Flashpoint, and an era of DC Comics over 75 years in the making, comes to an end. This event has run over the summer and was widely publicized as the game-changer that would tie the old DCU to the DCnU.
The issue opens with Barry Allen being transported to the heart of the battle between the Amazons and the Atlanteans, tussling there with Thawne. Reverse Flash is taking great joy in taunting Barry about the destruction of the world at the hand of his friends. Naturally, Barry wants to know what Thawne did to create this alternate timeline, but instead he learns that he is the villain who did this to the world.
Through flashbacks and painful recalibration of Barry's vibrational frequency, Thawne reveals this timeline only came about because Barry, on his mother's birthday, ran back into time and stopped Thawne from killing his mother. To put it in Thawne's words, "You were like a bullet through a windshield. You shattered history." It was Barry's amateur use of time travel that did this.
Barry finally remembers and attacks Thawne, who declares that it's time to finish this. Batman approaches and tells Barry they need to remove Thawne from the equation. Thawne begins taunting Thomas Wayne, telling him that the Flash is nothing to him anymore. It was an unexpected benefit to all of this. Because Thawne was in the timestream when Barry changed history, he is no longer attached to him in the same way. He no longer needs Barry Allen to have been the Flash to ensure he can become the Reverse Flash in the 25th century. As he stands taunting Barry, Thomas Wayne drives a sword through his heart. He gives him a small bit of doctor's advice: when you're in the middle of a war, don't stand still.
That's when we really begin to take stock of the war raging around them. Various heroes are still fighting each other. The resistance finally shows up and Grifter takes out Atlanteans with bullets through the head. Enchantress, admitting she doesn't care what side she's on as long as she gets to have fun, begins throwing spells around. Just then, as Barry said he would, Superman flies in to save the day. He growls "No more" before knocking Diana and Arthur to the ground.
As Barry crouches over a badly injured Batman, his memories begin coming back to him. Seismic readings begin to indicate the world is going to crack in half, and a boom sounds. Barry tells Batman he can't leave all these people. Batman tells him he must run away in order to correct the world. When Barry asks how he can leave all these people, Batman tells him he has to do it for the same reason he himself is doing it. A better world will take its place. He gives Barry a piece of paper before he dies in the battlefield.
Barry begins to run but is immediately drawn to his mother's house back in America. She finds him on the front lawn and tells him the news is saying this is the end. He admits it is, but only because of him. After he's relayed the story, she admits she finds it hard to believe but tells him he has to focus on himself when he runs, so he can be drawn to the right time. Barry refuses to go because it will mean losing her. She very sternly asks him how many people have died because of this.
She assures him this life won't be erased if he saves everyone else, it will still have existed to him. After another assurance that this is what she wants because she'll be with his father, he begins to run and to catch himself on the cosmic treadmill. Flashpoint Barry stops Regular Barry as a mystery woman tells them both the history of the heroes was shattered into three long ago, splintered to weaken their world for "their" impending arrival. She tells them they must all stand together. The timeline must become one again. Across the page is all three timelines, with the new universe depicted on the right page.
Both Flashes become one again as Barry wakes up at his desk. His co-workers tell him to wake up, and that the director wants them to focus on the here and now rather than cold cases.
Naturally, Barry's first visit is to the Batcave where he tentatively checks if Batman is actually Bruce. He explains what happened to Bruce and reassures him that as far as he can tell, everything is back to normal. Our first clue that it isn't quite back to normal is Batman's crest. It's the standard Bat-symbol as opposed to the Batman Incorporated symbol. Batman tells Barry not to beat himself up, because he would've tried the same thing if he'd had Barry's powers and that he has definitely considered it.
There's one thing still perplexing Barry. As he was in the alternate timeline, his memories of his actual timeline faded every minute he was there. Now that he's back, he can still remember the other timeline as clearly as if it actually happened. He can remember every moment with his mother. As he rattles off a few scientific explanations, Batman tells him that maybe it's just a gift. It could be a gift to make all of this easier.
Barry hands Batman the note Thomas handed him moments before dying. He reads it, slumping in his chair after reading the words "Dear Son, There's only one thing that I know about life. I know some things happen by chance." He removes the cowl and focuses on the bottom words "Love always your father, Thomas." He looks up at Barry with tears streaming down his face and thanks Barry, telling him he's a hell of a messenger.
And that's the end of Flashpoint, and the end of the era I spoke of earlier.
This issue was a difficult one for me to read. It took me a full week to stick together my resolve and see how DC handled the transition. I couldn't be more pleased with it. Though I figured out relatively early that the game-changing moment was likely the prevention of Mrs. Allen's murder, I went into this trying to keep myself free of any expectations.
I enjoyed this issue, particularly the idea of Barry having to let go of his mother to save the world and Thomas letting go of himself to simply save his son. As sad as I am to see the end of the previous storylines, the mystery woman telling them about someone's arrival has me jacked up for the next event that the publishers keep telling us is ages away.
One complaint about the issue is there were a lot of things from the tie-ins that didn't make sense unless you'd read them. Without reading them, you don't understand what's going on with Billy Batson, who the members of the resistance are, Superman being S1, and countless other things.
The art throughout the issue was fantastic. Andy Kubert really knows how to draw the group scenes which are integral to an issue such as this. Equal credit for this goes to Alex Sinclair as the colorist of the issue. Everything that's supposed to pop out at you does.
This single issue was one of the most highly anticipated issues of a comic that I have ever purchased. Straight away I can tell you, when avoidable, don’t go in to anything with high-expectations, be it a comic book, a movie… anything! That’s not to say that this issue was bad, not even to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. What I am trying to get across is that, I was so looking forward to this and so wanting it to be good, that it fell a little flat. Was I just expecting too much of it?
I know for a fact that, for me at least, Justice League #1 left Flashpoint #5 in its shadow. For the record, I much preferred Flashpoint #5 and thought it was a better issue but it was the hype around Justice League and the fact that it was the single issue that would take place in this new universe that made it tower over Flashpoint. Despite how excited for this issue I was, I ended up, near rushing through this book to get to Justice League #1 and I think that was where the feeling of the book being rushed came from.
The book was packed, however, full of information and story threads. I had to remind myself that this whole event has been very ‘new-reader friendly’ so what I sometimes saw as unnecessary was actually just a simplified story-telling device. And that’s what this event was, it was simple.
Perhaps that is why there are people who didn’t enjoy this issue, I can see why the twist at the end could be considered lazy but I thought it was interesting and made more sense than Professor Zoom running through history and changing people’s histories.
Both the writing and art were consistent throughout the series but Kubert’s art is definitely taken to the next level by inker, Sandra Hope so it’s a shame that she wasn’t on the entire series.
As for the controversial scene with Batman and Barry where the note is exchanged, I felt uncomfortable at first because I didn’t know how Batman was going to react but I was pleased with the way it was handled and thought that the emotions were well controlled.
At the end of the day, this mini-series had a target that it set out to achieve and I believe it managed it. It’s set the way for the DCnU and it did it in a non-confusing way which makes enough sense to justify the changes.
As I read issue 5 of Flashpoint, I started to ask myself the question, was that it? Was that the way they were going to pull apart the DC Universe and create DCnU? Was that how the Flashpoint happened? Are you kidding me? This issue was neither garbage nor good; it was in all honesty, just there.
So Zoom’s master plan was that he didn’t have a master plan, he was just hanging out, watching Barry’s life fall apart, I mean sure that’s fun, but he was less super-villain and more a member of the chorus from a Greek tragedy.
Barry is the one who caused Flashpoint, because of his own selfishness, which takes place between Flash #12 and Flashpoint #1. If you didn’t pick up on this, good, neither did I. I had to wait for for the internet to point this out, because it wasn’t really clear. Barry Allen instead of being treated like the gigantic dickhead that he is, is told “Fix what you’ve done…you’ve caused the suffering and death of millions” and responds “I’ll need to go ask my mommy” the savior and killer of the universe everyone!
Barry goes on to fix the timeline, or doesn’t it’s not really made clear to me. It looks like he’s went to DCnU, but then Bruce still looks like DCU Batman, and not DCnU Batman and we’re treated to Barry thinking everything is hunky dory and fine with the world.
To be honest, I didn’t completely hate this comic. The scenes with Thomas Wayne and his final act, and the scenes with Bruce were done so perfectly, and will stand out for me as the best points of this series. Everything else is just a complicated mess.
If you read only one paragraph from this review make it this one:
Do not read Geoff Johns “The Flash” series that started with a Brightest Day tie-in. Do not read any of the Flashpoint tie-in books, as they all fell apart by issue #3, especially Batman. Do not read Flashpoint if you want to read an event comic that actually feels like something important is happening, you’ll be let down. If you want to read some good Flash stories, read Mark Waid’s run, or the recent Flash omnibus starring Wally West that DC has just put out. See Flashpoint done properly, and not be a complicated mess, that to me will go down in history with Battle for the Cowl, and Countdown as one of the worst events DC has ever done.
I have to say it is pretty ironic that DC comics have chosen to revamp or jump start its entire series on the heels of a successful run like we’ve seen in Flashpoint. To deepen the irony it is the Flashpoint series in its entirety that has allowed DC to make this transition. There would be no “New 52” without Flashpoint. DC was having a problem with market share so they felt they needed to make a change. But did they? Flashpoint and its brother title “Knight of Vengeance” turned out to be stellar writing. Add to this the conclusion of the Superman/Batman series and Detective Comics and wonder why DC needed to change at all. The writing and overall talent were there all along.
Yet somehow the message wasn’t getting across to the public and in a “Flash” things had to change. Geoff Johns will either reap the dividends or be reviled for the forthcoming changes. I wonder how much he realized the Anti-Flash character, “Thawne” was speaking for him and DC when he said in the last Flashpoint entry, “You’re a more dangerous enemy to yourself than I could ever hope to be. But you forgot what you did, didn’t you? I want you to remember Barry. I want you to know the truth. And I can do that by resetting your internal vibrations– –though it will be extremely painful.”
It’s as though Johns had a few reservations about the New 52 when he spoke of “resetting” and “it will be extremely painful”. I guess we’ll all see how painful it may be. As for Barry being a “dangerous enemy to himself” it again sound as if Johns is wondering if he is doing the right thing but can’t help himself. But he goes on by saying, “But you forgot didn’t you?” It is easy to forget the successes of the past isn’t it Geoff Johns? Especially when times are tough.
The Barry Allen Flash was the centerpiece to this entire effort. Not a surprise since Allen is a Johns' favorite. A lot of the Silver Age heroes got their due in this series and I can’t complain about that. It’s been a while since, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Aquaman have really meant anything. But the figure that stands out for me the most is the Thomas Wayne Batman. He was the antithesis of the son he never knew, instead of being heroic he was tired, angry, bitter, self-loathing and murderous. Sadly, Thomas Wayne had blood on his hands at the very end and it wasn’t the blood born of the healing hands of a surgeon. Instead of a scalpel, this Batman wielded a sword that brought the end to Thawne. Yet the bitter tears yielded by a final letter to a son he never knew left far from the acrid after taste of a dismal life and there is redemption there.
It’s fitting that the final scene of this series takes place in the Batcave as it is virtually where it all began in Flashpoint. Instead of emptiness and sorrow that haunted the Thomas Wayne Batcave, we have a refuge filled with scientific wonder dedicated to the pursuit of justice. Batman works alone there but on that night the erstwhile solitude is broken by the loving words from a father to a son.
Let’s hope these words of guidance and love embolden the “New 52” that follows this Flashpoint series. It will have a lot to live up to.
So overall, from the reviewers of this blog post, Flashpoint #5 gets an average of 4 Batarangs.
Posted by The TBU Flashpoint Team