Review: Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

World of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern offered some of the strongest Flashpoint tie-in miniseries so far, faltering only unexpectedly at the end. In addition to stories about Green Lantern characters Abin Sur and Hal Jordan, and Green Arrow, this World of Flashpoint volume also debuts writer Jeff Lemire on the Frankenstein character that he'll subsequently write in the DC New 52 (what ties all these stories together, perhaps, is that "it's not easy being green").

For the first few stories, for Lemire's Frankenstein, and for a brief nod to what the term "Flashpoint" might mean for the DC Universe going forward, Green Lantern ranks for me as the second-best Flashpoint tie-in collection, behind Batman but before Wonder Woman and Superman.

[Contains spoilers]

I thoroughly enjoyed Adam Schlagman's Abin Sur: The Green Lantern miniseries that started off this collection, perhaps because of all the Flashpoint tie-ins, it felt the most familiar -- like Abin Sur's back-story, instead of his alternate life. This is due largely because Schlagman mines the rich mythos Geoff Johns has created for the Green Lantern title of late; the Project Superman miniseries had nothing to do with ongoing events in the Superman titles, but Abin Sur is full of Atrocitus and White Lanterns and the untold romance between Sinestro and Abin Sur's sister, and on and on.

One gets the sense of things hinted at here later to be revealed in the Green Lantern title, rather than simply an "Elseworlds" tale that plays on Superman or Batman's tropes.

Not only is any story fun where the writer plays Sinestro as an anti-hero, but Schlagman also has Sinestro investigating "the prophecy of the Flashpoint." Other titles have addressed "the Flashpoint," mainly Legion of Super-Heroes, and popular wisdom has it that "Flashpoint" being a thing is a holdover from what the miniseries was meant to achieve prior to its use introducing the DC New 52.

Here, we learn a Flashpoint is "a moment in time that changes everything moving forward," which makes sense both in this context and that of the Legion's time travel. Possibly, DC could decide that all of their continuity-changing events so far have been "Flashpoints"; tied perhaps into the upcoming Pandora story will be some unification of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis and so on all as Flashpoints, a kind of unified continuity-changing theory similar to Hypertime; if so, this will make the Abin Sur miniseries very key indeed.

Abin Sur was good enough that it's surprising that Schlagman's Hal Jordan miniseries that ends this collection is so dull. Hal Jordan is a character with plenty of complexity, but Schlagman glosses over the fine details; Hal changes, seemingly (but not explicitly) because of Abin Sur's influence, but Hal's self-sacrifice in the end seems more about daredevil notoriety than an inspiration to save the world.

When Carol Ferris finds Hal's engagement ring in the end, I couldn't quite recognize it as a natural outgrowth of the character we'd been following for three issues. A lot of the miniseries is taken up with airplane battles; there's nothing wrong with that per se, but these were not so exciting, nor did the time in between reveal more about not-Green Lantern Hal Jordan's character than you would expect. Again, it's a disappointment mainly because of how well Schlagman brought Abin Sur to life in the beginning.

On the other hand, I would call Vertigo editor Pornsak Pichetshote's Green Arrow Industries one-shot one of the high points of the Flashpoint tie-ins. With a nice amount of humor, Pichetshote introduces a young Oliver Queen who's not an archer at all, but rather the CEO of a munitions corporation specializing in super-villain weaponry. I don't, as it is, object to a flashier take on Green Arrow that's more Justin Hartley than "old man with a goatee" (a look that has become even more improbable as time's gone on, even for comic books); adding to that the concept of a hero who takes weapons from super-villains is quite interesting to me.

Pichetshote goes a step further here, however, to take up the idea of corporations as entities, either for good or evil. Queen Industries, in the story, is doing kind of bad -- or at least poorly thought-out things -- but Pichetshote tries to differentiate between the institution and its actions; often a "big corporation" in comics turns out to be evil, but Pichetshote warns that's a stereotype, not a constant fact. The story never gets around to actually deciding what a "superheroic corporation" would consist of, but it's another reason I wouldn't mind reading more of Pichetshote's Green Arrow, to see how it all plays out.

I'm still overjoyed that Frankenstein received a DC New 52 series, so I'm almost inclined not to gripe at all about Jeff Lemire's Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos here. Any screen-time for Frankenstein is good, and Lemire makes this Frankenstein an agent of SHADE just like the DC New 52 and Seven Soldiers of Victory incarnation, so it's not hard to ignore the fine details and enjoy this story as a continuation of what came before and a lead-in to what's next.

Lemire can hardly be faulted for not living up to the truly weird Seven Soldiers miniseries by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke -- that's setting the bar rather high -- but there's neither the "Frankenstein fights a possessed town" nor "Frankenstein does battle on Mars" aesthetic that really puts a Frankenstein story over the top. There's more focus here on the Commandos than on Frankenstein, but I'll give Lemire the benefit of "just warming up" and look forward to the real show in the DC New 52.

[Contains original covers. Printed on especially thin glossy paper]

In all, World of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern succeeds more often than not, emerging very strong in the stories in which it succeeds. Batman: Knight of Vengeance is still the must-read story of Flashpoint, but if I had to recommend a strong book overall, it'd be this one.

Next week, our final Flashpoint tie-in review, World of Flashpoint Featuring the Flash ... and then, don't miss it as we launch Collected Editions into the DC New 52 with our review of Justice League: Origin. Mark it on your calendars -- we'll see you then!
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7 comments:

  1. Reading the reviews have made me go back and start on the tie-ins again. I have to disagree with the GL story. I found parts of it interesting (Sinestro, "flashpoint prophecy", Black Lantern war) but overall felt that it trudged along.

    Considering Abin Sur may have had 5 panels at most throughout the whole Flashpoint main book it seemed as if they had added a Green Lantern book as an afterthought (too bad really...the Lanterns are, IMO, a staple of the DCU and a kickass GL story in the Flashpoint timeline would have been great)

    Batman: Knight of Vengeance was an incredible use of the Flashpoint timeline to tell an engaging and interesting story about a unique take on a Wayne as Batman. I may be in the minority on this but I think Project Superman was the 2nd best after Batman:KOV. (The Gorilla Grodd one shot is pretty close though!!)

    Project Superman was, again my opinion only, a great story on how an industrial military complex would use an alien technology to further their own needs. Keeping Supes alive and imprisoned to further study while at the same time using Sinclair as a guinea pig to create a super solider seemed "real" to me. As he has done with Batman, Scott Snyder de-constructed the essence of Superman (orphaned alien from dying planet, powers under yellow sun, intrinsically a good person, in love with Lois Lane) and used that as the starting point to create a Superman that was different enough for the Flashpoint timeline but still recognizable in terms of the old DCU characterization. (LOVE it when he lands on Enchantress and then takes out Wonder Woman and Aquaman w the super punches!!)

    I agree that Superman seems disjointed at times but that is a part of a bigger "Event Tie In" problem, that I honestly think only Knight of Vengeance has been able to overcome (and I'm talking ALL events in both of the Big Two!!)

    I'm not generally a Superman fan (really enjoying new 52 Action Comics...not so much New 52 Superman title though!!) so I can't even say this is coming from a Superman fanboy but I do think the Project: Superman title is one that needs more appreciation in terms of the issueFlashpoint timeline.

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  2. As I recall, when the Hal Jordan mini came out in single issues, the second one only had 18 story pages, with a weird transition in the first scene that gave me the impression that they had accidentally cut 2 pages. Was that corrected in this TPB?

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  3. I agree that Batman: Knight of Vengeance is a stronger story than Abin Sur, Sheldon -- sounds like we both liked Abin Sur for the same reasons, but I agree KOV wins out.

    I'm not quite with you on Project Superman though; as you'll see in my final Flashpoint review, I think Citizen Cold stands neck and neck with KOV. You are quite welcome to your opinion, but I thought Project Superman was predictable -- the story we already know of Doomsday, tacked on the story we also already know of Captain America. I thought the bits with Superman in the second and third issues were quite moving -- the "Superboy," as it were, saving young Lois -- but I didn't take to Sinclair nor did I think it was on par with Snyder's other work.

    But you are not the first here to praise Project Superman, and I appreciate your perspective. Stick around!

    shag, I just counted and the second issue of Hal Jordan also has 18 pages in the trade. I don't have the single issue to compare to -- what was weird about the transition?

    I've been meaning to say -- and this seems like as good a place as any -- that the pages in the Flashpoint tie-in trades are really thin. Super-thin. My copies of all these books warped as soon as I opened them, probably because it's such thin paper. I think this was because some of the trades were longer than normal, like 12 issues, but buyer beware.

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  4. I don't have the issue with me right now, but the weird transition is right at the beginning, when Hal is in the middle of a conversation with Tom via radio and, when you turn the page, there's a double-page spread and Hal is screaming "they're freaking invisible planes" or something like that.

    Since all other Flashpoint tie-ins were 20 pages long, I thought they might have accidentally skipped two pages before they sent the issue to the printers, so when I took another look at the issue, that's where I figured the hypothetical missing pages were supposed to be. However, if the issue is still 18 pages long in the TPB, I must have been wrong in my assumption.

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  5. It is a weird transition, now that you mention it. I actually think Hal is answering Hammond there, not Tom -- Hammond says "Something's entered our airspace" and Hal, taking fire, screams "They're invisible planes!" Now how, exactly, Tom could "see" the invisible planes, that I couldn't figure out ...

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  6. Frankenstein is the only one of this set that I read. I remember thinking the opening chapter was great, but it dropped off drastically in the middle and picked up a bit in the third chapter. Maybe A-C-B in terms of school grades.

    The New 52 version has been kind of hit or miss, but it's been holding just this side of the keep-reading threshold (unlike, say, Justice League Dark).

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  7. Color me intrigued by that Green Arrow flashpoint, one I actually ignored until this point!

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