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.
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!