Watching The Flash‘s brilliant first season has piqued my interest in the original source material for the Scarlet Speedster. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the five-part mini-series Flashpoint sitting in a collected edition on my library’s shelf. I’d heard good things about it from the animated version (which I haven’t seen yet) and from a bookmark my library was giving away with a listing of essential DC graphic novels (or collected comics, if you prefer that term).
Barry Allen wakes up one day to find the world has entirely changed. Superman isn’t on the scene, Wonder Woman and Aquaman are leading their respective peoples in a battle for dominance of the Earth and Batman isn’t Batman. Add to all this that Barry doesn’t have his powers, but he has memories of having them. Turns out Barry went back in time to save his mother from dying and sent the entire world as we know it on an entirely different time line. Of course, there is a nefarious force at work behind all of this, manipulating Barry into doing this but that reveal doesn’t come until the end of the fourth issue.
The real highlights of this issue are the first and the last one. The first one creates a sense of paranoia and the “something ain’t right feeling” that permeates many of the best episode of modern Trek. The cliffhanger to end part one is a thing of beauty and one of those moments that really make you take a step back and look at just how different this world that Barry has created is. The other moment comes at the end when Barry has “put right what once went wrong” and made the leap back to his DC universe and his delivery of a note from a father to a son. It’s a moment that is completely and totally moving and one that’s earned by much of the story and history that has come before.
In between these two moments, there’s a lot of story and a lot of getting the band together as Barry and this reality’s Batman must assemble the Justice League to try and stop Aquaman and Wonder Woman. In many ways, this universe feels like the timeline Biff created when he stole the Sports Almanac and gave it to his younger self in Back to the Future, Part II.
I will admit I did question why the big bad of this whole plot bothers to show up and gloat over Barry, though I suppose if he didn’t, we couldn’t have three or four pages of exposition told to us and everything neatly explained. Part of me feels like the story was rushed at points, while other parts it felt like things were taking too long. An entire issue devoted to Barry getting his powers back feels a bit too much, but there are some ideas (like the fact that Superman has been kept locked up and out of the sunlight for many years) that feel like they’re not given the time they need to fully breath. I’m not one who usually thinks that a comic book storyline should be expanded (quite frankly, it feels like too many these days are expanded just to sell more issues) but in the case of Flashpoint perhaps a bit more exploration of the alternate universe might have been nice or given the story a bit more depth.
In the end, the story is enjoyable enough despite a few weaknesses. I tried to read this collected comic in single issue installments and not all at once. I think the story may have benefited from that a bit.