When reading Flashpoint, you get the sense that this is a storyline that was designed to feature the Flash heavily, and yet over time became embroiled in many other things going on at DC, to the point where the event is instead being twisted to provide a loose impetus behind DC’s upcoming revamp of its titles across the board. To use a DC reference, this book is like reading Blackest Night, but the villain isn’t even shown until the last page of the penultimate issue, and the main thing you wanted to see, the Lanterns, barely played a part. That’s what reading Flashpoint feels like. I like when mini-series are shorter, but only if that means that we actually get a full story, instead of over-padding the issues to hit a certain issue count. This book jumps around a LOT, but doesn’t manage to really engage the reader all that much.
The reader sees flashes of stuff that is actually interesting,but then Johns moves onwards somewhere else far too quickly. The various mini-series feel much more integral than I believe they should be, given DC’s constant statement that you can read the main series and follow along just fine. This is inherently not true, as characters just disappear off the map, and I’m sure stuff happens to them in their own mini-series, but I have no real way of knowing for sure without buying them at this point. A close comparison to this method of storyline, with an alternate reality spawning tie-in mini-series, etc, is Marvel‘s House of M, which is kind of like the opposite of this series. That was a series with a clear start point, as to what set all the wheels in motion, then we had some padding as we looked around the universe and got our bearings, and then the plot amped up and led up to a climax. There were risks, there were clear battle lines, so that you could understand each phase. Whether or not the series worked overall isn’t the point here, it’s just that this series is moving almost too fast, without actually saying anything. The core premise, that Barry has to get his speed back, and find a way to… do something, is really loose. With House of M, the heroes had to assemble, to get Scarlet Witch to put the world back. But here… some heroes get together to try and stop the fighting between Aquaman and Wonder Woman…? But to what end? There’s no real sense of the consequences to any actions taking place in this book, and it makes the reading experience less enjoyable, less impactful, less suspenseful.
And none of this even takes into account the fact that the “villain”, Reverse Flash, makes his first full appearance in this issue! It feels like there is FAR too much left undone to get done in just one more issue of this series, but I can’t imagine it somehow tightroping its way out of being a huge disappointment, in multiple ways.
The artwork by Kubert is gorgeous, with exquisite detail. There really isn’t much more to say about his artwork, he’s always been one of my personal favourites, regardless of what he’s illustrating, and this issue just backs up those feelings.
As we near the end of this storyline, what once seemed like it could be a really fantastic Flash storyline has instead degenerated into a means to an end, with the end in this case being the revamp of DC’s entire line with the New 52.