Here we go, into the second wave of issues in DC’s Flashpoint event! If you need to catch up, you can read about Flashpoint #1 here. Write-ups on #2, as well as the first issues of all the tie-ins covered in this post, can be found here.
All caught up? Great, let’s forge onward!
As its cover subtly implies, this issue will reveal more information about the military’s “Project Superman,” which we first learned a little bit about last week. We have some other ground to cover before we get to that though, so be patient, my pets.
To begin with, we all know that Flashpoint Cyborg is an agent of the US government, and this issue opens with him having a telephone conversation with his buddy President Barack Obama. This discussion doesn’t go well… Obama apologetically fires Cyborg from his mission to recruit a team of superheroes to participate in the war effort, citing the fact that – other than Cyborg himself – America just doesn’t trust superhumans. On top of that, the president has even more bad news – apparently there is a traitor among the ranks of the heroes Cyborg has put together! Although the identity of this traitor is unknown to Cyborg and Barack, we readers immediately learn who it is:
Poor Element Girl. She just can’t catch a break.
Next, we cut back to Batman and Barry Allen. As you might remember, the last issue of Flashpoint ended on a cliffhanger, when Barry made a retarded attempt to recreate the incident that gave him his powers. This experiment proved to be a spectacular failure which left Barry’s entire body severely burned. It was a hilarious and awesome deviation from expectations, which is why it’s so disappointing that it’s rendered entirely irrelevant within the first few pages of issue #3. Barry simply gives it a second try, and ten minutes later he’s got his powers back, his body has healed, and he’s even back in costume.
Lame Lame Lame!!!
We then briefly cut, for no apparent reason, to Lois Lane sneaking through the sewers of New Themyscira searching for the elusive “Resistance.” I am a bit confused as to how this fits into the story’s chronology, because when we last left Lois, she had already made contact with a member of the Resistance. But now she meets them again for the first time, and we finally learn who their mysterious leader is:
It’s Grifter from the WildC.A.T.S! That’s hilarious. This seems to be the first step in an aggressive effort to integrate characters from the Wildstorm Universe into the DCU, a plan which will culminate in several Wildstormy books come September. Some of my nerdy comic book friends are very upset about this, but without having read any of the original comics, I just love this idea conceptually. Some of DC’s most awesome and enduring characters (such as Blue Beetle, Plastic Man, and Captain Marvel) were originally integrated into the universe in similar ways, so I just think this sort of thing is part of DC’s legacy of universe-expanding. But anyway, yeah, Grifter is the leader of the Resistance and the Canterbury Cricket is wearing a diaper.
We cut back to Barry and Thomas, and my favorite part of their quality time in the Batcave is checking out what Batman has on his bookshelf:
UFOs Are Real. Bigfoot. Abduction. Repair You. Sharks. Raiders. So many classics!!
Anyway, Barry has somehow come to the conclusion that to set things right, he must recreate the Justice League of America. To this end, he and Batman reach out to Cyborg for help in locating this universe’s version of Superman. Batman gets Cyborg to play along by claiming that he does want to participate in Cyborg’s war effort after all:
Pretty tricky, Batman! But it works, and pretty soon Cyborg has hacked enough government databases to learn that the rocket that crash landed 30 years ago was transferred to a secret facility in Metropolis dubbed “Project: Superman,” and that the baby inside became known as “Subject 1.” Cyborg, perhaps still feeling the sting of Obama’s recent rejection, insists on accompanying Barry and Batman to the location and helping them break in.
It’s off to Metropolis, and apparently ultra-top-secret labs are really easy to sneak into through the sewers, because that is exactly what our heroes do. Before locating “Subject 1,” they first encounter this heap o’ sadness:
Awwwwww, poor Krypto! Between this and Superman #712… fuck you, DC!!
So the Flash and his Justice League of Elseworlds finally locate “Subject 1” and, well, check it out:
Yes, this is Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton, who has apparently been locked away in this underground cell since he was recovered from his spaceship as an infant. His limited activity and lack of interaction with other human beings has left him pale and emaciated, looking more like the Sandman than Superman. Batman is all like, “This is the most powerful being on the planet??” and it’s interesting to realize that while Superman is a given part of the DCU to us, to them he’s just some freak that they were pestered into rescuing by a weirdo with a lightning fetish.
While The Flash and company are all busy being shocked and dismayed, they get snuck up on by some of the facility’s armed guards, so they quickly grab Superman and battle their way out of there. It’s worth noting that this seems to be the same facility where the Creature Commandos were held in suspended animation in Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown:
Anyway, our heroes manage to make their way to the surface, and for the first time in his life, Superman gazes upon the yellow sun of Earth.
Supes begins hovering almost immediately, and when some of the guards catch up to them, he heat-visions the fuck out of one of them. But this is all a little bit too much excitement for poor lil’ Kal-El – he panics and flies the fuck away, leaving his noble rescuers surrounded and at gunpoint. TO BE CONTINUED, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!
FLASHPOINT: BATMAN KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #2
Spoiler Warning: This book ends with a huge surprise that I am going to totally fuck up for you. The reveal is very cool, but was also very confusing for me in ways that I’ll talk about later. For now, just be warned: spoily spoilers are spoiling ahead.
To be honest, not a lot happens in this issue. Jim Gordon and the Penguin whine to each other a whole lot about how hard it is to be friends with Thomas Wayne. When Oracle contacts Jim claiming to have information on the whereabouts of the Joker, he goes to pay her a visit. But before you get too stoked about some kind of father-daughter Kodak moment – in this universe, wouldn’t ya know it, Selina Kyle is Oracle!
We are then treated to each and every tiny bit of boring minutia regarding the investigation, from an abandoned clown car to the interrogation of bartender Renee Montoya to some bit of nonsense about a pizza the Joker ordered… it’s all pointless, and is very clearly padding. Finally all of this CSI: Gotham bullshit leads to the discovery that the Joker is hiding out in the dilapidated ruins of Wayne Manor. Gordon goes to scope it out, and this issue finally gets kinda cool.
Gordon sneaks into the mansion, creeps up the stairs to the second floor and, peeking into a room, sees the shadowy figure of the Joker looming before him! He opens fire, and…
…he murders Harvey Dent’s daughter!!!! This type of Joker trick has been used before (most notably in The Dark Knight), but it’s good enough to stand up to multiple performances. Besides, Jim fucking Gordon just shot a little child dead and that’s just so fucking cool. And then, you guys you guys, guess what happens next?? The Joker slashes Gordon’s throat, killing him!! This shit just got dark.
A moment later, Batman finally shows up and it’s time for this issue’s big reveal:
Martha Wayne is The Joker. That is beyond awesome, but at first this reveal was a serious head-scratcher for me, for two reasons:
1 – I thought Martha was killed at the same time as Bruce! Looking back, I suppose this was a total assumption on my part, based solely on the fact that she was no longer in Thomas’ life. Perhaps Azzarello even wanted readers to assume she was dead, but having to stop and consider all of that took away from the “wow” factor of this twist.
2 – I had no idea that the Flashpoint Joker was anyone other than the regular ol’ Joker. I don’t see any reason why I should have ever even questioned this. The Joker only appears once in the first issue…
…and yeah, her face is all obscured by shadow and whatnot, but I just figured that was mood lighting! And earlier in this issue, it’s sort of implied that there is some unspeakable tension between Batman and The Joker, but jesus fucking christ – it’s Batman and The Joker! There’s always unspeakable tension between these two fuckheads!!
The way the Martha Wayne reveal is set up makes it seem as if the reader was expected to have been wondering about The Joker’s identity from the beginning, but that just wasn’t the case for me. Maybe that’s because I’m a moron, or maybe that’s because Azzarello just can’t write a cohesive fucking story. Probably a bit of both. In any case, this flops as an M. Night Shyamalan twist, but as a regular plot point it’s so fucking cool! Thomas Wayne is Batman and Martha Wayne is The Joker, and I can’t wait to see how that happened!
FLASHPOINT: ABIN SUR GREEN LANTERN #2
It’s crazy how much the characters and costumes in this book look like their counterparts from the Green Lantern movie. That’s not such a bad thing because I think those are a couple of the very few things that horrible movie actually got right, but it’s just a weird way to cross-promote. Wait a minute – what if the movie actually takes place in the Flashpoint universe??? That would make so much sense!
So we start here with a flashback to “many years ago,” when Abin Sur is still training a young Sinestro in the ways of the Green Lantern Corp. As he is teaching the young padawan to do or do not because there is no try, Abin Sur’s hot-ass (and not yet dead) sister shows up to offer the boys some weird fruit. Sinestro takes one look at her and instantly gets a huge purple spaceboner.
With it fully established that Sinestro wants to fuck the shit out of Abin Sur’s sister, we jump back to the present, picking up where Flashpoint: Hal Jordan #1 left off. Abin crashlands his spaceship and asks Hal to help him save the universe, but before Hal can even reply, Cyborg and a bunch of military guys suddenly show up and whisk the alien away.
When Abin Sur is questioned by Cyborg, he acts really strangely. Cyborg asks him if he’s here to help the Earth, and Abin completely contradicts himself within two consecutive panels:
Weird. But I guess Cyborg is desperate enough to build his superhero army that he ignores this wishy-washiness and immediately asks Abin Sur to be on his team. Abin agrees, and this newfound alliance is announced to the world by Cyborg’s best friend Barack Obama:
Is that Hal Jordan there, to Cyborg’s left? What the hell is he doing there?
Having had some serious bro-down time with the president, Abin is now off to Europe to help refugees or something. But before you can say “no evil shall escape my sight,” the stupid ass Guardians of Oa contact him and start bitching him out. They are pissed that he’s ignoring his white-entity-finding mission in favor of superheroing, and threaten to take his ring away if he doesn’t get on the ball. Too bad Green Arrow isn’t around to tell them where we’re at and why.
Abin ignores them of course, but as he’s flying around the ruins of Paris, he runs into another old friend – Sinestro, here to tell his old teacher about the prophecy that Atrocitus foretold.
After this little bit of metacommentary, Sinestro goes on to explain that a being called The Flash might have the ability to alter the timeline. He plans to force The Flash to recreate the universe the way he wants it and, according to Atrocitus’ prophecy, Abin Sur has to die for that to happen!!
Sinestro’s intentions are good and he doesn’t want to have to kill his old friend, but he figures that it won’t matter anyway once the universe is reset, so he fucking ATTACKS. They fight for a little bit and then Sinestro chops off Abin Sur’s hand.
Shllllikk indeed. To be continued.
FLASHPOINT: SECRET SEVEN #2
This is by far the most obtuse of the Flashpoint tie-ins for me, mostly because I’m almost entirely unfamiliar with any of these characters. However, as it is my sworn duty to read it and report my findings, I shall bravely delve into issue #2.
We open with a beautiful young woman named Amy Winston volunteering at a refugee center in California. As she is teaching a bunch of kids how to say “water” in Spanish, she is interrupted by some government agents who just want to ask her a few questions:
It turns out that Ms. Winston is actually Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, which seems to be some sort of She-Ra ripoff character from the 80’s:
Before the agents can ask Amethyst if she’s in league with Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake, she has a severe freakout and starts running around and screaming about how she is only 12 years old. But because she is a member of the new Secret Seven, Amethyst is suddenly spirited away, and gets zapped to a meadow where Shade the Changing Man is hanging out with June Moon. These two ladies take an immediate disliking to one another.
We then cut to a press conference being held by the famous magician Abra Kadabra, the sole purpose of which seems to be talking shit on Shade the Changing Man:
Kadabra refers to the Secret Seven as “an illegal society that has remained hidden even in this time of heightened security concerns,” and goes on to reveal the identities of its members. Three of them are Shade himself, Enchantress and Amethyst. The rest are as follows:
–Raven, who in the regular DCU is a member of the Teen Titans
– Zatanna, a leather clad biker bitch in this reality
Those are the names that Abra Kadabra names when he names names, and you might have noticed that there are only six of them. That’s because the seventh is Kadabra himself, who we see Shade trying (unsuccessfully) to telepathically communicate with.
Whoa. Hey Shade, Amethyst’s mouth may be stupid and immature, but at least it’s not vomiting demons all over the room! Maybe you should worry about your own mouth right now!
But, as it turns out, all of these things are the least of Shade’s concerns, because on the issue’s last page, this happens:
There is nothing not to love about this page! The blood splattered all over the walls, the way the art suddenly and inexplicably changes to an old-school dotty style, the revelation that Shade is killing off the members of his own team. But the coolest and funniest thing about this is that the person who our protagonist just brutally, brutally murdered is this girl:
Man, this shit just got rad as fuck and I can’t wait to read more, but I wish I knew some of these characters a little better. Okay, that’s it, I’m giving myself a homework assignment! Before issue #3 of this miniseries is released, I will read the Shade comic Peter Milligan wrote for Vertigo. You guys, I am going to know so much about Shade the Changing Man next time! Just you wait!
FLASHPOINT: THE WORLD OF FLASHPOINT #2
Continuing from last issue, Traci Thirteen just found out that her father is about to blow up the world in 12 hours, and the two of them get into a big argument about it. He’s like, “The Amazons and Atlanteans need to die” and she’s all, “You’re forfeiting your soul!” and he’s all like, “You do not talk to me that way! I drive a Dodge Stratus!” and she’s like, “I hate you! I’m going to Madame Xanadu’s house!”
But alas – by the time she gets there, Madame Xanadu is dying! With blood pouring from her eyes, Xanadu tells Traci that she must go explore the world and learn why it’s worth saving. The dying fortune-teller sends Traci on a magical mystery tour of the planet, zapping her from place to place so she can live and learn and love.
At this point, the book sort of stops being about Traci and becomes more of a series of vignettes that focus on previously unexplored pockets of Flashpoint Earth, and the characters who reside in them. I guess with a title like The World of Flashpoint, I should have seen that coming.
Traci’s first stop is a robot factory in Tokyo, where she meets a heartbreakingly lonely Red Tornado. The Tornado’s programming is incomplete and he is patiently waiting for his creator to finish him so he can join his brother robots in defending Japan. There’s just one problem:
Robots never understand death, and it chokes me up every time!! Traci doesn’t have time to shed any tears for the mechanical man, however, because she is soon magiczapped off to Nazi-occupied Brazil, where she meets the “anarchist liberator” Nat Irons.
After receiving that bit of chicken soup for the soul, Traci’s off to Africa where she is captured by Gorilla Grodd’s army and put before a firing squad. She is saved at the last minute, when one of the gorillas’ slaves, Beast Boy, decides to rebel against his masters. He does this by turning into an insect, flying into a gorilla’s mouth, and…
Damn. I gotta say, a lot of these Flashpoint books are a hell of a lot more violent than I’m used to from mainstream superhero books. It’s great!!
This goes on and on, folks. Next up is Australia, where Traci hangs out with bartender Guy Gardner.
Then Antarctica, where she frees an imprisoned Circe.
Finally she’s off to Gotham City to have a heart-to-heart with a young priest. He spews out a bunch of gobbledygook about how Traci is on the path of fate and how she’s learning so much in her travels and blablabla. Whatever, here’s who the priest is:
Thus ends Traci’s spiritual journey of “Hey look it’s that guy I know from other comic books!” Apparently she was supposed to learn some big important truths on this whirlwind tour of the World of Flashpoint. But aside from a bunch of hokey fortune cookie bullshit, all she seems to have really learned is that she totally has to stop her father’s plan, which she already wanted to do before any of this happened!! So yeah, this has all been retarded.
Anyway, Traci goes to step up to her father… but the issue’s big shockeroo cliffhanger is that Dr. Thirteen, the infamous hater of all things magical, is actually magical himself!
Booster Gold #46
Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #2
Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager #2
Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #2
Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2