Friday, June 3

World of Flashpoint #1 (of 3) (8/11)

In all actuality, only the very end of this post is about this comic. A better title might have been “Further Reflections on DC's Big Announcement.”

A lot of background is necessary....

Since my local comic shop closed well nigh on ten years ago, I have generally gotten my comic books by a mail-order service,, once a month, after the last “New Comic Book Wednesday” of the month. One of the drawbacks of that is that these services (there are several) all require you to pre-order your issues a couple months in advance just like comic shop retailers do. In other words, the order that will be due at the end of this month (June) will be for comics that go on sale in the month of August, and I therefore won't get them until probably Friday 2 September or maybe even Tuesday 6 September (Monday the 5th being Labor Day). What this means is that I have to base my projection of what I will want on what are called “solicitations,” which for the “Big Two” (DC and Marvel) usually appear on the internet about the middle of the month before that month that the order will be due (i.e., for the current cycle, middle of May) and in the Previews catalog that comes out usually the last Wednesday of that prior month (although sometimes a week after that, as it did last week). Yeah, it's complicated. It also means that it is something of a guessing game, based on the publisher's text in those solicitations. Sometimes I miss out on ordering something that it turns out I'm really interested in getting. What I then do is use my relationship with a couple of comic shops in cities that I visit from time to time to visit family to pick up those “extra” or “missed” issues. Sometimes I just drop in and pick them up; sometimes I email or call them and ask, “Can you hold me a copy of …?”

That's sort of what happened here. I've known about the Flashpoint “event” of this summer for DC Comics for about a year, but as they unrolled the news of what it would encompass over the past few months, culminating in the past couple months' solicitations, I made a decision. In addition to the main Flashpoint miniseries of five issues, there are about fifteen or twenty three-issue ancillary miniseries as well as a number of one-shots and specials. Although I have often gone virtually all-in for these types of events, as I did Blackest Night a couple years ago, this time the prospect of adding twenty or thirty books per month for three or four months to get the “full” story to a pull list already somewhere between 25 and thirty books per month was just too much even for me. I decided just to get that main miniseries, as well as a regular title that was known to be intimately involved in it (Booster Gold – I've been getting it in trade collection rather than monthly anyway, but considering adding it as a monthly). Generally that main series will tell a complete story in itself (as Blackest Night did); sometimes (as the Green Lantern titles did alongside Blackest Night) an “anchoring” regular series will add a great deal to the story; but most of the other ancillaries, while maybe telling interesting stories or looking at events from a different perpective, won't be so integral and can be skipped. Don't get me wrong – I liked almost all the Blackest Night issues and am happy to have them (especially in my library-bound two-volume set of all those issues into one big story … I'll post an entry sometime about my library of bound comic books). But this time I cried “uncle” at the idea of essentially doubling the cost of my monthly order and said I was just going to go minimalist.

Then, long after preorders had to be in for the first three months of Flashpoint titles, the news broke about DC Comics' big renumbering “reset.” The internet is still in a bit of a tizzy about what it all means, what's actually going to happen. Rumors are flying; news is being broken one day and refuted the next. But I've given it a bit of thought and have some theories. I may think totally different in 24 hours, but here's my feeling right now.

This is not something that they came up with on the spur of the moment. This has been in the works for a while. Flashpoint is being overseen by Geoff Johns, DC's chief creative officer (I think that's his title). He has a proven record of being able to reconcile contradictory backstories into one cohesive whole, to incorporate all of DC's rich history into modern stories, making old things seem new and new things seem old – in a good way, in the sense that utterly new concepts slide right in and seem almost to have always been part of that rich history. I think that's what's going on here. I don't think that come September we'll see a full “reboot” of all of DC's characters back to the beginning of their careers. They've been pretty clear on that, that their characters won't be just starting out, but younger, earlier versions. Not exactly sure what that means, but as of today enough has been said to make clear that some things like recent developments in the Green Lantern circle of titles will still have happened. I never saw it in a news release, but a couple days ago on a Facebook page someone posted that the author of the most recent arc of Detective Comics said that that story will still be in continuity – I presume that means we will still have Dick Grayson as Batman, therefore the multiple Batmen, therefore the whole death and return of Bruce Wayne, therefore all of Grant Morrison's last five or so years of Batman stories, plus Final Crisis … all that is jumping to a lot of conclusions and may be totally wrong, I know, but I think it stands to reason they would not negate all that considering how popular it has proven to be. There is, however, a lot that has happened in the past few years that did not meet with such acclaim. I think that Flashpoint is being carefully crafted, by a proven master, to strip away concepts that haven't worked, adapt and streamline those that have, and put them back together into a cohesive whole. I think that a lot is going to survive. Some things will not. Understandably, not everyone is going to be happy with the result. I probably won't be happy with every facet. I'll probably be enraged by some decisions that DC goes with. There's just no way to know right now. I'm cautiously hopeful that I'll like the result, overall, however.

But Flashpoint, which I think we all knew was going to have some lingering effects (at least that's what DC's been telling us), suddenly seems to me to be a lot more critical in bridging from here to there than I thought it would be. Unfortunately, the economics of buying all those “extra” issues is still daunting – as well as the reality that the pre-order deadline is well past. But I have decided to pick up a couple of the ancillary series that at least seem maybe a bit more integral.

I've decided to go with Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost, because Flashpoint is a Flash-centered event (in the same way that Blackest Night was a Green Lantern-centric event – except this time the Flash title was discontinued and essentially replaced by Flashpoint). As far as I can tell, just like the solicits have seemed to indicate that “our” Booster Gold will be caught up in the new world of Flashpoint just like Barry Allen Flash is, so will Kid Flash (I presume Bart Allen), whereas most if not all of the other specials and miniseries seem to be about denizens of that Flashpoint universe. I've asked a comic shop to hold the issues of Kid Flash Lost for me as they come out and I'll pick them up whenever I'm in town.

Second, when I was in that shop on this past Wednesday, I picked up the first issue of World of Flashpoint – mainly based on the title which seems to indicate it will be about that Flashpoint universe overall (and I asked him to hold issues two and three). How integral it may end up being remains to be seen, but having read it now I'm not sorry I picked it up.

A little more background. When I was at that same shop about three weeks ago, I managed to grab a copy of Flashpoint #1, which I have preordered and will come with my May shipment (which UPS says is scheduled to be delivered on Monday). I will therefore have two copies, but I really wanted to go on and see what Flashpoint was all about even then. (I also intended to give one of the copies to a friend whom I convinced to pick the series up too late to preorder the first issue; turned out he had already placed a back-issue order to get it. Ah well.) Having read Flashpoint #1, I therefore know the basic situation – that Barry Allen has suddenly found himself in a world where he no longer has his power of super-speed, where the heroes and villains are very different than what he's familiar with, where the world itself has changed, with Atlantis and the Amazons locked in a war that is destroying the world. Barry immediately heads for the go-to-guy to set things straight – Batman – but is startled to find out Batman is not exactly who he thought he was.

World of Flashpoint #1, “This is the World We Live In,” centers around a character with whom I was not familiar, a young mystic named Traci 13, who with her father survived the destruction of northern Europe but now finds herself opposed to his role in a plot to end the war between Atlantis and the Amazons by wiping out both of the antagonists in one fell swoop. I don't recall reading anything by any of the creators of this comic, but I quite enjoyed it. Although I'd never “met” Traci 13, I was caught up in her story and am anxious to see what happens next. And hopefully it will give me a little more insight into the totality of the Flashpoint event.


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