Flashpoint #5 Review
- Published on Thursday, 01 September 2011 04:24
- Written by Kevin
This is it. The clock has struck 12 o’clock as the end of one DC Universe has arrived to set the stage for a new DC Universe to rise. After months of hype, Flashpoint #5 arrived on the store shelves for a midnight release. The expectations and pressure on Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert for this final issue is huge as there is still plenty of things to wrap up in the story itself before the DCnU to launches. Can Johns and Kubert rise to the occasion to give a proper send off to a 20 year old universe and proper start to a new one? Let’s find out with Flashpoint #5.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Andy Kubert
Inkers: Sandra Hope and Jesse Delperdang
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the aftermath of Billy Batson’s explosion, Wonder Woman and Aquaman’s army’s continue their war with Cyborg and his group of heroes. In the middle of all the chaos, Reverse Flash reveals to Flash that it is Barry’s fault that the universe has changed.
Reverse Flash grabs Flash and, through the Speed Force, shows how Barry used the speed treadmill to travel to the past and stop Reverse Flash from killing his mom. By doing this one action Barry caused the changes to occur making him the true villain behind everything, not Reverse Flash.
Flash tries to attack him but Reverse Flash is able to dodge all the attacks. Batman even gets involved but is quickly taken down by Reverse Flash.
After beating Flash some more, Reverse Flash goes on to say that Barry going back to the past also helped Reverse Flash become a time paradox. This means he no longer needs Flash to exist in order to still be around. In all his gloating, Reverse Flash does not realize that he was standing still which gave Batman the chance to drive a sword through his chest and knocking him out of the battle.
With the war between the Amazon and Atlantis still intensifying, the Resistance finally makes their appearance. Though the Resistance helps, Enchantress is able to kill a couple of them and she fatally wounds Batman.
At that moment, Superman finally makes his grand re-appearance by quickly killing Enchantress and knocking out Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
As things continue to get worse, the ground begins shaking with all that is going on. Before everyone dies, Batman hands Flash a letter and tells him to make things right.
After taking the note, Flash runs to his mother’s house. Barry reveals everything to his mom. In a heartfelt moment, Barry’s mom tells him to make things right and that he should not worry about her as she will be with his dad. After one final hug Barry takes off.
Flash enters the Speed Force and is able to catch his past self who is trying to stop Reverse Flash from killing his mom. After stopping his past self from changing the world, Flash continues to run. As he is running a mysterious figure appears to reveal that Flash must bring the three universes (DC Universe, Wildstorm, Vertigo) back as one.
Flash finally reaches the end and next thing he knows Barry wakes up in the middle of his job. Barry’s co-workers ask him if he is okay and he says he is.
Barry quickly decides to change back into Flash and head over to the Batcave. He meets Batman (Bruce Wayne) and reveals everything he just went through. Bruce tells Flash that he cannot blame Barry for what he did as he might have done the same with Flash’s powers. Barry says that through everything he remembered everything that happened. Bruce says that Barry should look at the memories as a present.
Barry then hands Bruce the letter from Thomas Wayne. Bruce reads it and falls backwards in his chair in happiness. Taking off his cowl and with tears in his eyes Bruce thanks Barry. He then tells Barry “You’re one hell of a messenger. Thank you, Barry.” End of issue.
The Good: With everything I have said about Flashpoint in previous reviews, I will honestly say this was the best issue of the whole event. Though that does not say much since I have not been impressed by what Geoff Johns has done with Flashpoint. Johns inserts the emotion that has been missing from the past four issues. At the same time, Flashpoint #5 does read like a “by the numbers” ending instead of a truly satisfying and epic ending to the final event of the 20+ year old DC Universe.
In a similar fashion of how Johns was able to flesh out Hal Jordan’s past with his father, Johns is able to give us a reason to feel some attachment to Barry’s relationship with his mother. One of my biggest complaints about Barry being the main Flash again is that there has been a lack of attachment to the character. Since returning, Barry has had a one-note personality with the typical superhero voice. The character has not had that one thing where I want to keep learning about him as I have with many other comic book characters.
That is until now. Johns did a great job with Barry’s relationship with his mother. The reader is able to understand why Barry has the type of heroic attitude he does. Even though Barry’s past actions caused the world to change, it is understandable that Barry would use his powers to stop Reverse Flash from killing his mother. Given that kind of power any child would try to change a horror that happened in their past. This is something even Bruce Wayne would do.
I loved the letter Thomas gave to Barry to deliver to Bruce. This continued the emotional ties that Johns set up with this issue. It was the best scene of the whole series since out of all the characters in Flashpoint, even more so than Barry, Johns fleshed out Thomas Wayne’s character the most. Thomas is the one character from the beginning of the event that I was interested in following. The character was given a lot of depth as the event moved forward and the letter to Bruce was a great close to his character.
As the case has been for this whole event, Andy Kubert continued to deliver high quality art. There were some points of the issue that the art did look rushed but even those points still looked good. The art popped out of the pages as Kubert was given plenty of action to draw as the Wonder Woman/Aquaman war raged on. And the way he draws the Flash and Reverse Flash in motion was great. There is power and speed to the characters' powers which is how it should be for those characters.
The Bad: Though Flashpoint #5 showed improvement over the previous four issues, the same problems continued to exist in the final issue. As I said in my opening, Flashpoint #5 reads like a “by the numbers” ending were Geoff Johns had certain points he had to hit from his outline and in doing so continued to sacrifice the actual story he was telling.
Because of this by the numbers approach, Johns gave us little reason to care about everything outside of Thomas Wayne and the scene between Barry and his mom. Even as the world of Flashpoint was on the point of destruction there is not a reason to really care about the world dying after Batman’s death. There is no connection to the characters in this world since Johns treated all of them, outside of Thomas and Barry, as mere plot devices to set up the new DC Universe.
A perfect example of this is the Resistance. In the entire five issue event, The Resistance, made up of a combination of Wildstorm and DC characters, appeared in a total of three pages. Johns never gave us a reason to care for the characters' cause other than telling us that Wonder Woman and Aquaman were the bad guys.
It is made even worse that only two panels after their grand splash page appearance two of the members are killed off. So not only am I not given a reason to care for these characters but when they do die I just continued to read the issue as if nothing happened. I just was not affected by anything that happened.
The same thing goes for how poorly develop the whole war between Wonder Woman and Aquaman has been. Throughout the event, Johns has placed an importance on this war being a big deal but at the end Johns paid little attention to develop either side of the war.
With this being a war between two of the Big Seven in the DCU, both characters were treated as nothing more than a backdrop to waste a couple pages each issue in a thin story. Neither character, nor the characters that were part of their armies, were fleshed out.
Honestly, the way Johns treated both Aquaman and Wonder Woman he could have simply replaced both characters with some new random characters and it would be the same story, same result and same impact on the reader. There is nothing at all distinctive about either Aquaman or Wonder Woman.
Instead of adding to the story their war felt like a big waste of time since at the end of Flashpoint their war did not matter at all. The war's only purpose was to show the differences in the Flashpoint universe. It could have been easily replaced by any sort of situation and it would have the same outcome for the end of the story.
Then there is the biggest plot device of them all: Reverse Flash. The character served absolutely no purpose other than being Geoff Johns voiceover. The character’s whole purpose was to end the story and nothing else. He was not a threat at all to what was going on and only appears for half the issue. If it was not for his evil laugh, Reverse Flash would just look like a Flash cosplayer who mistakenly dyed his costume yellow instead of red.
Barry Allen is a character that I have very little knowledge of and my knowledge of Reverse Flash is even worse. Instead of Johns using this opportunity to show readers why their rivalry can match Batman and Jokers, Superman and Lex Luthor or Hal Jordan and Sinester, Johns simply treats the characters as shallow plot devices. The only role for either character is to lead to the launch of the new DC Universe. Coming out of this confrontation I have no interest whatsoever to read another clash between these two characters. Reverse Flash came out looking like a punk who can be easily distracted and defeated since he only appeared for half the issue before being “killed” by Thomas Wayne.
At the end of the whole event, Flashpoint is yet another example of Geoff Johns being one of the best world builders in the business but one of the worst when it comes to developing the characters within the world he creates. Just like previous events, Johns overly relied on other tie-ins to develop the characters that inhabit the world he builds. By doing this, it makes Flashpoint look like nothing more than a roadtrip around the Flashpoint universe instead of reading like a true story.
Everything the reader may be interested in reading about such as the Aquaman/Wonder Woman War and Superman being a skinny emo dude is told in other books that will cost the reader another $20. As a professional writer when you cannot tell a full story within your book than there is something wrong with your outline.
Because of these problems it made Johns look like he rushed through creating a quick story because his bosses told him he needed to write something that would relaunch the whole universe instead of being a story that was a natural progression of what he has been writing in his books. And I hate saying this because Geoff Johns is one of my favorite comic book writers but when the story is this weak my love for previous work will not keep me quiet about the present defects.
Overall: Though Flashpoint #5 added so much needed emotional ties to what was going on, these elements could not hide the overall weak story by Geoff Johns. As with Blackest Night, Johns seemed to be overwhelmed by everything Flashpoint was supposed to accomplish which caused the story to suffer. Outside of Barry Allen and Thomas Wayne, there was nothing about the story that was developed enough to make the reader care about the Flashpoint Universe.
Rather than being treated as actual characters, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the rest of Flashpoint citizens were written as nothing more than plot devices. Even the supposed “big bad” of the event in Reverse Flash was nothing more than Geoff Johns inserting himself into the story to give an end to a weak plot. With all of the hype surrounding the new DC Universe, whether good or bad, it is too bad that DC will be slowly limping into their new beginning instead of rushing in with a full set of steam.