Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Andy Kubert
This was another great issue of Flashpoint. It opens with President Obama addressing the nation, which is unusual for DC, as they typically avoid portraying the real commander in chief in favor of a fictional counterpart.
The President announces that superhumans have failed to contain the continent-devastating conflict between the Amazonian and Atlantean empires. We see that the Flashpoint version of the Marvel Family is watching at home and debating whether or not they should get involved. Johns introduces an interesting component to this alternate Marvel Family. Much like Captain Planet and his Planeteers, the Flashpoint Marvel Family must shout Shazam as a group in order to collectively transform into Captain Thunder. This necessity means that they must unanimously agree to change into Captain Thunder. It’s a clever conceit that forces Billy Batson, Freddy Freeman, Mary Batson, and three new members of the Marvel Family (or should I say Thunder Family?) , Eugene, Darla, and Pedro to deliberate on their course of action instead of flying off individually.
The president declares that since the superhumans couldn’t band together to deal with the Amazonian/Atlantean war, the rest of us will have to step up to the plate. We get a one page scene depicting a Hal Jordan that never became Green Lantern as he gets ready to fly into battle. It’s a little bit unnecessary, but Johns shows us here that Hal Jordan would always be fearless, with or without a power ring to back up his bravado.
The next scene picks up where we left off last issue. The Flash, Batman and Cyborg were abandoned by the Superman they just freed from a government facility. The trio are fighting armored goons equipped with the firepower necessary to bring down a Kryptonian, when Element Woman suddenly comes to their aid. Meanwhile, The Flash begins to experience lightning-infused seizures that are slowly erasing his memory of the “real” DC Universe. It seems there is a time limit on The Flash’s ability to recall the reality he came from. This ticking clock (which counts down as the Flash’s memories fade away) is another clever addition to the Flashpoint arc. It lends a sense of urgency to the situation while moving the plot forward and injecting some excitement into the story.
We see in the following scene that The Flash and company go to the Marvel Family in an attempt to recruit Captain Thunder. Here, Billy Batson gets a glimpse into the life he lives in the regular DCU as he tries to heal The Flash’s degenerating memories. That visual refresher course on the Captain Marvel mythos is followed by the televised reveal that Hal Jordan was killed in combat against a fleet of invisible Amazonian jets. I have to admit that even though this death doesn’t even pretend to be permanent, I still found myself crying out to the heavens in despair upon reading that “The first verified casualty is pilot Hal ‘High Ball’ Jordan”. Barry finding out that his best friend just died is yet another clever way for Johns to move the plot forward, as things start spin even further out of control in this already dystopian universe.
The issue culminates with the entire gang flying to Europe in Batman’s plane to confront Wonder Woman and Emperor Aquaman. This scene is quite impressive, as Kubert gives us an awesome double page spread of this more militant Aquaman fighting a warrior princess Wonder Woman to the death. Kubert’s depiction of the battle is an amazing vision of two normally majestic and peaceful civilizations engaged in a brutal war.
I’ll avoid getting too deep into the specifics of plot details and just say that we finally see the Reverse Flash revealed in one of the most fitting and funny lines in supervillain history. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say it’s basically the supervillain equivalent of telling Barry to stop hitting himself. I felt that this taunt perfectly summed up the Reverse Flash’s whole crazed, obsessive vendetta against Barry Allen in one hilarious word balloon.
I’m enjoying Flashpoint, and this issue in particular. Yes, it’s an alternate universe. Yes, you could make the argument that the plot isn’t “real” and might have no lasting ramifications on these characters. However, it’s a fun jaunt through a darker and more dystopian DCU. It’s not a comic that forces you to think like Final Crisis, but I think a little mindless and engaging superhero fun certainly has its place.