This issue brings to a close an entire era of DC Comics, as the DC universe as we know it comes to a close, and gives birth to a relaunched, revamped DCU, which launches with Justice League #1, part of the New 52. Sadly, it all ends not with a bang, but with a whimper, as this poorly written, sloppily executed issue fails to act as an adequate send-off for the DCU as we knew it.
For the past twenty-five years, Barry Allen has enjoyed a status that is highly revered by both DC fans and characters within the comics, as he died saving millions at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Although he had had flaws as a character prior to his death, since then he had become revered, almost saint-like. As if they were determined to take that away from the character, this mini-series has managed to make Barry Allen selfish, as it is revealed that the true culprit behind Flashpoint is none other than himself.
Reading through this issue, I felt that Geoff Johns didn't play straight with the reader throughout this event. Whereas in most events there's a clear cause and effect, this series lacked a true raison d'etre, and it plagued the event all the way through until the bitter end. Zoom's fight with Barry here lacks a certain something, as the events of this issue just kind of happen, without any real sense or consequence. Zoom's death at the hands of a particular character makes no sense, given his speed and how banal the death is. Barry's ability to suddenly travel so easily through time to find himself on a cosmic treadmill lacks an actual sense of purpose, and the much talked about two-page spread that "explains" the relaunch is an absolute farce. It doesn't explain anything, it is a very lame and non-specific explanation of how reality is changed.
It's impossible to read this mini-series and not compare it to some of Marvel's prior events, notably House of M and The Age of Apocalypse. The former was an alternate reality story that played out over the course of a mini-series, and had a clear reason for occuring, as well as a relatively clear method established early-on in how to change reality back to the way that it was supposed to be. Age of Apocalypse can boast the same things, plus it had a way of bringing characters from its reality to the main reality, and in some cases fit them into established continuity, with Sugar Man having created the mutates in Genosha, and Dark Beast having created the Morlocks, explaining some of the impetus behind Mr. Sinister ordering the slaughter of the Morlocks in the classic Mutant Massacre.
This mini-series and the related mini-series tie-ins lacked that clear purpose, and the reading experience suffers as a result.
The issue closes in a very personal, intimate manner, and it was perhaps the best piece of writing in this issue, although after what had just occurred, it lacked a bit of importance. Flash and Batman have a few words, and although it's quite well written, a little voice in my head reminded me that they don't have the relationship here that perhaps they did have in the old reality, since it takes place in the new continuity.
Andy Kubert delivers some absolutely amazing visuals, it's just a shame that the story has holes aplenty, and is more preoccupied with where it's trying to go, as opposed to explaining just how it's going to get there.
Was Flashpoint enjoyable reading all the way through? No, it wasn't. The story had stutters and bumps, it lacked real sense, the conclusion didn't make a lot of sense, the origins of the event devalue a character and make him much more selfish and self-involved than ever before, and the art is one of the few saving graces of this issue. Nevertheless, it's an important touchstone, as it's the last of the old DCU comics to come out prior to the New 52.