Flashpoint #5, the comic that acts as the catalyst to herald in a new age of prosperity (hopefully) for the entire DC Universe has arrived. This is the book that will (supposedly) explain exactly what transpires that leads to the altered timeline and history of the new DC Universe (DCnU). I’m not so attached to the classic DCU that I have a problem with it being altered, so long as it’s done in-story with care and tact. Unfortunately, this is not that story. This comic was unspeakably awful and offensive. In general I break my reviews into sections detailing the right and the wrong of a subject, but I’ll forgo that formality here since the vast majority of the topics I’ll be touching upon here would be lumped straight into “The Ridiculous”. Massive spoilers follow.
The secret twist to “Flashpoint” is finally revealed in this climactic issue: The Reverse Flash is not the villain of this story–The Flash is. Barry Allen, a hero who has literally been involved in dozens if not over a hundred time-travel storylines, decided to travel back in time to stop his mother’s murder and inadvertently and unknowingly shattered his own timeline and reality.
Let that sink in.
That’s right, the DC Superhero who next to Booster Gold should best know all of the dangers of altering the timestream, screwed up reality when he suddenly decided he could no longer cope with life without his mother, who had been dead since his childhood. Barry Allen, the “boyscout” forensic scientist cop, who believes in law and order above all else and is vehemently opposed to killing, wiped out his marriage, his kids, and everything and everyone he ever knew in the world in order to save the life of his long-dead mother.
To put it mildly, I don’t believe in this “plot twist”. The concept that Barry Allen would be so selfish, stupid, and reckless as to destroy his own timeline to save his mom is quite frankly unbelievable. We’ve followed the majority of Barry Allen’s life through decades of comic books, and he has never, ever appeared to be a man so traumatized by and obsessed with his mother’s murder that he would throw away his entire life and world to bring her back regardless of the circumstances surrounding her death. That’s the notion that this entire story is built upon, and I simply do not accept it, and this entire story fails as a result of it. Geoff Johns is one of my favorite writers, but I won’t blindly accept something completely out-of-character just because he’s written it. And unfortunately, that’s not the only problem with this comic book.
As an ending to the Flashpoint universe, this is anticlimactic and unsatisfying. Aquaman and Wonder Woman do not receive any sort of comeuppance for their genocidal misdeeds, the S!H!A!Z!A!M! kids and Cyborg that such a big deal were made of have absolutely no role in the end of this series, and the world sorta maybe seems to come to an end in the background during a conversation between The Flash and a dying Thomas Wayne Batman. I felt nothing as this world ended and I doubt anyone else did either, as the amount of effort put into making readers care for this world was non-existent. Much like The Flash’s own feelings for the Flashpoint universe, all readers were ever made to care about is seeing it undone.
I was one of the people really excited for Flashpoint, so I ordered about half of the many tie-in series. Evidently, I picked the wrong ones to follow, though, because none of the series I read ended up having any relevancy to the main series. Some threads from a couple of the complementary miniseries are addressed here poorly, but most won’t be mentioned or addressed at all (as is the case with “Kid Flash Lost”, which for all intents and purposes should have directly factored into the climax of this story).
A big problem with having so many satellite miniseries that aren’t strongly tied to the main book is pretty evident when supposed “big moments” happen that are completely lost on readers0 not reading all the side-stories. We’re “treated” to a double-splash-page of Grifter and the Resistance entering the fray, but I don’t know why this is supposed to be such a huge moment worthy of a double splash-page because those characters haven’t been mentioned beyond a panel or two in the entire series. It doesn’t really matter though, because Grifter literally dies two panels later when he gets blown up by The Enchantress, another character who must have been introduced in a spin-off I didn’t read because I sure don’t remember her being in the main book. The Enchantress was actually one of the high points of this issue, however. I don’t know exactly who she was or why she was there, but boy, it sure was cool when Superman fell out of the sky onto her and she exploded.
I’ve read several reviews by people who were touched by the ending pages of the series featuring conversations between Barry Allen and his mother and The Flash and Batman. I wasn’t. The whole thing rang hollow to me. I understand why these moments should have been dramatic, character-focused ones, but I was so let down and disappointed by everything preceding them that this last-second attempt to pull at my heart-strings just didn’t succeed.
As an ending to the classic DC universe, well… this just isn’t. If you’re looking for any closure or resolution of any kind involving any character whatsoever, you’re not going to get it here. This may be the last story set in the classic DC Universe, but for all intents and purposes this story only exists to catalyze the DCnU and has zero to do with the classic DCU other than undoing it.
Even as an explanation for the creation of the DCnU, this book fails to be compelling or sensible. It seemed pretty obvious to me all along how Flashpoint would end and how the DCnU would be created (or so I thought): I imagined that Barry Allen would go back into the timestream to set things right, but his failing memory would prevent him from getting everything perfect and ultimately lead to an altered timeline. And while we do get Barry Allen entering the timestream, what I didn’t imagine was an omniscient feminine mystery entity who says some cryptic mumbo-jumbo and–presto!–DCnU.
Overall: This is without question the worst thing I have ever read written by Geoff Johns, and a travesty as an “event” story meant to relaunch the entire DC Universe. The actions by Barry Allen are not believable, and as a result the whole story falls flat. Characters die, the world comes to an end, and yet no one cares because this whole story and universe have been soulless from the start. The last couple pages with the Flash and Batman talking are probably the high point of this entire series, so out of respect for those few pages I’m tacking a “+” onto the only grade I can give a complete clusterfuck of a comic like Flashpoint #5: a failing one.