Flashpoint: Week 5

I’m almost all caught up with my Flashpoint backlog, which is great because I have some non-Flashpoint-related posts that I’m excited to get to.  Look forward to those, but for now here are the books from last week.

Though it sounds like the name of a shitty Motown band, Wonder Woman and the Furies is actually the story of the ill-fated arranged marriage between Wonder Woman and Aquaman, which eventually led to a world-shaking conflict between their two civilizations.

We begin fourteen years ago, with young Diana of Themyscira anxious to venture away from her island home and experience what the rest of the world has to offer.  To satisfy this wanderlust, she builds a tiny canoe and sails off aimlessly into the vast ocean.  This journey doesn’t go so well:

After the kraken is released, a dashing young Arthur Curry of course shows up to save the day.  He immediately has a giant throbbing fishboner for Diana, and when she succumbs to krakenpoison, he takes her down to Atlantis to cure her.

The normally man-hating and isolationist Amazons are so grateful for this act of kindness that they extend the hand of friendship and alliance to Atlantis.  Despite seeming incredibly out of character for the Amazons, this actually makes a lot of sense, as the two cultures have a shitload in common.  Diana puts it best:

This union of cultures is cemented with an arranged marriage between Diana and Arthur, and then this book pretty much turns into Game of Thrones.

We skip ahead in time to “one year ago,” to the royal wedding of Diana and Arthur, who were apparently engaged for thirteen years.  The whole world is now aware of the existence of Themyscira and Atlantis, and everyone’s eyes are fixed on the wedding ceremony.

Everything is going swimmingly (lol!), but then this happens:

This assassination attempt is meant for Diana, but her mother Hippolyta gets killed instead.  The book wastes no time in letting us know who the killers are: Artemis and Penthesilia of the Amazons worked together with Ocean Master of Atlantis to orchestrate the assassination, both of them wanting to prevent this unnatural melding of their cultures.  When Aqualad discovers that they are behind it all, Artemis kills him and frames him for the killing.  The Amazons kick the Atlantians the fuck off of Themyscira, and the seeds of war are sown.

I dig this book for the historical perspective and aristocratic intrigue it offers; this and Emperor Aquaman work really well as companion pieces to each other.  I’ve been super into Game of Thrones lately, so maybe I’m just in the perfect mood for this kind of story… The Houses of Wonder and Aqua shall become one, and all that.  But I sort of wish that Arthur and Diana actually loved each other, instead of the book making it exceedingly clear that this was simply a political union.  I feel like the “passionate romance gone tragically wrong” angle would have added a hell of a lot more emotional weight to the eventual war.  Maybe I’m just a big old girl.

I’d like to know who the hell decided to call this book Legion of Doom.  It’s not about the Legion of Doom.  The Legion of Doom is not in it, at least not in this first issue.  The Legion of Doom is never mentioned.  This is a story about the Flashpoint universe version of Heatwave, pyromaniac and minor Flash villain.   It is a pretty stupid story, but I’ll assume you already guessed that.

I will say this in the book’s favor: for the first few pages, it’s pure fun, and one of the most comic bookiest comic books I’ve read in a while.

First Heatwave murders half of Firestorm:

Then Cyborg shows up, and the two of them have a totally classic superhero vs. supervillain battle across the city, filled with massive destruction and hilarious one-liners.  I mean, just check out some of this epic quippage:

Unfortunately, this tale gets significantly boringer as we jump ahead six months.  Heatwave is incarcerated in Queens Row Penitentiary, and he’s having a pretty shitty time.  He can’t walk ten feet without being buttraped by his fellow inmates, prison guard Amazo is always out to get him, and perhaps worst of all he’s scheduled to be executed in 24 hours!

For some reason, the guards stick him in solitary confinement for the night to “teach him a lesson,” which doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense since he’s going to be killed tomorrow.  Heatwave apparently spends his night in solitary thinking about the prison, because we get are then treated to a lengthy dose of exposition.

But waaaaait a minute… reading the segment totally makes me realize that the title Legion of Doom is probably meant as a dumb-ass metaphor for the prison.  What was my first clue?  Well, the fucking facility looks like this:

For those of you who haven’t seen Challenge of the Superfriends, here is what the “Hall of Doom” looked like on that show:

If that’s too subtle for you, well check out Heatwave’s description of the place:

Virtually a legion of… oh jesus fuck, shut up!  Anyway, here are some more fun facts about the prison:

-It is owned by “Green Arrow Industries,” which is probably why it’s called Queens Row.  At first I thought it was located in Queens, NY!
-Any metahumans who enter the prison have their powers laser-botomized out of them by Amazo.
-In spite of that, metahumans and regularhumans segregate themselves within the prison population, forming separate gangs.
Mr. Zsasz is locked up in there too.  Yay!

Anyway, right up to the day of his scheduled execution, Heatwave is still planning to break out and get his revenge on Cyborg, even though everyone keeps telling him it’s impossible to escape.  But Heatwave knows that a man can either get busy living or get busy dying, so he has a plan.  And to be fair, it turns out to be the awesomest plan in the history of getting busy living.

You see, Heatwave has somehow arranged to have his friend Cluemaster imprisoned and assigned as his cellmate.  I am not sure why Cluemaster would agree to this, but whatever.  Anyway, shortly after Cluemaster arrives, this happens to him:

Yeah, the surprisingly intense violence is obviously fantastic, but have you figured out what’s going on yet???  Well it’s kind of like when the Beagle Boys’ mother sent them a cake with a file in it, except instead of the cake, it’s Cluemaster, and instead of the file, its…

Okay fine, Flashpoint: Legion of Doom, you got me.  You played the fucking Plastic Man card and you got me.  Plas was a smalltime crook before he became a superhero, so it totally makes sense that he’d be a bad guy in the Flashpoint universe, and I’m psyched to see a version of the character who is this dark and ruthless.  Holy shit I can’t believe another boring and stupid Flashpoint tie in totally won me over on the last page.  I am such a sucker.

Anyway, yeah, it appears that “Legion of Doom” is just a ridiculous metaphor for the prison and its inmates.  That could turn out to be cool, I guess, but if you’re tuning in because you’re a big fan of the actual Legion of Doom, prepare for even more disappointment than when you saw that one Smallville episode.

First of all, this is one of the coolest comic book covers I have ever seen, so fuck you and your stupid goddamn Green Lantern banner, DC!  Arghhhhghhhhfuckshitrrrgh!!!  Okay, please pardon me while I trade out the red ring of rage for the chartreuse ring of temperance.

Okay, all better now.  So anyway, there’s a traveling circus troupe, and they’re trapped in Europe because of the war.  Members of the circus include trapeze artists (Boston Brand and the Grayson family), freaks (King Shark and Rag Doll), and a fortune teller (Doctor Fate).

Before we dive into this story, check this out:

Lol, “perfect dick” lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

Anyway, to sum up the characterizations at play here:  Boston Brand is the star of the show, and he’s a cocky son of a bitch who is too much of a primadonna to pull his weight with the circus shitwork.  The Graysons are a wonderful, loving family and they wonderfully love each other.  Doctor Fate is yet another Lost Season 6 character who has a feeling that reality is all wrong:

Doctor Fate keeps behaving strangely… having mysterious visions, screaming at Boston that death haunts him, and just sort of generally being creepy like whoa. But the circus has bigger problems than Dr. Weirdo being a weirdo… it turns out that a group of Amazon warriors are following them around Europe, pillaging every town they pass through for information on the whereabouts of an item they’re searching for:

…and of course it’s all Doctor Fate’s fault.

The issue ends with the Amazons preparing to storm the circus as the Graysons are in the middle of performing their death-defying trapeze act.  Surely this development won’t lead to tragic death!  Not for the Grayson family!  Stay tuned…
I’ve saved today’s best for last.  Grodd of War is by far my favorite Flashpoint tie-in title so far, and I’d even go so far to say that it’s one of the best single issues I’ve read this year.

Two of my favorite comic stories of all time are The Killing Joke and Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, so you can probably guess that I am a total sucker for psychological character studies of supervillains.  Despite the fact that it takes place in an alternate universe, I actually think Grodd of War might have a place among those classics.  But what it brings to mind the most, in its ability to be heart-breakingly tragic and totally fucking hilarious simultaneously, is Paul Cornell’s recent Luthor-focused run on Action Comics.  That’s high praise.

I actually struggled with whether or not I should do my usual synopsis thang for this particular book, partly because I don’t think I could do it justice, but mostly because I think everybody should go out and read it instead of having it spoiled by my dumb ass.  I’m gonna go on, but if you have even a passing interest in stories about comic book villains, I urge you to stop reading this garbage and check out the issue right the fuck now.

In this book, Gorilla Grodd is a vicious warlord who has taken over the entire African continent, but like Alexander the Great, he now feels empty without any worlds left to conquer.  Grodd lusts for power and wealth, of course, but now that he has them, it’s not nearly enough.  He needs opposition to crush.  He needs the screams of those he’s conquered to echo through history.  He needs blood on his hands, and he needs his own blood on his enemies’ hands.  He needs the entire world to kneel before Grodd, and if that can’t happen he might as well be dead.

Grodd’s right-hand man Malavar thinks his leader should be more than satisfied with controlling an entire fucking continent, but still he is constantly tasked with catering to Grodd’s insane whims.  When Grodd  proclaims his desire for immediate violence, Malavar sets up a battle against Congorilla.  His description of Congorilla is awesome:

“Though magic or something.”  Ha!

Grodd brutally, brutally beats Congorilla to death, but his boner for blood still has blue balls, so he demands to be taken to “the human leader in Cape Town,” so he can kill him.  On the road to Cape Town, Grodd encounters a group of rebel children and, well…

I don’t know, maybe I am just easily impressed or something.  But holy fuck, this is great, great stuff.

After this charming interlude, Grodd goes on to Cape Town as planned and murders the human leader (who happens to be Catman).  I say “murders” as if he poisoned his tea or something, but what really happened was that Grodd ripped his entire head off with the spine still attached like in Mortal Kombat.

Still deeply unsatisfied, Grodd impulsively decides he’s going to seize Europe, forcing the Amazons and Atlanteans into battle with his gorilla army.  A shocked Malavar insists that such a thing would be suicide.  Grodd’s response?

Fuck.  You know, I’ve always kind of liked Grodd, but mostly because he was a talking gorilla and talking gorillas are hilarious.  But this book makes me think he might become one of my all-time favorite comic book villains.  Is Grodd ever like this in the regular DCU?  If so, which stories should I read?  Someone let me know!

It really is a shame that the best Flashpoint book yet is only a one-shot, but meanwhile we have to read three goddamn issues of Heatwave in prison.  It seems, however, that Grodd’s storyline is going to intersect with the main series at some point down the road, so I’m really looking forward to that!

Well that about does it for this entry, and now I’m finally all caught up.  Until, well, tomorrow… but I will hopefully keep on schedule with this shit from now on.  See you real soon, Flashpointketeers!

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #1
Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #1
Flashpoint: The Outsider #1
Flashpoint: Reverse Flash (one-shot)

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

One response to “Flashpoint: Week 5

  1. Pingback: My Year in Movies, 2013 | The Sense of Right Alliance

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