Okay, after this week’s books, all the flashpieces will be in flashplace, and we will be familiar with all the major flashplayers of this story. Let’s get this flashparty started!
FLASHPOINT: GREEN ARROW INDUSTRIES (ONE-SHOT)
I really love Green Arrow. From Jack Kirby’s goofy bullshit, to the Green Lantern/Green Arrow after school specials of the 1970’s, to the Kevin Smith/Judd-from-The-Real-World era, to Justin Hartley’s stupid fucking face, I love it all! The conceit of the character has always been that Oliver Queen is a bazillionaire, but he’s also an ultra-liberal idealist man of the people. In the Flashpoint universe, the first part is still true but the second part isn’t, so he is re-characterized as a sort of Tony Stark type. And it’s pretty cool.
Before we get to the story, however, we have to take a moment to look at the credits for this issue:
Wait a minute… what is that writer’s name?
Porksak Pichetshote. Pornsak. Pornsak fucking Pichetshote. Holy shit, you have got to be kidding me. With the life this guy must have had, we’re all lucky he’s writing comic books instead of neatly arranging the heads of prostitutes in his freezer. I guess he could be doing both.
Anyway, what does ol’ Pornsak have in store for Oliver Queen? Well, in this universe, Oliver is the head of weapons manufacturer “Green Arrow Industries.” He has a lot of big government contracts, lives the life of a womanizing playboy, and doesn’t have much in the way of a conscience. Yeah, I know… the parallels are so obvious that they might as well have given him an assistant named Bepper Botts, but I kind of like it anyway.
Oliver’s latest project for Green Arrow Industries is harnessing the technology of supervillains and repurposing it as military weaponry.
This is a cool idea. It’s a long-standing trope of comic book supervillains that they invent wackadoo gadgets, but instead of patenting them and making millions, they just use them to rob banks. I like the way that concept is played with here.
While wandering around “Green Arrow Island” (a top-secret private island used solely for weapons testing), Oliver and his chief of security (Roy Harper, who inexplicably appears older than Oliver here) are having a philosophical discussion…
Roy believes in Oliver Queen, you guys. Like, that beneath the morally bankrupt, womanizing dealer of death, there’s a totally great guy deep down. Oliver is more than just some guy who makes missiles. He’s going to do great and inspiring things, and Roy is going to watch him do it!
Nope. On the next page, Roy is dead. Green Arrow Island is under attack, and before Speedy even has the opportunity to get addicted to heroin, he is shuffled off this mortal coil. In fact, the invaders have done away with the entirety of the island’s security. Oliver is pissed, and inspired by Roy’s final words, he decides to fight the bad guys himself.
There is only one intruder left on the island and Oliver is arming up to go after her. In a cute little wink-wink-nod-nod moment, Oliver picks up a bow and arrow and considers bringing it into battle with him, but then he looks at the camera and is all like “naaaah”
Man, that is super corny, even for Flashpoint! But what Oliver does next is pretty rad. He dips into his collection of supervillain weapons, and basically becomes Mega Man:
Ollie finds the remaining assassin, a sassy young female archer, and they battle for a while. Why was the base attacked? To make a long story slightly shorter… before this island was designated as a location specifically used for weapons testing, Green Arrow Industries used to build secret testing facilities in small towns across America. After the company (and its security forces) abandoned those facilities, supervillains raided the fuck out of those towns, in search of their stolen gear. The townsfolk, their homes and families destroyed, are now getting their revenge on Green Arrow Industries.
But that’s not the only megaton this lady drops on Oliver. Check this out:
Apparently at some point in the past, Oliver had a torrid affair with Vixen, and now his philandering ways have come back to bite him in the ass. He is obviously shaken up about this turn of events, but before he can offer a tearful apology or demand a paternity test…
…the Green Arrow reserve teams show up and kill the shit out of his long-lost daughter.
The issue abruptly ends after this, so we never really learn whether or not this experience inspires Oliver Queen to change his wicked ways or turn his corporation into a beautiful superhero or whatever. But this is the last panel…
…so I’m interpreting this callback to mean that Oliver is not going to change. His heart is just too broken. I am not 100% confident that my interpretation is correct, but I doubt my level of confidence in whether I correctly interpreted a Green Arrow comic book will ever become a serious issue in my life, so I’m comfortable with that.
I hope this isn’t the last we hear of Flashpoint Oliver Queen. I can assume his story will get assimilated into the main series, but with only three issues of that book left to go, the list of things it has to incorporate is getting pretty lengthy. Whether or not it continues, this totally works as a fun little stand-alone story. So good job Pornsak, you disgusting son of a bitch.
FLASHPOINT: HAL JORDAN #1
We now shift our attention from Oliver Queen to his one-time roadtrip buddy Hal Jordan. As we know from Flashpoint Abin Sur, Hal Jordan never received the ring in this universe, so his tie-in book poses the question: What happens to the cocky, obnoxious douche if he never learns to harness his own will power? He stays a cocky, obnoxious douche of course!
This story, if you can even call it that, is insanely short once you cut away the time spent establishing a character who has already been established for fifty years. The tale (which is narrated via a letter from Hal to Carol Ferris) begins with our favorite flyboy in his plane, getting ready to undertake some important but unspecified task. He’s no hero for taking on this challenge, he assures us. He’s just doing it because he loves Carol. Aw.
From there, we go into flashback territory that should be mostly familiar to anybody who has heard of Hal Jordan. He watched his father die in a plane crash, he began a decades-long love affair with Carol Ferris peppered with liberal amounts of infidelity, he became an arrogant prick who takes too many chances but dammit he’s a hell of a pilot, blablabla.
He eventually becomes involved in the Amazon/Atlantis war, and is forced to confront his own fears through a trial most of us can probably relate to – fighting a giant talking shark:
You’re probably asking yourself if that’s King Shark attacking our hero, and the answer is, “of course not, idiot” because as you ought to know, King Shark is busy touring Europe in a circus troupe. So this is just some other talking shark.
Anyway, holy shit, this story really goes fucking nowhere so I’m just gonna skip ahead to the end, when Hal encounters Abin Sur’s crashed spaceship and the alien makes this plea to him:
So, to recap, in the crazy alternate up-is-down-and-down-is-up Flashpoint universe, Hal Jordan is a directionless prick until he encounters Abin Sur, who tasks him with an important responsibility that will teach him to be the hero he is destined to be. Exciting fucking stuff.
FLASHPOINT: PROJECT SUPERMAN #1
Thus far, the Flashpoint event has been conspicuously lacking in Superman – not just the character Superman, but also any kind of Krypton-related mythology. That ends here, with Scott Snyder’s Project Superman, which kind of totally fucking rules!
Our story begins 30 years in the past, and does not focus on Kal-El/Clark Kent, but rather on a new character named Neil Sinclair. This dude is an army lieutenant who volunteers to participate in an experiment spearheaded by General Sam Lane.
As is often the case in the regular DCU (not to mention Smallville), General Lane is a dude who is wary as fuck about superheroes. Believing that “metahumans without patriotism” are a serious threat, he recruits Sinclair to become the first military-created superdude. This is how it happens:
Somehow this process gives Sinclair all kinds of crazy superpowers, as well as a Final Fantasy hairdo:
You’re probably already drawing comparisons to Captain America in your head, but it’s how Sinclair reacts to his new abilities that makes this story interesting. In short: he doesn’t react well.
Sinclair continues to eavesdrop on skeleton men until he overhears a conversation about the process by which he’d been superheroe’d – he’d been infused with “Project Six” DNA. Astute readers of the Sense of Right Alliance (or, I suppose, of DC Comics) might remember that Project Six was the codename for the remote-control-Doomsday situation that was going on in Booster Gold #45, which took place 30 years after this story.
The army scientist dudes are worried that Sinclair will eventually become “like something from the vault” (ie, a Doomsday monster), but that doesn’t stop them from using him as a supersoldier in crazy-dangerous military operations. Sure enough, he eventually goes mental, loses control of his abilities, and annihilates his own support team in the middle of a mission.
General Lane puts him under severe lockdown while they try to figure out what the hell to do with the monster they created, but Sinclair has decided not to take this lying down:
I don’t know exactly what this dude has in mind, but I do know that when a mysterious spaceship containing a certain superhuman infant crash lands on Earth, he gets totally psyched and sees it as the hand of fate intervening. Now that this baby has arrived, he’ll show them. He’ll show them all!
How will he show them all? No idea. I am not sure what the hell is going on here yet, but I already kind of love this bullshit. What makes this story interesting is that it reads like one of the many darker-edged Superman analogue stories (Watchmen, Irredeemable, Supreme Power, etc.), except that it involves the mythology of the actual Superman! What would happen if a dude like Hyperion or the Plutonian actually got their fates entangled with that of the real Kal-El of Krypton? This story feels like it’s gonna explore that kind of thing, and I’m excited to see where it goes!
I’ve never been more intrigued by just two words written on a dumbass checklist. Since the original Flashpoint checklist was released, I’ve been stoked to find out more about the mysterious book known as Flashpoint: Canterbury Cricket, and now it’s finally arrived! Did it live up to the hype that I built up for it in my head? Fuck yeah it did!
So who is the Canterbury Cricket? Well, he’s a giant fucking cricket, and he’s one of the most charmingly old school comic book characters I’ve seen in a long time.
Our story begins with a group of the UK’s resistance movement traveling along Pilgrims’ Way, in an attempt to protect the historic road from Amazon invaders. This clan of merry men and women includes:
Aside from the Demon, a perennial favorite of mine, the coolest character in this bunch is Jinny Greentooth, who is based on a river hag from English folklore. She has a nasty habit of eating her enemies after she kills them, which her fellow adventurers disapprove of… except for Etrigan who, being a demon from Hell and all, doesn’t really see what the big deal is.
Ooooooh, I think they’re in loooooooove.
Anyway, these guys are fighting off some Amazons when suddenly a giant fucking cricket man joins in on the battle! They correctly assume that he is an ally, and after the fighting’s done, they all get to know their new friend around a comfy-cozy campfire:
God I love scenes like this. Anytime a bunch of people sit around a campfire in movies or books, the cockles of my heart get warm as a motherfucker. It makes me wish I could go camping right now!! To make matters even beautifuller, the Canterbury Cricket’s ass naturally plays music – he is a cricket after all! If you want a soundtrack to this comic book, I like to assume it sounds something like this:
As they sit around the fire telling each other their stories, it becomes apparent that this is all just a framing device to relate the Cricket’s origin story, which is pure Silver Age awesomeness.
Jeramey Chriqui was a student at the University of Kent, and a typical BMOC douchebag. When Amazons raided the college campus, Jeramey used one of his girlfriends as a human shield and fled. An Amazon warrior witnessed this act of cowardice and, singling him out for being a spineless pussy, took chase. This pursuit led into the Canterbury Cathedral. Jeramey, cornered, began pathetically begging for his life when all of a sudden the cathedral started crumbling and the Amazon was crushed by falling debris. Then this happened:
Call me a sap if you want, but I find this beautiful. Now that a single cricket in the skull of Saint Swithin has taught young Jeramey Chriqui all about great responsibility, where does the “great power” part come in?
Well, it comes in when the entire cathedral collapses on top of him, and he inexplicably emerges from the rubble as a giant fucking cricket!
Jeramey sees this as a miracle performed by Saint Swithin, but the truth is that this comic offers no real explanation at all for this occurence – it just happens. And that rules so hard! The dude gets crushed by a building and then – POOF – he’s a magical cricket, and that’s all any of us need to know. It’s pure Golden Age nonsense, and if you can’t get behind that, go jump in a lake, nerd.
Jeramey, eager to use his new identity as a chance to redeem himself, then joined up with an insect-themed superhero team called the Ambush Bugs (featuring Queen Bee, Firefly, Blue Beetle, and others). The Ambush Bugs were not destined for greatness, however, as the entire team save for the Cricket were brutally killed in a battle with the Amazons.
And hey, this seems like a good time to stop and point out how fantastic the art of Rags Morales is in this book. Check out this panel of the Canterbury Cricket retreating from the battle that destroyed his team:
Man, this dude is drawing a fucking weird cricketman, and he still manages to convey such a subtle and heartbreaking mixture of emotions in this one image. Grief, rage, helplessness, newfound purpose…. all of that somehow shines through in this stupid drawing of a flying cricket with a gun. That’s fucking crazy. Go you, Rags!
Anyway, thus ends the Canterbury Cricket’s tale, which brings us back to our cozy little campfire. But the serenity doesn’t last much longer, as the team is once again attacked by those stupid goddamn Amazons. Sadly, Etrigan’s girlfriend Jinny is killed during this fight. Hopefully these starstruck lovers can be reunited one day in Hell. For now, however, our story comes to an end with the fellowship of resistance warriors retreating from the battlefield.
In case you couldn’t tell, I am completely enamored by the Canterbury Cricket, and I cannot wait to see him again in the pages of Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance. Still, that’s not enough! I wonder if there will be a place in the DCU’s weird new reboot universe for ol’ Jeramey Chriqui. I sure hope so.
Well, that about wraps up the first 1/3 of the Flashpoint event! Here’s what’s left:
Kill me, please.
Flashpoint: Abin Sur the Green Lantern #2
Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance #2
Flashpoint: Secret Seven #2
Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint #2