, we've seen all those aspects of the caped crusader. Having the Dark Knight as Thomas Wayne is what really drives this story though. Turning the tables of grief from the stricken child to the stricken parent brings the perspective around and despite what we may have already seen or imagined, there is something primal, reassuring, and maybe just a bit entertaining to know that if something bad happens to any of us that the archetype of our father will rise up above the injustice and do more than just scream for vengeance, he will grab it and crush it. It's that rationalized part of each of us that can connect with this book and enjoy it. If I'm wrong, please chip in for my obviously much needed therapy!
World of Flashpoint #1
Of the initial four offerings into the Flashpoint world, this book was the most revealing and the most helpful for readers to get an understanding and scope of the landscape of how radically different the world has become after the onslaught of the Amazonian-Atlantean War. As much as I enjoyed Abin Sur #1 for its unique twisting of recent Green Lantern mythos, I think this book was my favorite.
The story opens on the eve of Aquaman's strike against Europe. Traci Thirteen is at home in Paris France with her family, sitting down to breakfast, when her mother has a vision moments before the tidal devastates the continent. Traci is only able to save herself and her father by teleporting away before passing out and leaving her mother and brothers to their deaths.
Skip forward eight months to awkward father-daughter relations and we're giving the obvious displays of tension between the two of them while Traci's thoughts educate us a bit about her and the world she now inhabits. After fighting with her father she magically storms out for a brief counseling session with her magical mentor, who tells her to make peace and not to add more conflict to a world overrun with war. Following this advice, Traci returns home, which just so happens to be a secret resistance headquarters under the Swiss Alps that her father is running with the rest of the free world. She arrives in time to act like any petulant teenage daughter who is constantly at odds with her father would, and that is to discover his secret plans to nuke the bad guys with a ton of collateral damage, so she breaks into a meeting of world leaders and starts throwing magic around. Because that's exactly what magical teenage girls do, right?
I know I sound cynical when I say it that way, but I was enjoying every second of it. It was fun to read and I could relate to the characters and the scenarios as they were presented. They other appealing part of the story was the visual look of the character, Traci Thirteen. For a magical character she didn't go completely satanic goth or some cute version of a Harry Potter witch and I appreciated that.
That's my recap of the first four side points of the Flashpoint universe. As I mentioned in my first column, I would be keeping track of the cost of this giant event series in terms of cost and this week it was $11.96, which would bring our total to $19.94 with the first two issues of the main title. My opinion so far is that I am ahead considering how much I've enjoyed the series so far. Let me hear your feedback. I'll be with you in a couple of days.
Chuck Kennedy/Columnist, Reviewer
Chuck Kennedy is active in the Comic Related forums and on the site, and is a former member of the Zone 4 podcast. Chuck enjoys writing and is a long running comic fan. He's also a stay-at-home father of triplets that were born in June of 2006. Before they were born, he was a high school history teacher who I loved teaching and being with his students. Check out more of Chuck's thoughts and commentary at the Comic Book Observatory.
blog comments powered by Disqus