Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On the end of Flashpoint, and the start of a New Universe

Right, well THAT'S over.

Flashpoint has brought the DCU that I grew up with, the one that all of my childhood memories are connected to, have been brought to an end.  The various books tried to bring their stories to a nice coda, and all told they did a good job.

Flashpoint #5 brought this latest event to an end, and started off the new DC Universe.  While it took place in a world greatly unlike our own, it was ultimately a story of two men, Barry Allen and Thomas Wayne.

Interesting bookend - at two times in his life, Barry causes chaos by attacking the Reverse-Flash in the timestream.  Once by "killing" him in the original run of his book, and now by trying to undo the massive changes Thawne had  made to time.

I don't like the idea that Barry doesn't get his parents back. From the moment that was changed in Flash: Rebirth, I didn't care for it.  Barry Allen was always the character in the DCU having the most fun.  He was married, had a nice set of parents, and an addlepated father-in-law.  Of all the heroes, he was the one most likely to be smiling.  But the events of rebirth had him saddled with a horrific history - now his Mom was killed, presumably by his father, who was taken to jail for it.  What a change!  But once it was revealed, gloatingly, that the Reverse-Flash was responsible for it, it was almost unfair that it couldn't be undone.

Perhaps the info in Flash #1 will prove me mistaken, but the end of FP #5 has me thinking his parents are still dead, he knows that Thawne is responsible for their death, he remembers his history of the alternate timeline, but might not recall that Thawne is dead. Not as satisfying an ending for him as I'd like.You could argue that Thawne won, dead or no.  And he's a time traveler; there's really nothing stopping him from coming back.

The tie-in books were as advertised - they were entirely ancillary, and did not have to be read at all to further the plot of the main book.  While they were all interesting, I can't say I agreed with the choices of who got books and  who didn't.  I'd have happily traded Legion Of Doom for, say, a S!H!A!Z!A!M! mini.  The two I enjoyed the most were Project: Superman and The Outsider.  I would not mind seeing either The Outsider or Project Zero make their way to the DCnU.

My biggest disappointment of the tie-ins was Booster Gold, not because of any failings in the story, but for what I presumed / hoped his role would be.  Being as they went to such lengths to point out that his was the only regular title crossing into Flashpoint, I took that to mean he'd play more of a role in the proceedings.  But ultimately, he faced Doomsday (again - that is a character that has absolutely been overused, and one I will not miss.), tapped into Flash's Speed Force, and went home. Didn't get to fix anything, didn't even get to save the girl.

Oh yes...the girl.  Alexandra had parasite-like powers, and at the moment before she, oh let's say "Died", Booster was trying to travel through time. And then a mysterious figure wrote the words on Rip's blackboard, and at the tie same time a mysterious hooded figure helps guide Barry to the right path to fixing things as near as can be.

Connection?  Who the hell knows?

The mysterious hooded lady is clearly the beginnings of another over-arc.  Not an event, per se - Dan Didio has sworn blind we won't get one of those for some time. But she's already been sighted in preview copies of other first issues, so she certainly seems to have a role to play.

Justice League #1 looked very promising, and was a very nice start to the new Universe.  It had a couple clunkers ("He combusted into fire"...peewwww) but it did a good job of giving the feel of how things now are. 

There's not a single title I don't want to give a fair look, there's several I'm quite keen on, and a few I'm right chuffed about. 

There's still a LOT of questions I have about the timeline of the DCnU.  With only five or so years of history in place, there's simply no time for ALL the events we've read about to have happened, either in whole or in part.  The lesser event books alone are likely all gone - I will not be sad to see Armageddon 2001 to go out the door, and Amazons Attack...please. 

I may try to go into more detail about these questions over the next week, but let's just ask about a few tentpoles here...

Who's died? The events of Batman RIP have likely occurred, as they funneled directly into Batman Inc, which is firmly underway as this new world starts up before us.  But was it still at the hands of Darkseid?  Did Final Crisis happen as we read it, if at all? 

Superman?  Did he die at the hands of Doomsday and come back?  We know Superboy's origin is all new now; Is Steel in the DCnU, or just some iteration of John henry Irons? 

Or what about Hal Jordan?  Geoff Johns did a great job or winnowing away the effects of Emerald Twilight from Hal's life - maybe this is the chance to wipe it away entirely?  If Superman didn't die, did Hank Henshaw destroy Coast City?  Hal could still have been possessed by Parallax and gone on a bit of a tear, but could have been stopped before he died.  We know Kyle Rayner has a ring in the new continuity, but who's to say he got it the same way, as a result of the same exact tragedy?

Let's go back to the first big one - with only one Flash in current continuity (that we know of - they're being deucedly cagey about Wally), did he ever die?  Did Crisis ever happen?  If not, Flash may never have died, which means that even more of the events of Final Crisis are under flux.

A lot of questions.  In full fairness, not all require an answer to permit enjoyment of the new books, but when people have upwards of 70 years of continuity in their heads, it's a fair question to ask how much of it will be of value in the future, as opposed to just being useful in talking about the past.

Which I expect I'll do a lot.

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