Review: Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring the Flash trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Some of the themes of the other Flashpoint tie-in collections have been harder to place -- the Wonder Woman volume was mostly about "Whatever happened to Europe," sure, but the Superman and Green Lantern books split the fate of the DC Universe aliens, and the Batman book quickly strayed from "Whatever happened to Gotham City?" World of Flashpoint Featuring the Flash, however, lives up to its tagline if not its title -- page after page this book details "Whatever happened to the world's greatest super-villains" in the Flashpoint universe.

What emerges is Flashpoint's super-villain crime book, the Flashpoint equivalent of Villains United or Salvation Run. The stories here run the gamut from beautiful and brilliant to tired and gory; as with the other Flashpoint books, collecting different series by different teams, what we end up with is a mixed bag.

[Contains spoilers]

DC Comics has given Wally West fans a lot to be upset about, and if you skipped the Flashpoint books and focused your ire solely on Wally's exclusion from the DC New 52, World of Flashpoint: Flash probably isn't for you. Scott Kolins's Citizen Cold miniseries collected here is brilliant, possibly the best Flashpoint tie-in I read and that includes surpassing Brian Azzarello's Batman: Knight of Vengeance, but Wally meets a quick and early demise in these pages.

Kolins handles it well -- I'm not sure whom else Kolins could have killed in this story to affect both Iris West and the Pied Piper -- but I imagine Wally's onscreen death might be more than some fans are ready for.

Wally fans can take heart, however -- it is a testament to just how engrained Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins's run on the Wally West Flash series has seeped into the comics zeitgeist that ten years later, even despite DC's conscious shift from Wally to Barry Allen, they still have Kolins writing and drawing what is essentially another story, like Blackest Night: Flash, cut directly from the Johns/Kolins cloth. This is a Citizen nee Captain Cold story precisely in the style of the early Johns Cold stories.

In Citizen Cold, Leonard Snart is a greater anti-hero than he's already been, a "hero" secretly working toward his own ends and hiding his secret identity as a former criminal (an interesting concept in its own right). Cold knows he's in his last days, trying to entice love interest Iris West to leave town with him before someone discovers his identity, or the revenge-bent Rogues catch up with him.

Kolins's Cold and Iris are a wonderfully twisted Lois and Clark -- Cold's no "super" man, but rather a bad boy Iris can't help both find attractive and distrust. Like Blackest Night: Flash, this is a dark family story that tests Cold's bonds of love and loyalty all the way up to its inevitable, tragic end. I was riveted -- heck, even if you're still sad about Wally, you should still read this one.

Kolins also contributes the Reverse Flash one-shot here, rumored to have originally been the cancelled Flash #13 before the DC New 52 changed Flashpoint's direction. Nothing wrong with this issue per se, or Joel Gomez's "sketchy" art in the style of Francis Manapul, but neither does it tell an established reader anything new about Professor Zoom nor tie into Flashpoint in any substantial way.

On the other side of the spectrum from Kolins's Citizen Cold, I truly disliked Adam Glass's Legion of Doom miniseries, and it probably portends bad things for my enjoyment of his Suicide Squad. The biggest problem is wooden dialogue throughout ("Didn't your mommy ever tell you not to play with matches, Heatwave?" Cyborg quips; Heatwave replies that they should stop "yapping." At another point, a character says with no irony that they should "blow this popsicle stand."), but also Glass's Heatwave is mean-spirited and violent without any redemptive or at least villainously-attractive traits for the reader to latch on to. Rodney Buchemi's art seemed flat and unremarkable; all in all I was eager to finish reading this one.

On the other hand, I probably could have read more of Sean Ryan and Ig Guara's Grodd of War issues, instead of just a special. It's really a one-joke story, in which the absence of the Flash has made Grodd so bored he wants to die, but the depth of Grodd's boredom and the gory depths he plums to sate that boredom are also riveting. Ryan's attempts at making a political statement about Africa don't quite manifest, but it was interesting to see Grodd interacting with government buildings and riding in cars rather than the familiar rural Gorilla City. Guara's backgrounds are lush and his gorilla faces expressive; combine this with some great cameos (that's Catman, kids) and Grodd's a winner.

Finally, you all know I enjoy and appreciate Sterling Gates's work, but much as I wanted to like the closing Kid Flash miniseries, it just didn't congeal for me. Bart Allen and the new Hot Pursuit, long-time Flash character Patty Spivot, battle Brainiac in a Flashpoint-alternate future -- that's fine, though it might have gone on an issue too long.

Then, the third issue shifts completely to what I felt was a too-confusing romp where Bart is, then isn't, the deadly Black Flash. It's nice that Gates includes Bart's mentor Max Mercury, but does the last old DC Universe interaction between Bart and Max need to be where one kills the other? Gates is Bart Allen fan, no question -- he name-checks Impulse's Carol, for gosh sake! -- and he includes some nice visual nods to Crisis on Infinite Earths, but in all this one didn't move me. It lessens my estimation of Gates not a bit.

Again, I would direct any Flash fan to go pick up Scott Kolins's Citizen Cold miniseries; it's really very impressive work. World of Flashpoint Featuring the Flash, however, is an uneven collection that starts strong but doesn't finish that way -- the danger, perhaps, of multi-creator collections. In that way, maybe Flashpoint: Batman is the better collection -- but don't discount that Citizen Cold.

[Includes original covers. Printed on very thin glossy paper.]

Everything you know has now changed in a flash ... and it's time for Collected Editions' first reviews of the DC New 52! Go out tomorrow, pick up Justice League Vol. 1: Origin, and then come back here Thursday right and ready for the Collected Editions review. See you then!
Collected Editions 2014 Comic Book Gift Guide
Get the Collected Editions scoop before anyone else -- on Facebook!

9 comments:

  1. I will confirm that Glass' Suicide Squad is just as bad if not worse than Legion of Doom. The writing is completely lacking in subtlety and is the equivalent of torture porn movies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good review. 100% agreement on Legion of Doom...truly, truly awful experience!

    Really enjoyed the Flashpoint reviews as a whole.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Flashpoint: Legion of Doom is one of the worst things I've ever read, but I find Glass's Suicide Squad surprisingly entertaining, unsubtle and nasty as it is.

    I didn't like Citizen Cold very much (I wish Kolins had someone else write the dialogue), but Grodd of War was pretty good and Kid Flash Lost was a decent send-off for the pre-Flashpoint incarnation of Bart Allen.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is the only Flashpoint collection where I read *all* the included stories (for obvious reasons). I agree that Citizen Cold is the best of this set, and Legion of Doom...well, there are comics that you feel are a waste of time, and there are comics that you actively wish you hadn't read. This was the latter. But then I had a similar reaction to Secret Seven, which I seem to remember you liked.

    Kid Flash Lost was one of those books that I should have liked better, at least to start with, but that last issue was just so depressing. Sterling Gates described this as a "love letter to the Flash Family," but it reads more like the ending of "Old Yeller."

    As for Wally's early death, I have no problem with it in the context of Flashpoint. It fits the story perfectly. But in the context of Wally West's last-ever appearance in the mainstream DCU until some future EIC decides to allow him back, it was just adding insult to injury.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This Flash compilation really looks up my alley :)
    I need to get this one~

    Though I wish Jay Garrick had gotten some form of appearance in this whole mess of an event....

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm looking forward to leaving Flashpoint behind and moving on to bigger and better things. Since I don't buy hardcovers it will be interesting to read your Justice League review. My first exposure to the post Flashpoint DCU will be the softcover of Animal Man which I have heard nothing but great things about.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, didn't anticipate the different reactions on the various stories in this collection, with the exception of Citizen Cold getting much love and Legion of Doom the opposite.

    For mine, I found Kid Flash Lost top of the heap alongside Citizen Cold, but couldn't warm to Grodd of War (had a similar nasty feel to me as Legion of Doom, unfortunately). I had mixed feeling about the Reverse Flash story - liked the story, not so much the art.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The reactions to Adam Glass's work fascinate me, too. On one hand we have reactions like most of these (Kelson, my sentiments exactly); on the other hand, I take shagmu's word that he's enjoying it, and some publication -- IGN, MTV Geek, something -- really likes Suicide Squad, too. I'm still trying to figure this one out.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I thought Legion of Doom was so bad that I instantly added Adam Glass to my "avoid at all costs" list. I read Grodd of War at around the same time and didn't think much of it, but maybe it was just the bitter taste of LoD still lingering in my mouth. That being said, I will give LoD props for the one interesting thing it had going for it: the way Plastic Man snuck into prison.

    As a long-time Wally fan (he is still "Flash" to me!), I didn't mind him getting killed off here, but maybe because he's been gone for so long already. Maybe I would have felt different if I was thinking "This is the LAST APPEARANCE OF WALLY!" when I read it. I liked Citizen Cold, but wouldn't have put it up there with some of the other strong minis from Flashpoint. Still, it was nice to see Iris actively involved in Flashpoint, while Barry was running around in the main series. Actually, that was one of the things that did bother me about the main Flashpoint story, as well as about Barry since his Final Crisis return; that Iris hasn't been his "lightning rod" in the same way that Linda was for Wally. It seems like Barry has spent a lot of time away from Iris, as much as he avoided the rest of the "Flash Family" (themes which were touched upon in the Road to Flashpoint book), and he seemed to give up on Iris awfully quick in favour of focusing on his mom in Flashpoint. That being said, I think Barry probably assumed once he "fixed" everything that him and Iris would be back together, and he was more worried about losing his mom again.

    I also agree that the Reverse Flash issue, while not bad or anything, didn't offer much that we haven't seen before.

    Regarding Bart as the Black Flash, I interpreted it as the Speed Force turning Bart into that so that he was able to collect speed energy from everyone else, and then once he "had it all", he was no longer the Black Flash (I think he briefly returned to "normal" before becoming the White Flash?). My biggest complaint about it all was the disjoint with the main series; in Flashpoint Barry said that he wasn't up to full speed, and Kid Lost shows how Bart gives Barry the speed that he needs, but neither makes reference to the connection there. Even if Flashpoint had a moment where Barry was struggling while running and then all of a sudden pushed through the wall, and then we see in Kid Flash that Bart was the one who helped him do that, would have make the two feel more cohesive.

    ReplyDelete