Monday, June 27, 2011

Flashpoint EXPRESSions - Week of June 22nd

Seeing as how I picked up three of the four Flashpoint tie-in books for the past week, I figured I might as well spend some time offering up my thoughts on the issues.  Although there's nothing quite so nearly as offensive as Grodd of War #1 from the week before, there also wasn't any particularly impressive books on tap either.  However, even though none of the books managed to blow me away, it doesn't mean they didn't necessarily have some moments of brilliance.  Well, maybe it does.

Let's see how it all shook out, shall we?

Flashpoint - Kid Flash Lost #1
Written by: Sterling Gates
Art by: Oliver Nome

I really enjoyed Sterling Gates' run on Supergirl, finding his work with the Girl of Steel to be well-written, honest, and original.  Unfortunately, those qualities seem to be mostly absent from Kid Flash Lost #1, making for a comic that offers a number of almost interesting plot threads that don't quite hold together and are, on the whole, surprisingly derivative.

The main thrust of the issue is that Kid Flash has somehow been sent into the 31st century (the century he's originally from), but everything is different and he is cut off from the Speed Force (presumably due to all the timeshifting going on in Flashpoint itself).  Not a terrible premise, but Gates doesn't really do anything with it. For some reason, in this altered future Brainiac has long since taken control of Earth and seems to be in the habit of imprisoning people in a virtual reality representation of the 21st century to use their life force as a source of energy.  If that sounds eerily like the plot of The Matrix, it's because that's exactly what this is.  Kid Flash actually comments "I think I saw this movie with Conner."

So for reasons unexplained, Kid Flash has found himself living The Matrix and his only ally is Hot Pursuit, the character introduced in Geoff Johns' recent run on The Flash.  However, for reasons that are barely touched on, Hot Pursuit is no longer an alternate-Earth version of the Flash.  In fact, Hot Pursuit is no longer even a man.  Apparently Penny Spivot, a minor character who showed up in The Flash #12 somehow got her hands on the suit and the time travelling device and is now also in the 31st century?  Again, for reasons that are barely touched on.

Eventually, Kid Flash realizes that the past has changed, and if he doesn't get back to the past soon, he will disappear from existence.  Yeah, the comic also lifts from Back to the Future ("I saw this movie with Cassie," Kid Flash mentions).  Additionally, Brainiac, in his short appearance, talks exactly like HK-47 from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.  For no reason.

At the end of the issue, I had no interest in reading anymore of this story.  I can understand how Kid Flash's current plight could be interesting and suspenseful, but the sheer amount of borrowing from other works from popular culture done in this issue kills any momentum it could have created.  I spent most of the issue wondering why it would lift things so blatantly for no discernible reason.  These references are made, explained, and then left.  I know that Sterling Gates can write better comics than this, which is perhaps the most disappointing part.

Flashpoint - Lois Lane and the Resistance #1
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by: Eddie Nunez

After reading Abnett and Lanning's take on the Amazon-Atlantis conflict in last week's Wonder Woman and the Furies #1, I was interested to see how the story would play out from the perspective of civilians trying to resist their Amazonian overlords.  While I enjoyed the comic, it wasn't quite what I was expecting.

For one thing, the advertised "Resistance" barely shows up at all.  Instead, we get a comic that focuses on how Lois Lane accidentally ends up in Amazonian internment camps in New Themyscira (England, which the Amazons have taken over in the Flashpoint universe).  During this stint, she secretly becomes an agent for Cyborg, tasked with discovering the local Resistance and opening a dialogue with them.  However, no one from said group appears in the comic until the second last page, and even then, their arrival is out of the blue and left unexplained for the moment.  It's kind of misleading, is what I'm trying to say.

For all that, it was a decent story.  I suppose it's interesting to see a Lois Lane who, without Clark Kent / Superman, lacks both a rival and a love interest, but I feel like more could have been done with that scenario.  As well, I think the comic could have moved a little faster and done with a little less exposition, but I suppose first issues are supposed to set up the status quo of the story.  It's just kind of a shame when the story is only going to last three issues.

My biggest complaint about Lois Lane and the Resistance #1 is the art.  It's not bad, per se, but it really doesn't appeal to me.  I found Nunez's work to be a little too cartoony and a little too influenced by comics of the 90s.  A lot of the characters were virtually identical, aside from their clothing and hair.  This problem was especially noticeable with a number of the women characters.  Not only that, but the comic seems to subscribe to the somewhat reigning theory that all women must be depicted with crazy-exaggerated physiques.  Almost every single lady had a near impossible hour glass figure, complete with large breasts and wide hips, that is pretty ridiculous.  Certainly this isn't the only comic guilty of providing a single representation of the female form, but just because the practice is common doesn't mean I have to accept it.

I might come back for issue 2 of this mini-series, but like Wonder Woman and the Furies #1, Abnett and Lanning have once again failed to really entice me.  I'd been waiting to see what they could do in the DCU for so long, and I haven't really enjoyed anything they've offered thus far.  Unfortunate, to be certain.

Flashpoint - The Outsider #1
Written by: James Robinson
Art by: Javi Fernandez

I'm starting to feel a bit like a broken record, but I didn't much care for The Outsider #1 either.  This series focuses on (as you may have guessed) the enigmatic Outsider character who has been showing up in various Flashpoint books with little to no explanation.  While Robinson and Fernandez offer a glimpse into a lot of neat ideas and concepts in this issue, it feels like they're only asking more questions, without offering any answers.  There is certainly a lot of potential within this issue, but I don't really come out of the comic caring about the Outsider or the world around him.

The issue opens with a pretty nifty flashback providing a bit of the "Secret Origin" of the Outsider, including the death of hundreds of thousands upon his birth.  This sequence is really well done and gives the reader an idea of the power the Outsider possesses (or could possess), but it doesn't really explain what that power is.  Instead, we get a scene of him in the present that takes place in his ultra-high tech lair.  Again, it all looks kind of cool, but I'm not quite sure what the point of it all is.  The comic is very insistent on the fact that the Outsider is powerful, incredibly intelligent, and has a lot of enemies, but it seems a bit less certain on the why or how of any of these questions.

It's strange, because a lot actually goes on in this issue (on top of the "Secret Origin", there's a scene of the Outsider planning some stuff, and an attack by a few of his enemies, among other things), but it doesn't feel like any of it matters.  I'm not referring to mattering to continuity when I say that.  I simply mean that because this comic offers so little concrete information about the Outsider or what he's doing, it's hard to consider any of the details or events within it as important.  They're just things that happened, but they lack any meaning associated with them.

Holding things back from the reader isn't necessarily a bad thing, but The Outsider #1 shows some possible negative consequences if it isn't handled correctly.  Due to its insistence on mystery and keeping the reader in the dark, the issue robs itself of any possible weight or poignancy.  Instead, we just get an issue where a bunch of stuff happens for seemingly no reason.  Certainly there is a lot of potential for future issues, but this issue doesn't offer any concrete reason to pick up those subsequent comics, and I probably won't.

So, as you can see, this past week's crop of Flashpoint books didn't make for the most exciting reading.  They weren't bad, but they also weren't really that good.  Kind of disappointing to go through three mediocre books, but on the plus side, it's good news for my wallet, because I won't have to pick up the rest of these series.


  1. Once again, we find ourselves at the complete different end of the spectrum. My favourites from this week (in Flashpoint tie-ins) are, in order: Outsider, Reverse-flash, kid flash and Lois Lane. I had to force myself to read the Lois Lane one, as it bored me to death. I just couldn't quite get into it, no matter how many times I tried. It's been the worse tie-in so far, in my opinion. The Outsider, I read 3 times.

    I think in the end, it will be hard to judge the series (3 shots) until they are done and one can look at the whole story as a hit or miss. I have a lot of trouble rating a comic based on a third of the story, even though it SHOULD be complete.

    In this day in age, it rarely is.

  2. P.s. I forgot to write in my initial point: Great reviews!