DC’s 52 relaunch finally came to fruition this morning (08/31/2011) with the release of Flashpoint #5 and the first issue of DC’s new relaunch, Justice League #1. The aforementioned comic books are the only two comics being released this week by DC; the rest of the DC relaunch titles will be hitting comic book stands throughout the month of September.
Like so many other comic book aficionados I was at my local comic book shop, Merlyn’s, and in line for my copies of Flashpoint and Justice League. My initial reaction when DC first announced their plans for a complete reboot of the DC Universe was optimistic, but as more and more details have surfaced within the last couple of weeks my optimism has slowly whittled away. However, after reading the conclusion to Flashpoint #5 I was pleasantly surprised and Justice League #1 has the potential to be great if carefully handled.
Flashpoint #5 continues directly from the last panel of Flashpoint #4. In the finale of Flashpoint #4 the Reverse-Flash finally presents himself to Barry Allen also known as the Flash. At the beginning of Flashpoint #5 the Reverse-Flash explains to the Flash the root cause of ‘Flashpoint’ and why the universe has suddenly changed with the Flash and the Reverse-Flash being the only entities that notice the alteration. In a stunning revelation that is depicted through a series of fractured flashbacks, which is described as being physically painful for the Flash, the reader is shown how the world of Flashpoint was created and why the timeline has deviated. Surprisingly enough the real culprit is not the Reverse-Flash and even though he receives much benefit and gain from the altered timeline he did not cause it.
After this disclosure, the Reverse-Flash claims to be separate from the timeline, which would allow him to kill Barry Allen without harming his own existence. However, Batman who lays nearby, due to injuries, has plans of his own and ends the Reverse-Flash’s scheme before it hatches.
Now that the Flash knows the truth he begins to hatch an idea of his own and proceeds to right his wrongs by using the Speedforce to correct the timeline in order to save the world from destroying itself. Like a lightning rod the Flash is drawn to his mother during a mad dash to the past. After conversing with his mother and explaining the events that have led to the point of his arrival he begins his journey once more with a heavy and saddened heart. As he runs through time a mysterious, unnamed woman presents herself and aids the Flash in combining the three timelines that exist into one a single timeline. One that strengthens the universe, instead of splintering it.
After this jarring event, Barry Allen awakes in a new world at the crime lab where he works. He immediately seeks the council of his friend, Batman. After explaining the events of Flashpoint to Bruce he presents him with a letter from his father, Thomas Wayne who wore the mantle of Batman in the world of Flashpoint, to prove his tale to his closest friend and ally. After Bruce reads the letter from his dead father the issue ends with a Bat in tears and removed from his cowl.
Justice League #1
Justice League #1 begins with Thomas Wayne as Batman being chased by paramilitary helicopters in Gotham City as he chases a dangerous extraterrestrial. In the midst of the shootout Hal Jordan, as the Green Lantern, shows up saves Batman, destroys the helicopters, and teams up with Batman to chase down the newly transformed alien. As the two plunge into the under dark of Gotham City the creature sets, what appears to be a bomb, upon the sewer wall. Hal blindly charges the creature in order to stop it from detonating the device, but ultimately the bomb goes off anyhow killing the alien. Protected by one of Hal’s constructs Batman and the Green Lantern then proceed to banter about another alien that resides in Metropolis who might be able to help them figure who the suicidal, transformer extraterrestrial might be.
From this scene the first issue of the Justice League then segues to a high school football game where a young Cyborg successfully wins another game. In the stands the woman who helped the Flash combine the three timelines is depicted watching Victor’s football game. At the same time Victor is conversing with his father over the phone after the game, while talent scouts fight over him, the Green Lantern and Batman locate Superman. While Hal cockily tells Batman how he is going to wrangle Superman into place a young Kal-El blurs out of the building and easily puts Hal to the ground with smirk of his own. The issue closes with a great piece of art showcasing the new Kal-El.
A sense of youth and mystique is casually sprinkled throughout the issue. When the Green Lantern finds Batman he is stunned that he actually exists. Batman is an urban legend in this new combined timeline and few believe he actually exists. Hal is obviously very young and full of vim and vigor akin to his pre-Parallax and Silver Age self. The brief introduction of Vic as he victoriously leads his school to another win provides the impression that he has yet to become Cyborg and his knowledge as well as the rest of the population’s knowledge of superheroes, is moot at best. Superman has only recently outed himself as a superhero and most people and other underground heroes and villains are afraid him because of his immense power. Even Batman remarks to Hal about Superman’s dangerous amount of power. A power that Hal finds himself underestimating at first contact with the Man of Steel.
Personally I thought that the writing of both comics was superb. I particularly enjoyed the final issue of Flashpoint. I think that Geoff Johns is a talented writer. The twists and turns, as well as the lead up to the conclusion, were all executed very well. The writing for Justice League #1 was solid and it seems as if DC will be focusing more on the interpersonal relationships of the characters and their development in order to flesh out more detailed personalities and relationships. Considering the amount of information required to reboot an entire fictional universe the first issue of the Justice League was a solid start and if continually written properly could yield amazing results. However, on the flip side it could also be very easily bungled and DC could lose fans. I do have high hopes though and I think that after the first Justice League arc wraps up we will be able to see the overall direction of DC as well as its sustainability.
The artwork for Flashpoint as a whole is phenomenal. The color really pops and Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope did an excellent job of creating numerous pieces of eye candy. As a writer, usually the story stands out for me rather than the art, but in the case of Flashpoint the art outpaced the story arc more often than not. The artwork for the first issue of Justice League #1 was spectacular! Jim Lee is a living legend and the characters possess a youthful appearance that is apparent even without the Geoff John’s masterful storytelling. The coloration is splendid and bright, which catches the readers eye.
Overall my impressions of the two comic books is favorable; however, I know that I will be purchasing less DC comics in the long run. With so many restarts my budget unfortunately cannot afford fifty-two new series. I would highly recommend these two titles, especially to newcomers. The entire DC relaunch is geared for new readers, so if you have had any inklings to read DC this would be the most opportune time.
Again, thanks for reading my synopsis and review of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1! Check back here for more DC relaunch coverage as the new 52 releases throughout the month.