Because No One Demanded it!With Flashpoint #5 days away, how were those Flashpoint mini's is the question nobody is asking. So, here's the answer after reading every one of them over the last week. Ranked worst to best, let's begin with...
Credits & Solicit Info:
Azzaarello, Abnett, Bedard, Carlin, Gates, Glass, Kolins, Krul, Lanning, Lemire, Milligan, Ogle, Palmotti, Pichetshote, Robinson, Ryan, Schlagman, Snyder
Bennett, Buchemi, Castiello, Clark, Ferandez, Gomez, Guara, Ha, Janin, Kolins, Massafera, Morales, Nome, Nunez, Oliver, Perez/Blanco/Koblish, Risso, Roberson, Siqueira, Syaf
Because No One Demanded it!
With Flashpoint #5 days away, how were those Flashpoint mini's is the question nobody is asking. So, here's the answer after reading every one of them over the last week. Ranked worst to best, let's begin with...
Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager
Recap: Slade Wilson is a modern day pirate on the high seas. His crew is loyal (but if they saw a window...). Slade currently isn't after treasure though, what he wants is his kidnapped daughter. Believing she was on another vessel, he attacks and collect s her only to discover that the captured girl is someone else. Aquaman attacks and easily overpowers everyone on Slade's ship, but for reason I'm still not quite sure of, he just leaves (?). Later he's cornered by his nemesis Warlord, is saved by the last minute by the girl he rescues (she can blow up enemy ships with mid bullets or something). Together they pull a fast one on some guy named Caretaker who originally kidnapped the girl and Slade's daughter. Slade and the girl kill everyone and Rose Wilson is rescued.
Analysis: Page after page I found myself rooting for everyone but Deathstroke. This mini would have been much better if he was killed on page 1.
Writing – 2
Art – 2
Overall – 2
Recap: Rac Shade is a Changing Man from another dimension – his job is to capture inane criminals but it's Shade himself that appears to be going insane. He was part of a team called the Secret Seven but the 6 others all died (supposedly by suicide). Shade gets a new team of Secret Seven but the disband and go their separate ways. But then Shade and the Enchantress (whom he has a fling with) end up meeting the team again. Enchantress kills everyone but Shade and goes off to join the Amazon cause. Shade ends up in a limbo dimension of madness of which there is no escape until a disembodied voice tells him there may be a way out.
Analysis: Just when I thought nothing could be worse than the writing in the Deathstroke mini, this thing comes along. Milligan may know what he's writing but it just doesn't cross over to the reader. This book is just a wreck. The Perez pages are nice though.
Writing – 1
Art – 6
Overall – 3.5
Deadman and the Flying Graysons
Recap: Deadman is the star of the circus and a loner. The other aerialists are the Grayson family. Together they and the rest of the circus roam small towns of eastern Europe as the war has left them stranded there. Also, the amazons want something the circus has, namely the helm of Nabu. Amazons and Circus folk collide with Mom Grayson getting killed and Dad not far behind. Son Dick is ready to fight back while Boston (Deadman) just wants to run. With his final words, Dad Grayson begs Boston to watch out for his son. Boston has just begun to honor that commitment when he is killed and discovers that he is now a ghost. As a real deadman, Boston swears to be Dick's guardian ghost.
Analysis: a bit clunky in places this struck me as one of the least important minis as far as showcasing the world there.
Writing – 5
Art – 4
Overall – 4.5
Kid Flash Lost
Recap: Bart Allen, the one we've known for years, was plunged through the Speed force and ended up in a distant future Earth ruled by Brainiac. Helped with fellow time traveler Hot Pursuit, the two attempt to find the missing Speed Force so that they can set this alternative reality right. In battle against Brainiac, Hot Pursuit is killed but she unleashes the located Speed Force before she goes. Fully powered, Bart jumps back into the time stream where he encounters Max Mercury, Jay Garrick, and other speedster throughout history. A side effect of Bart's visits is that he sucks all the Speed Force out of the heroes. Finally Bart reaches Barry Allen (the real one from the DCU) and after a tender moment between grandfather and grandson, Bart gives Barry all the collected Speed Force he absorbed and begs his granddad to save the world. Bart then dies.
Analysis: Two issues escaping from Brainiac and one issue dealing with the Speed Force and it's history, I wish it was the other way around – actually the whole Brainiac future thing pretty meaningless to begin with and the mini would have better having Bart interact with Jay, Wally, etc more.
Writing – 3
Art – 6
Overall – 4.5
Green Arrow Industries
Recap: Oliver Queen sells munitions and with an overabundance of meta's and warring races overseas, Oliver stands to make a pretty penny. However his island lab is attacked he finds himself face to face in battle with the lone surviving attacker. Using the reverse engineered weapons from various super-villains, he puts up a good fight against the attacker but then the assailant reveals that she is his daughter. She ends up getting killed by security and he vows to do something.
Analysis: An interesting premise that for all times villains like the Rogues are jailed, that someone would actually study the tech instead of just locking it up for the Rogue's to retrieve on their next jail break. Unfortunately that is lost in this one shot by a crusading daughter trying to protect tiny towns across America by killing people on Ollie's island.
Writing – 5
Art – 5
Overall - 5
Recap: The Green Lantern Abin Sur is sent to Earth to collect the White Entity. He instead detours to try to help save the Earth from global war. Meanwhile, his best friend Sinestro finds out that the Flash is the key to rewriting the universe. The two clash with Abin Sur the victor. The Guardians reward by expelling him from the Corps. With no powers, Abin dies in battle but is resurrected by the very White Entity he failed to retrieve.
Analysis: One of the fastest reads of the Flashpoint minis. Nothing in it really makes it an Abin Sur story as any heroic Green Lantern could have substituted as the lead.
Writing – 5
Art – 5
Overall – 5
Recap: Professor Zoom simply cannot stand the Flash. But everytime he tries to kill him he fails. He gets the iodea then of killing him before he becomes the Flash – however the McFly principal kicks in and if he ever succeeded he would cease to exist. So, Barry has to become the Flash, but, he doesn't have to have a happy life before he gets there. Experimenting, Zoom discovers he can alter history slightly so he uses this ability to erase young Barry's only childhood friend from ever existing steal. Seeing how miserable this makes Barry, Zoom sets his goal higher and kills Barry's mother.
Anaylsis: This one shot is basically just a continuation from Flash #8 (which was much better than this).
Writing – 6
Art – 5
Overall – 5.5
Recap: Test pilot Hal Jordan knows how to fly a plane but nothing else seems to work out for him. He loves fellow pilot Carol Ferris but his highball antics keep from admitting this to her with honesty. Pushing his engineers to the limits with his unconventional flying he's about to be grounded when he spys an alien craft falling from space. Hal finds the ship after it crashes and discovers the alien Green Lantern Abin Sur inside. Being the first (public) person to discover alien life he gets his 15 minutes of fame (which is cut short by the Amazon/Atlantean War). He and Ferris Aircraft are drafted and Hal gets the nod to fly a massive bomb straight down the Amazons throat. Flanked by his flybuddies (and Carol), they meet some gigantic resistance with most everyone being killed. Hal radios Carol that she needs to get out of there as he's about to drop the bomb on the force field that protect Great Britain, which is his plan, but it isn't the whole truth (there's a malfunction and Hal intends to detonate the bomb by kamikazing himself, the plane and the bomb - which he does).
Analsyis: Uneven at times, for all the emotion this series tried to instill in the Hal/Carol story, the one image I'm going to take for a while is Giganta smashing planes.
Writing – 5
Art – 7
Overall - 6
The Caterbury Cricket
Recap: Jeremy Criqui is just a college kid in England when the Amazons attack. A coward by nature he throws his girlfriend into dangers way so he can flee. In a church he prays and the building explodes, with him relatively unscathed. Then he spies a lone cricket and he is somehow transformed in a cricket human hybrid. With amazing cricket powers he encounters a group of freedom fighters and together they try to stop the Amazons.
Analysis: This was the one book I was looking forward to the most. I expected it to be a lighthearted introduction to a rather silly character. Instead we get a selfish prick who somehow gets powers and then somehow decides to use them for good. Very disappointing.
Writing – 3
Art – 10
Overall – 6.5
The World of Flashpoint
Recap: Traci Thirteen and her father are spirited away by Traci's burgeoning magical powers seconds before a colossal tidal wave strike her home of Paris killing everyone including her mother and brothers. Over the next 8 months she, tries to learn her powers all the time her father looks on in seeming disgust (because she didn't save his wife and sons as well as him). As the distance between father and daughter grows, Traci discovers that her father is part of a plan to attack the Amazons and Atlanteans by satellite death ray. Full of hope for a better way to end the war than by killing millions of people, Traci tries to stop her father and fails. Injured she flees and then pushing her powers to the limit she travels the world looking for anyone to help her. She meets only rejection.
Determined to stop her father herself, she again visits him only to find out he's learned some magic himself (the dark kind). The two battle and Traci finally convinces her Dad there has to be a better way. With only seconds to spare, he gets himself to the satellite and destroys it. His powers are now drained and he is about to die in space when Traci uses up the very last of her magic to rescue him, The two, now forever depowered, walk off in the sunset.
Analysis: Like Kid Flash, I feel this mini missed out on an opportunity to spend more than just half an issue exploring the world they are in (especially since that was the mini's title). I feel cheated that it was a 'happy' ending knowing that the war still waged. But in the end – any Traci 13 is a good thing.
Writing – 6
Art – 7
Overall – 6.5
Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown
Recap: Victor Franken's monster is found frozen in the North Atlantic by some US soldiers. He wakes in time to save one GI from a Nazi attack for it seems that this monster who has taken the name of his creator doesn't like evil and will fight a never ending battle to defeat it. Allying himself with the US military, Frankenstein joins the war effort against Hitler. He joined by a collection of humans altered into monsters by the military to become the Creatures (vampire, wolfman and sea monster). Together they romp and stomp across Europe and succeed in ending the war by actually killing Hitler. Their reward is to be betrayed by military and placed into suspended hibernation.
Events in Flashpoint lead to them accidently being awakened into current times. Hunted, Frank and the gang seek out the scientist that created the Creatures, finding him in a remote village in the Alps. Attacked by their former captives, Velco (the vampire) sacrifices himself to save Frank (who had just recently re-met his Bride after a Century). The gang defeats their hunters with most either dead or now retired that left Frank alone to join the new war effort against the Amazons and Atlanteans.
Analysis: What I thought was going to be a dark mini was really a lot of fun. The Creatures Commandos were a must read of mine back when I first started reading comics so there was a lot of nostalgia seeing them again. I'm not a fan of this Frankenstein though – all he is a Hulk with scars.
Writing – 7
Art – 7
Overall - 7
Legion of Doom
Recap: Heatwave is a pyromaniac. He loves fire so much he wants to become fire and in his mind the quickest way to do that is to force himself into the Firestorm matrix. He kills Jason but is captured by Cyborg afterwards. Convicted he's sent to death row in a flying prison. He quickly makes enemies amongst the other prisoners. On the day he gets a new roommate, the cellmate convulses in pain and dies while regurgitating Eel O'Brien (don't call him Plastic Man) who was muled in to aid Heatwave in an escape attempt.
Getting other cons in on the escape, O'Brien uses his powers to help take control of the jail. Heatwave then exacts some personal (quite violent) revenge on some people who had slighted him in the past and then sets his sights on his ultimate target – he knows he can't defeat Cyborg but he can destroy Cyborg's hometown of Detroit by crashing the ship into it. O'Brien isn't willing to go that far and tries to stop Heatwave but is melted to death when he attacks. Meanwhile Cyborg is below in the city and tries to stop the ship from crashing (he succeeds in getting it to land in the Detroit River but he used all his power to do so). Heatwave then goes toe to toe with the weakened hero but through sheer will, Cyborg triumphs and heatwave is caught and sent to a different jail.
Heatwave later gets a new cellmate who dies while muling in a now very pissed off Plastic Man.
Analysis: This story doesn't really follow any of the actual Flashpoint events, but it is a nice diversion to see the world from a Pre-war villains point of view. The use of Plastic Man is simply gross (but effective).
Art – 7
Overall - 7
Recap: Citizen Cold is loved by the public and he uses that admiration every chance he can get – but sooner or later , someone is going to figure out he's really a piece of scum guy behind those Foster Grants (as cameraman Wally West discovers before Cold kills him). Meanwhile, the Rogues attempt to take Cold out only to fail horrifically. Iris West uncovers the truth and stops Cold cold.
Analysis: This was a fun romp and Cold stomped his way through Central City. His unrequited love for Iris was generic with the ending easy to spot.
Writing – 6
Art – 8
Overall - 7
Grodd of War
Recap: Gorilla Grodd has taken the African continent and he will do whatever he wants with it. He's in charge but all he cares about is further battle. He knows he has traitors acting as trusted advisors, but that all right by him (because it'll keep things interesting). Whether it be ripping Congorilla limb from limb, giving Catman a spineectomy or making little boys into hardened killers, Grodd just smiles through it all. And his next challenge – he wants Europe and no simple war between the Amazons and Atlanteans is going to keep it from him.
Anaylsis: This one shot should have been a mini. The look into Grodd's psychology is revelaing and disturbing.
Art – 7
Overall – 7.5
Recap: Michael Desai has chiseled skin colored ash-white and an attitude of superiority. Born and raised in India, when he was a young man he orchestrated a take over of the Calcultta mobs. This started him on his path of power as he rose to position where he practically began running the country and more.
He made enemies along the ways and with his hands now affecting world politics and social affairs, he is brutally lethal with all that oppose him. With his vast bankroll, he has one of the most effective organizations in the world. If he wants a device that allows him to depower isias and Black Adam – he'll get one. If he wants to frame Mr & Mrs Terrific because they opposed him, consider them framed and incarcerated. The one enemy he can never quite get rid of though is Blackout and the Desai (the Outsider) will spare no expense in locating him.
When he does finally find him, he sets up a nice ambush that goes wrong when the Outsider discovers it's really Blackout at but rather J'Onn J'Onzz (an alien that the Outsider had captured, tortured and sold to the Russians who tortured him even more). J'Onn is looking for revenge and plans to kill the Outsider but is killed himself when a device the Outsider was carrying cut the Martian in two. Before he died, J'Onn had revealed that he was aided by a side in the Atlantean/Amazon war. Knowing that at least one side wants him dead, the Outsider (selfishly) decides to join Cyborg team to help stop the war.
Analysis: Wow. Who'd have thunk that a throwaway character from the early 60's could end up being such a detailed character. He's like an opposite Batman (but one who publicly uses corporations and people whereas Bats does that in secret). This mini left me wanting more.
Writing – 8
Art – 8
Overall - 8
Lois Lane and the Resistance
Recap: Lois Lane, Reporter, is in London covering a minor story when Great Britain is attacked by the Amazons. Captured she and thousands of others are processed and sent to either prisons, intermit camps or training facilities if they (women only) are deemed worthy. Lois is sent to the latter and is forced to undergo 'training'. She however was able to sneak a device that let he act as a spy for Cyborg. When her moment comes she escapes and is quickly hunted down. Thankfully she runs into some resistance fighters and together they make their getaway.
A key to (hopefully) stopping the Amazons is find a suit of armor designed for one of the freedom fighters. Members fall, others betray the group, while others still fight on despite the hopelessness. Through perseverance, the heroes make their way to the suit and Britannia, fully powered up charges into battle. Britannia is met by Wonder Woman who discovers the horrors done to the people of Britain in her name. Meanwhile, Lois finds some broadcasting equipment and sends a message out to the world of what the Amazons have done during their occupation. Unbeknownst to her, two Amazons, weapons drawn sneak behind her intending to shoot her. The scene changes a shot of the London skyline as a "boom" is heard.
Analysis: This book is a great side piece to the Aquaman/Wonder Woman titles as so much that happens there unfolds here (and vice versa). I wish I had read this book earlier than the others as it would have been nice to 'see' Lois killed at the end of it. Instead I read Project Superman first to find he survives the Amazon attack.
Writing – 8
Art – 8
Overall - 8
Batman: Knight of Vengeance
Recap: Thomas Wayne is the Batman and when DA Harvey Dent's kids are kidnapped by the Joker, he must find them. Jim Gordon and Oracle aid in the search with Gordon getting killed by the Joker after Gordon mistakenly shoots one of the very children he was attempting to rescue. Batman enters and faces the Joker down and confronts her with the truth behind her madness – that she is actually his wife Martha, driven mad by the loss of their son Bruce to a mugger years before.
Analysis: Another one that I am sad ended so quick. Thomas as the Batman is so much more interesting than Bruce.
Writing – 9
Art – 8
Overall – 8.5
Recap: Lt Sinclair volunteers for a top secret assignment that is to alter him into a super-man. The treatments work – maybe too well, as his leaders begin to get paranoid about Sinclair's abilities. Unknown to his 'jailers' Sinclair has developed heightened senses that allows him to see and hear things while in his 'cage'. After years of training, the military finally get around to allowing Sinclair out on a mission to check his effectiveness. He's a success as he completed the mission, but he unknowingly killed his own support team in the process. The military created a monster – now if they can only reel him back.
It's around this time that a rocket hits Metropolis killing thousands. Inside the rocket is a baby survivor from an alien world. The same military that created Sinclair obtains the infant and raise him in a lab. Over the next few years the infants grows into a boy (whom it's determined is named Kal). Kal spends his early years in constant experimentation in a cold sterile environment. Sinclair is able to watch all this from afar and he finally decides to act and rescue the boy (who is in his own escape attempt teams up with a young Lois Lane). Sinclair is stopped by General Lane who sacrifices himself to plunge the both of them into the Phantom Zone. Kal is recaptured.
Years later, Cyborg, Batman and others break the boy (now older) out themselves, but during their mission they cause a power outage that release Sinclair and Lane from the Zone. Sinclair is solid again and his first act is to kill General Lane and then he sets about finding and killing Kal (he's quite insane by now).
Kal meanwhile, flies to London where he meets up with the now older Lois Lane (who has been part of the Amazon resistance). Sinclair finds them and begins a brutal battle with the young adult Kal. In time Sinclair's power is too much for himself and he no longer can control his energies. Kal uses this moment to strike and kill Sinclair. Somewhere in the fight, Lois gets hit fatally and with her dying words, she begs Kal to save people everywhere. Kal is then determined to be the man, the superman, Lois wanted him to be.
Analysis: This mini was deep as it covered decades. My recap didn't even have room to mention all the other things going on in it (like the other experiments the military was doing (that we've seen results of in various other minis)). Only two things in this mini were slightly disappointing... 1) Sinclair's hair was managastupid (sorry Gene) and 2) Lois's death (not that she died but that she looks fine enough in one panel and then she's basically dead in the next).
Writing – 8
Art – 9
Overal – 8.5
Emperor Aquaman & Wonder Woman and the Furies
Recap: Two hidden races reveal themselves and young Aquaman and Wonder Woman have an affair that lead to a wedding that can unite both peoples. Behind the scenes, Arthur & Diana's most trusted friends secretly plot against the union. At the wedding, Diana's mother is murdered and Aquaman's friend Garth is framed. War between them follows quickly.
With Themyscria in ruins, the Amazons seize Great Britain as their new home. When Mera attempts to kill Diana she is instead beheaded by Wonder Woman. When Arthur finds this out, he okays the use of geo weapon (a captured Brion Markov (Geo-Force)) that is to sink Great Britain, instead the Amazons use Brion's sister Tara to save GB (and doom western Europe to a massive flood).
Finally Arthur and Diana meet anew and battle fiercely. Diana had previously uncovered the truth behind the plotting and frame-up that caused their war, but Arthur's grief over Diana killing Mera is too great. Instead of turning left to stop the geo-force weapon from quite likely destroying the world, he turns right and goes after his personal vengeance
Analysis: These two mini's have more drama, intrigue and depth than any other book running this summer. Simply fantastic stuff.
Writing – 9
Art – 9
Overall – 9
On a whole, putting all of these mini's together made for a very well-conceived world over numerous titles. Minor things that happened in one book had consequences in another and you only really noticed them when read as one. For instance, it you didn't need to read Green Arrow Industries to understand that the nuke in Hal Jordan was made there or that the reason why the Justice Society never formed in WWII (in Frankenstein) was because Bart stole Jay Garrick's connection to the Speed Force (in Kid Flash), or that military programs featured in Booster Gold and Frankenstein get their origins explained in casual mentions in Project Superman, etc.
All but two books were really independent enough that they held their own. The two that needed each other were also the two best minis of the bunch (Aquaman and Wonder Woman).
There were some infractions here and there (like how Iris West is young in Citizen Cold and older in Kid Flash) but overall this Flashpoint reality is a very cohesive universe and my hats off to the editors for making it so tight.
Is this the best alt-reality story of them all? No, but for its richness, depth and cohesiveness, it's infinitely better than most.
Review by: Jerry Steinhelper
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