1 Sep 2011

Cover To Cover: FLASHPOINT #5

FLASHPOINT #5
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, Jesse Delperdang & Alex Sinclair
DC $3.99

Matt C: It’s fair to say that the hoopla surround DC’s New 52 has stolen some of the thunder from Flashpoint over the last few months as the focus has shifted away from what was happening in the summer event book to what would happen after it concluded. We’ve already known for some time now that Barry Allen would somehow ‘fix’ the timeline that created the world of Flashpoint and that it wouldn’t result in everything reverting back to the way things were before. It would essentially be a reboot of sorts, with a large helping of the familiar accompanied with a side order of something a little different. So it may seem surprising then, considering we’ve had a rough idea of how things would turn out, that Flashpoint #5 is quite as effective as it is.

In one sense, it’s very predictable. Barry is confronted by Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, who reveals the root cause of the divergent timeline (perhaps not what you’re expecting) before the two set about duking it out while various other parties engage in fisticuffs in the background. It works because Johns ensures the characters don’t got lost in the action and Kubert ensures the action looks spectacular. Johns brings in the various plot threads together without confusing the reader by staying tight on a couple of characters: Allen primarily, but also Thomas Wayne, who’s determination to save his son has given the series a lot of its emotional weight. I still contend that the numerous Flashpoint tie-ins have been superfluous (entertaining as they may be) as this is one of those rare crossovers that doesn’t make you feel like your missing out on much of the finer details of the plot if you haven’t been picking up a bunch of other books. There’s lots of stuff going on in this world, but essentially the series has been about two men and their desire to mend the timestream, and when Johns doesn’t overcrowd his plots, he really, really shines.

As a blockbuster comic series it’s succeeded in a way that few others of a similar ilk have in the last decade or so, but what I wasn’t anticipating was how successful it would be at tugging at the heartstrings too. There are several moments here were certain members of the cast have to deal with both the idea and the reality of losing loved ones, and these moments pack an unexpected punch. Most people will probably highlight the powerful final pages - and deservedly so - but I was also quite taken with the scene between Barry and his mother, beautifully written with a real tenderness at its core, even amid all the high octane displays of superheroics that surround it.

Kubert’s been around for a while now – can it really be two decades since he was illustrating X-Men?! – but clearly he hasn’t been resting on his laurels when it comes to his craft because, as good as it was way back when, his art now is frequently remarkable, full of explosive vivacity, springing off the page with the help of Hope and Delperdang’s inks and some eye-popping colouring from Sinclair. It’s a testament to Kubert’s skill that those moments were emotion comes to the fore are just as, if not more, powerful than dynamic visuals when the Flash is on the move.

Too many times I’ve got onboard with an event book only to come away disappointed with the finale, so it’s really quite refreshing to find one that exceeded my expectations right up to the end. It hasn’t done anything particularly new but what it has done is remind me of the pure thrill a superhero comic can deliver when all the right elements are in place. There are a lot of exciting things due out of the DC Universe over the coming months but for the moment, while Marvel are failing with their own summer event, let’s just be thankful with the knowledge that, in 2011, its still possible for such as big, high profile series to enthral, thrill and surprise in equal measure. 9/10

No comments: