Flashpoint, the five-issue mini-series by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, will dominate the this summer's DC comics, yet very little is known about its story.
Based in a world where everything has changed, Flashpoint chronicles how Barry Allen is the only hero who recalls the regular DCU. In the Flashpoint world, Cyborg is the world's quintessential hero, Batman is apparently running casinos, and Wonder Woman is a warrior-ruler.
Although the mini-series doesn't cross over with any other publications — not even The Flash, which is canceled with May's issue #12 — DC is publishing 16 three-issue mini-series and several one-shots that tell stories within the Flashpoint world. The only ongoing series that will reference Flashpoint is Booster Gold, who also knows something is wrong.
DC has been releasing cover images and taglines that add up to some educated guesses about what happened in the "past" to create the "current" Flashpoint world. Some changes are obvious — for example, Abin Sur survived in the Flashpoint world, so he never gave Hal Jordan a Green Lantern ring. But most of the other hints DC has been releasing have been pretty vague.
And even Johns isn't saying much.
"The first rule about Flashpoint," the writer told us this week, "is don't talk about what happens after Flashpoint."
But Newsarama did find out a few things about what happens during the event. For example:
- In the Flashpoint mini-series, Flash and Batman team up "Brave and the Bold style."
- Johns says his mini-series is the "most accessible event I've ever done," saying there is no other comic necessary to read before or during his story.
- The writer has been working on the concept for years.
- One of the reasons there are multiple tie-ins is that comic creators were told about the event at a meeting, and they came up with what Johns calls "quality stories" they wanted to tell in the Flashpoint world.
- Although Johns won't clarify whether the mini-series has lasting ramifications, he keeps saying things like, "where DC is going" ... and "what we have coming out of" Flashpoint.
Want to know more? So did we. Newsarama talked to Johns and bombarded him with Flashpoint questions, hoping the tight-lipped creator would share more about this summer's DC event.
Newsarama: Geoff, the concept of Flashpoint is new to most readers, since we're just hearing about it, but you've been working on this quite awhile, haven't you?
Geoff Johns: I really have. I came up with the idea behind it when I was fleshing out Barry Allen a long time ago. Andy and I have been talking about it and working on it for a long time. Andy's already cruising through issue #4 out of 5.
Nrama: You guys are that far ahead? Readers will be relieved to hear there's little possibility for delays.
Johns: You know, I hate to talk about schedules, because as soon as you do, something happens to completely mess things up. But as of right now, I'm about to start the script for issue #5, so I'll be on the last issue before the first issue even hits. And like I said, Andy's drawing issue #4 right now, out of five issues.
Nrama: Let's talk about the beginning of the Flashpoint concept. One thing that stands out about this mini-series is that so many writers are involved. Even editors are writing some of these tie-ins. I saw that Brian Azzarello specifically said at one of the recent cons that he doesn't like being part of events, but he loves the idea behind Flashpoint so much that he and his 100 Bullets collaborator Eduardo Risso wanted to get involved. Is that how other creators got involved? Did you call them? Or have a meeting?
Johns: We had a meeting a while ago, last year, and everybody came in. And we talked to everyone and I pitched out the series, and what it was all about. The whole story from beginning to end. And we talked about it.A lot of people had ideas about things to do. That's how a lot of the guys got involved.
I talked to Brian [Azzarello] in detail about stuff. He's one of my absolute favorite writers in comics, and one of my favorite people in comics. I think he's brilliant. I was psyched when he wanted to get involved, especially with him and Eduardo. 100 Bullets is one of the greatest series of the Modern Age.
And it wasn't just him. I mean, Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder, and all these other talented writers wanted to get involved. I just feel fortunate with the quality we have with the writing and art on the stuff around Flashpoint.
I'm a big believer in that being the reason Sinestro Corps worked, and why Blackest Night worked. The main book has to be amazing, but the other books around it have to be great too. If you're going to do an event, you have to do it right.
Nrama: When these other writers got involved, was it a matter of you telling them the story that they could write? Or were these their ideas?
Johns: A lot of it was ideas they had about exploring the world beyond what I could tell in the pages of Flashpoint. My mini-series really centers on a core group of characters in this world, and a lot of the other ones come in and out. And then there were so many glimpses of other characters that could be explored, and there was an opportunity to look at what changed them and why. And I think that was what was enticing to so many people.
The tie-ins aren't just, like, "look, so-and-so is this way." It's exploring "how did they get there, and why?" That's the idea that drove a lot of the people who are involved. What would happen to make a hero in our universe go this far?
Nrama: Some of the solicitations make it pretty clear that there are minis and one-shots that take place in the past. Is that so you can go back and tell the story about how each character or group got this way?
Johns: Yeah, it shows you how the character got here. But those stories also dive into the present Flashpoint world.
Nrama: You keep saying "world" and not universe, and there are a lot of guesses about what would create a place where so much has changed. On the surface, this seems to be an altered timeline by someone messing with the past. Would you call this a time travel story?
Johns: Um... it's hard to say. In a way, it is. It really builds off what we've done in both The Flash and Rebirth, and it comes full circle to that.
Nrama: How is this different from or similar to other "alterated world" stories we've seen before?
Johns: I think this is different than anything that's been done before, because of the way it's told and what we have coming out of it.
Nrama: You say, "what we have coming out of it." So are there lasting ramifications, or is it just an alternate version of this world that gets fixed and goes away?
Johns: What we've been saying is, "the first rule about Flashpoint is, don't talk about what happens after Flashpoint."
Nrama: How is it all being coordinated?
Johns: Eddie Berganza's really the coordinator of this one. He did Blackest Night as well. Because it's so vast, there's a lot of coordination happening. I work with Eddie and Rex Ogle, and there are a lot of other editors involved, like Brian Cunningham and Pat McCallum. A lot of people.
Nrama: I remember talking to you about Blackest Night, and you had said it featured a team-up between Barry and Hal, who emerged as central characters in the story. Are there any team-ups like that who are at the core of Flashpoint?
Johns: Yes. It's really a Flash-Batman story.
Nrama: That makes sense, since Flash is a cop and Batman is a detective.
Johns: That's exactly right.
Nrama: Solicitations have indicated that Booster Gold knows the Flashpoint world isn't his own. The concept behind an altered timeline goes right along with his series. Did you think of him all along as someone who could be involved in Flashpoint?
Johns: Yes, that was the one book that I knew would be tied into the mini-series. I knew [Booster Gold creator] Dan [Jurgens] was coming back [to write and draw Booster Gold], and I talked to him a lot about this story. It just felt like he's the natural person to have be involved in this, and that his book would just fit right along with it. If you're going to tie in anything, that's the book to tie-in.
Nrama: It's interesting to see Cyborg take a lead role. Is that a character you think has more potential?
Johns: Cyborg, much like Aquaman, is one of my favorite characters. I brought him into The Flash way back when and I brought him into Teen Titans. I always felt that he was so recognizable and I thought he was such a great character. He's one of my favorites. I just felt like there are a lot more stories to be told about him, and he's a character that I really wanted to work with more. I would love to elevate the character. He's not usually in the center of these events.It's similar to what happened with Mera. We always see Superman and Batman and now, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman at the center of these events. So I wanted to have a big DCU event that revolved around Flash, but also bring in some other characters, like Cyborg.
There's another character that's very obscure who is going to have a bigger role in the Flashpoint mini-series than she's ever had in the DC Universe.
That was one of my goals. I think it makes it more fun to read. I think it's fun to introduce some of these characters to people who don't really know them. I think it's fun to explore them in totally different way. And it also just shows how capable and powerful these other characters are.
Look at Mera, before Blackest Night and after. She's in a totally different place.
Nrama: Just to clarify, you did say "she" when you referred to the obscure character you're giving more attention in Flashpoint?
But you know, it isn't just attention. What I mean is, you can't force people to like characters by just throwing them in the spotlight. You see people try to do that and it just doesn't work.
What I like to do is take characters that I love, characters that I already have a passion for, and concentrate my effort there. Whenever I wrote my top favorite characters down, on the list was some of the top characters, but there were a lot of obscure characters too. I want to share the passion I have for these characters. And I think the only way to elevate characters is to pick the ones you love. Pick the ones you have ideas for, that you have stories for, that you know and have an emotional core for.
You see why they could be bigger and relatable. You take all that potential that you see and you try to lock it into the story that people are reading. I think that's the real key to getting these characters out there.
Nrama: You certainly elevated a lot of characters in Brightest Day, and people want to see more of those characters. Are the concepts or characters from Brightest Day at all connected to Flashpoint?
Johns: Not really. Flashpoint really grows out of the Flash book more than anything else.
But Flashpoint is the most accessible event I've ever done.
Nrama: Why is that?
Johns: There are a lot of new characters in here. This isn't just one of those stories were you take the DC Universe, shake it up, and say, "This is what happened to so-and-so." There are a lot of new characters in here as well. So you, as the reader, are in this universe with Flash, meeting all these characters for the very first time. Some of them are brand new. Some of them are characters that you maybe aren't familiar with, who are in a different place. But it's very much a journey where Barry's in the dark as much as the reader.
I think it's going to be much more accessible than anything else you've seen before as an event. You certainly don't need to read anything before issue #1, and the mini-series tells you everything you need to know.
Nrama: There are several covers that concentrate on London. Is this not an American story?
Johns: It's a global story.
Nrama: Are there multiple earths involved? Any of the other 52?
Johns: Nope. This is just strictly ours.
Nrama: Will we see things in Flashpoint that clarify other things we've seen in "our" universe? I'm thinking specifically of mysteries we've seen about Abin Sur's past. Since he's still alive, would those mysteries be answered in Flashpoint?
Johns: Yep. Yep. Part of the fun of Flashpoint is not just to explore this world, but to explore the details of why things went the way they went. The stories behind these characters, and why they went different places.
Nrama: And because of that, you might see some "whys" revealed from the past in the "regular" DC Universe?
Nrama: Will we find out the back-story of Hot Pursuit, the character you introduced in The Flash?
Johns: Well, you kind of do in upcoming Flash issues. And in a way, Hot Pursuit will appear in Kid Flash: Lost, by Sterling Gates. And that turned out really nice. He did such a great job on that.
Nrama: Is Zoom a part of Flashpoint?
Nrama: Is Wonder Woman's anomaly that she's experiencing right now at all linked to Flashpoint?
Johns: Um... you'll have to read Wonder Woman.Nrama: We saw June solicitations, and it alleviated some fears people had about whether this event would halt other comics, particularly in the Batman universe. Will the structure we saw in the June solicitations continue that way?
Johns: Yeah. We didn't want to interrupt the flow of the other books. We didn't need to.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Geoff, is there anything else you wanted to tell people about Flashpoint?
Johns: Just that I'm really proud of the book. I think it's different than any other event that's been done before. And as more is revealed about Flashpoint and about where DC is going, it will become clear what this is.
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