Friday, September 30, 2011

A Month Late and a Dollar Short: The Last Flashpoint Friday

Flashpoint 5
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Andy Kubert, Jesse Delperdang, & Sandra Hope
Rating: 2 out of 5 Pixels

In this finale that was meant to tie-up about twenty loose plot threads, introduce the biggest reboot in decades, and wow us all to pieces, Geoff Johns fails to deliver. Instead what we get is a story that takes us from Point A to Point B in a rather anticlimactic fashion, playing fast and loose with logic as it does so. Somehow, Barry saving his mother thirty years ago was "like a bullet shattering a windshield," altering time in every direction, in ways that no one bothers to explain. When the Flash runs, it's not so much about traveling from one place (or time) to another, but rather just the act of going really fast makes him magically appear wherever the story needs him to be, whether it's on his mother's couch or at his cosmic treadmill (which apparently exists in empty space, outside of reality) at the precise moment when he needs to be there in order to stop himself from saving his mother's life and thereby destroying the world. I can deal with these leaps of logic, though. Comic book laws of physics are typically... creative, especially when it comes to time travel and alternate realities. The thing that really bugged me about this issue, that made me just now drop the rating from 2.5 to 2 Pixels (even lower than I rated Red Hood and the Outlaws 1), is this scene:

See, Geoff Johns realized that if Barry decided to sacrifice his mom, even in order to save the entire world, he wouldn't come across as a hero. Rather, he'd come across as a douche who decided his mom's life wasn't worth everyone else's. So Johns writes in this scene where Barry's mom herself makes the decision to die in order to save the world, so instead of being the victim of Barry's douchery she's a hero, right? Except that this scene more or less comes out of nowhere, as far as characterization is concerned. We've seen Barry's mom for what, a few pages in the first issue or two of the series? If she was going to be the hero of this series, then she needed to be a bigger part of it all along. We needed to get to know her so that we'd understand that she's the type of person who sacrifices herself to save the world. We needed to care about her so that we recognize what this sacrifice means to her. Not what it means to Barry. Because this woman has been in the background for most of this series (as most women have), this scene comes across instead as her recognizing that she's not as important as the big (male) heroes, Flash and Batman and Cyborg, so she might as well just get out of the way so they can have their happy world back.

Sorry, Mr. Johns, I generally like your writing, but this just doesn't work for me. You created a (female) supporting character simply as motivation for the (male) main character, then tried to convince me that she's the hero of the story when in fact you just didn't want to make the main character look like a complete asshole. Bzzt. Try again.

Also, is it just me, or does Batman have a total double standard when it comes to fellow heroes who have tried to rewrite reality and in the process have killed innocents? Remember how he didn't forgive Green Lantern for years? This time, Flash tells him, "You know what? I just tried to go back in time and save my mom, but instead I created this new reality where millions of people suffered and died needlessly." And Batman is all like, "No worries, bro, it's cool."
Admit it, Batman, you just don't like Hal. It has nothing to do with him having been Parallax.

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