One issue in, the Flashpoint mini-series by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert has people talking.
But it's not necessarily about the Flash.
The big reveal at the end of the issue -- and be warned, there are spoilers ahead! -- was that Flashpoint's Batman is actually Thomas Wayne, because Bruce and his mother were the ones killed by a gunman.
Up until yesterday's release of Flashpoint #1, the story elements of the five-issue series remained pretty mysterious, despite some teasers about the event's many tie-ins this summer.
Flashpoint #1 established a world where the heroes of the DCU are drastically changed from the one readers know from comics. Emperor Aquaman is at war with Wonder Woman, Cyborg is America's greatest hero, and Abin Sur never died, still wearing the Green Lantern ring without giving it to Hal Jordan.
Barry Allen woke up in this world and his mother was alive. Reverse-Flash had recently admitted in The Flash #12 that he killed her in the past. Apparently, he went back and changed that part of his own past, but whether he changed anything else still isn't revealed.
In our first post-game interview with Johns about Flashpoint, we asked about the Reverse-Flash, Thomas Wayne, and all the other concepts introduced in issue #1.
Newsarama: Geoff, the big cliffhanger in this issue was the revelation that Thomas Wayne is Batman. It’s such a simple twist, but I don't think it's ever been done before. How’d you come up with it?
Geoff Johns: I wanted this to be a Flash-Batman story, because it's a mystery as Flash is solving what happened to the world. Essentially, it's the biggest crime that's ever been committed in history. So who did it? What happened?And teaming those two up, I thought it would be great. But it's much more interesting if Flash has to deal with a completely different Batman. But somebody that readers would instantly recognize. He's harder edged, there's much darker stuff in his head. He's gone through a lot more than Bruce.
The shock of Barry going through the shock of learning that Thomas Wayne is Batman is just intriguing, and the interplay between those two is much different than what you would see between Barry and Bruce Wayne.
Nrama: What was the key to Thomas being so different than Bruce's Batman? Was it losing a child?
Johns: Yeah. Those memories are still really fresh. He was a grown adult when it all happened. And the loss of a child just pushes somebody to a much different place. He's been Batman a lot longer. He's gone through quite a lot in his life, and you'll see more of how he's different in Flashpoint. And if you want to delve deeper, you can read [the Batman: Knight of Vengeance mini-series] by Brian [Azzarello] and Eduardo [Risso].
Nrama: The line, "she slipped" -- was that inspired by the similar Jason Todd line?
Nrama: You chose to have Thomas Wayne narrate the story, and it was written as if he was looking back on what happened in Flashpoint. He seems very fond of the Flash in future his journaling. Will the key to his tenderness for this man, and his involvement in solving the mystery, be the fact that his son lives in another universe?
Johns: You'll have to read and see. In the next issue, you'll see his reaction is exactly what it should be when some strange man wanders into his cave and starts spouting off crazy things. A lot of that confrontation takes place in issue #2. It's not pleasant.
Nrama: I can imagine. But as a huge fan of time travel stories, I love the idea that if Thomas Wayne helps restore the universe to how it was before, he will die. But his son will live. Does that come into play?
Johns: Yeah. You're a smart woman.
Nrama: This story shows that Barry remembers the alternate universe, you've told us that Booster knows, and we found out from Sterling Gates that Kid Flash knows. Is there anyone else that's aware of the change?
Johns: There's one other person who knows.
Nrama: But you can't say who?
Johns: No. But they are in issue #1.
Nrama: Is there a reason why just those characters remember?
Nrama: The Reverse-Flash is really creepy in this issue, when he's haunting Barry's mom. But how can there be a Reverse-Flash if there's no Flash?
Johns: Exactly! You will find out.
Johns: You'll find out in the comic. You're asking very good questions.
Nrama: But not many that you can answer. I don't know if you can answer this, but was Barry's mother the only thing Reverse-Flash changed in the past? Or some other one thing? Is this a case of a butterfly effect?
Johns: It's not spelled out in the comic, so you'll have to read and learn more about that in the book as well.
Nrama: You introduced a lot of new characters, like Blackout and a new Outsider. Were those all yours? Or did you have input from other creators?
Johns: I had all the characters there and fleshed out, with concepts for them, but all the writers and I collaborated and delved deeper into everybody. So James Robinson went deeper into the Outsider, and Brian and I talked about Batman quite a bit. But yeah, it's a creative collaboration between everybody involved. But I picked out all those characters and created them.There are a lot of new characters in there. That was on purpose, because I want this to be accessible. And not only accessible, but different. So when Barry meets all these people, we're meeting them too. We've never met Element Woman or the Outsider, or half the S!H!A!Z!A!M! kids, or Blackout. And then with Shade the Changing Man, the Enchantress and Golden Age Sandman, and Abin Sur, there are a lot of characters that haven't been in the spotlight ever, I think. So that was a conscious decision.
I didn't want to see the same old faces we always see. This is a different world, and it needs to be more than just "whatever happened to the A- and B-list?" It's got to be some characters that never existed before, and characters that were at the bottom of the barrel who are now at the top.
Nrama: Yeah, but it's interesting that people complain sometimes about continuity of characters they don't know, yet I've seen so many comic readers getting excited about discovering the history of these new characters. I assume you created histories for them? In a way, they have a continuity, right? Just not one you've told readers yet?
Johns: Yeah! I love that they have histories, because that makes them intriguing. Who is the Outsider? What are his powers? Why did he become this way? Is he a good guy or bad guy?
Nrama: What was your personal inspiration for the Captain Thunder twist?
Johns: I just love the S!H!A!Z!A!M! kids. I think they're hilarious. They're really fun to write. They bicker. They all have different personalities.
The Shazam concept, to me, is all about family. So I just wanted to expand that family with new characters.
Nrama: - Abin Sur seemed much less interested in atrocities on Earth than we would expect from the Earth Green Lanterns. Is that one of the side effects of having an alien as the lantern for this sector?
Johns: Abin Sur has gone through a much different experience because he's still alive. It has put him in a different place.
Nrama: It just seems like five issues will be tough to get into all these little things. Will you be able to revisit these characters? Or are most of them only going to be explored in their own series?
Johns: Yeah, a lot of the tie-ins are to explore characters who won't be front and center in the mini-series. You may see more about things we mentioned, but the mini-series really focuses on Flash and Batman. Everybody else is in this world, but the Outsider, the Secret Seven, and a lot of the other characters are in the world but not front-and-center in the main Flashpoint book. But we wanted to explore those characters, because they're worth exploring.
Nrama: So much has changed in the Flashpoint universe, and most people think there's no way this will stick. But I saw a comment online that said, "People saying it won't matter because it's just an Elseworlds tale clearly do not know Geoff Johns very well." Would you agree with that statement?
Or DC. I've said this before, but the first rule about Flashpoint is, don't talk about what comes after Flashpoint.
Nrama: They're certainly sticking to the rule, because I can't get any DC creators to tell me what they're writing or drawing in September.
And one of the things, too, with Flashpoint is that the story does matter. It matters to the Flash and it matters to all the other characters who are in it. I'm really proud of this story. Andy Kubert really knocked it out of the park. He's doing amazing work on it.
And it will have repercussions. But I think it's a great story on its own.
But yes, it will have major repercussions.
Nrama: - We've been told that Kid Flash will be trying to access the Speed Force in the future. And your teaser at the end of Flashpoint said, "Can lightning strike twice?" Is that referencing the Speed Force?
Nrama: The word anomaly was tossed around a lot in The Flash. And the word anomaly has been tossed around a lot referring to Wonder Woman. Are Wonder Woman's time-related troubles connected to Flashpoint?
Johns: I can't really talk about that.
Nrama: Then let's finish up by asking something you can talk about. Are you completely done writing the five issues of Flashpoint?
Johns: Yeah, I'm wrapping up some things on the last issue now. But yes, I am done.
Nrama: And is Andy drawing the last issue?
Johns: Yes. He is. Honestly, we're just dotting the i's and crossing the t's on the last book.
And you know, we're shipping two issues in August. Issue #4 and Issue #5 both come out in August, which is cool.
I think it's great to have four months of "BAM!" here's Flashpoint! Here's the story! It's a great ride, and then we're on to the next thing. I think it's great that it's quick, fast.
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