Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by Nick J. Napolitano
Published by DC Comics
Review by Colin Bell
You might be hard-pushed to throw an elbow on the internet today for fear of seeing the phrase "today the world changes" as Flashpoint gets underway, but in an industry that occasionally gets caught up in hyperbole, it's heartening to see a book that is truly striving to live up to its promise.
Whilst it's easy to compare this book to Marvel events or based on the premise - so easy in fact, that I just did - the way that the first issue of this Flash-led event differs in its execution is twofold. We're not shown the actions that caused the different DC Universe that Barry Allen abruptly finds himself in - which throws the reader headfirst into the story and adds a wrinkle of mystery to the proceedings, although you could hazard a reasonable guess at who has done what to get things where they are. Couple this mystery with a genuinely compelling status-quo change for every character that appears, and you have the makings of an event where I'm actually intrigued to check out a tie-in or two to see what they're all about, which is a rarity in my case. The best thing about the reset of our protagonists' circumstances is that it renders the book wholly accessible for anyone wanting to pick it up - whilst there is the odd bit of fun to be had with the juxtaposition of characters' lives and personalities pre and post-universe-altering event, it's not necessary to get these quirks to enjoy the book in its own right.
Geoff Johns hits the ground running here, and is obviously reveling in the opportunity to twist the histories of the inhabitants of his sandbox - characters considered to be B-list are elevated to heroes of this world, and surprisingly for an event of this magnitude the trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman scarcely make an appearance - some of them might not even be alive in this world. This first issue proves to be less Flash-centric than the build up to it (and the title) would have had you believe. In fact a character that has no relation to the Speed Force takes the lead for much of the book and provides us with a cliffhanging twist that I look forward to being explored further.
On the art side of things, Andy Kubert excels with the blank canvas that he's been afforded here, with redesigned vistas of Gotham City (highlighted in neon through some deft coloring by Alex Sinclair), and tweaked appearances for many characters, the latter showcased in two near-successive two-page spreads. He also makes light work of a rooftop plea for help that could've become dull fast in the hands of a lesser artist, by highlighting the characters that will be leading the book a panel at a time. Elsewhere, subtle choices such as showing the Bat-cave in a far less technological state than we're used to, even for one brief panel, tell so much and add a history to the new world we find ourselves in with efficiency.
It is true to say that this issue is mainly scene-setting, and some may not appreciate the focus on unfamiliar characters. With the premise that it has, there will be mutterings of "seen it all before" in some corners of comic book fandom when it comes to Flashpoint. I'd argue that if you feel that's the case, then at least you've rarely seen it done with such conviction. Based on this strong opening salvo, I'll be onboard with this book for its duration.