Tag Archives: Aquaman

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This volume contains four mini-series tie-ins to the Flashpoint event wherein Wonder Woman and Aquaman wage genocidal warfare across Europe in a skewed alternate universe.

The first sequence, Batman: Knight of Vengeance, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, is one of the best Batman stories I’ve read, deserving 5 stars. In this alternate universe, Joe Chill killed young Bruce Wayne, leaving his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, grieving parents. Thomas turned his anger into becoming the Batman. By day, Thomas Wayne runs casinos with the help of his business partner Oswald Cobblepot (in the normal universe, AKA Penguin). By night he rids Gotham City of vile menaces like Hush, Scarecrow, Ivy, and Killer Croc with extreme prejudice. When Judge Harvey Dent’s children are kidnapped by the Joker, Batman must face his greatest nemesis in a way we’ve never seen. This Joker has an origin that is utterly terrifying and completely consistent with this alternate reality. The artwork by Risso beautifully captures the dark insanity of Thomas Wayne’s world.

The second sequence, Deadman and the Flying Graysons, by J. T. Krul and a battery of artists, depicts a circus traveling through war-ravaged Europe, trying to evade the insane conflict all around them. Trapeze artists Boston Brand (AKA Deadman) and the Flying Graysons, featuring young daredevil Dick Grayson (known as Robin in the normal universe), become involved with the Resistance in a deadly way. A mystical artifact must be protected from Wonder Woman’s Amazonian army, which ultimately leads to transformations by Brand and Grayson. Unfortunately, the story ends before we see the full ramifications of these transformations. I give this 3 stars.

The third sequence, Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager, by Jimmy Palmiotti and a slew of artists, tells the story of the pirate Deathstroke who takes advantage of the chaos of war to plunder the high seas for his own gain. When rival pirate Warlord kidnaps his daughter, Deathstroke must face insurmountable odds to try to rescue her. Along the way they cross paths with Aquaman and his ally Ocean Master with disastrous results. This is a fast-paced adventure that really doesn’t have much to do with the main Flashpoint storyline, but is interesting for its depictions of familiar DC characters in unusual circumstances. This deserves about 3-1/2 stars.

The fourth sequence, Secret Seven, by Peter Milligan and a variety of artists, delves into the magical world of Shade the Changing Man and his one-time allies Black Orchid, Amethyst, Abra Kadabra, Raven, Zatanna, and Mindwarp as Shade tries to bring them together to help Cyborg end the metahuman war while trying to evade Sagan Maximus’s attempts to neutralize him and Enchantress’s attempts to kill him. In the end, though, the story is mostly a confusing mess that has no real conclusion. This is the weakest sequence in this compilation, earning no more than 2 stars.

The problem with most of these sequences is that they were only three-issue mini-series. I get the impression that they were originally intended to be much longer, perhaps six issues each, because in almost every case the story ends abruptly and often with the protagonists experiencing turning points that cry out for resolution. Overall, this anthology is well worth checking out for the Batman story, but the remainder is very inconsistent in quality.

The New 52: Aquaman, Flash, Firestorm, and Hawkman

The final four titles in the “Justice League” group of DC’s New 52.

Aquaman

Aquaman is a hero in the DC universe who is inexplicably popular despite there never really having been a good Aquaman series. DC apparently wanted to increase his stature by assigning their premier writer Geoff Johns to guide this latest version. Unfortunately, Johns seems to have little to work with, and at least the first issue is reduced to rehashing a lot of the standard Aquaman punchlines, such as he’s the lame-o guy who swims around and talks to fish. Johns is a better writer than that, and I hope that he is simply setting the stage for Aquaman to reveal himself as a kick-ass leading man, to revitalize the character in the same way he’s done for Green Lantern. Artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado have done a great job of interpreting Aquaman as clearly a young man, much more than any of the other New-52 superhero redesigns. Aquaman could turn out to be cooler than we think, and the tantalizing monsters we get a glimpse at may hint at awesomeness to come.

The Flash

Barry Allen, police scientist by occupation and the fastest man alive by avocation, has been one of the mainstays of the DC universe since the Silver Age renaissance in the late 1950s. Killed off in Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 and replaced by Wally West for two decades, Barry Allen’s Flash has been given a new lease on life in the last few years by none other than Geoff Johns. Writer/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato hope to continue this rebirth. Manapul was, after all, the artist that worked with Johns, so should know what direction to go in.

What we get in the first issue, though, is a pretty insubstantial introduction, with Flash foiling a standard high-society heist at a gala event Barry was coincidentally attending. Then there’s some perfunctory background information about Barry’s coworkers and an old college buddy, which looks like it will lead into a larger story. Manapul and Buccellato’s artwork is clean and elegant, but so far their writing is not enough to keep reading.

The Fury of Firestorm : The Nuclear Men

In its original concept, Firestorm was a hero that combined the brute physicality of teenager Ronnie Raymond with the telepathic guidance of aged Professor Martin Stein. Somewhat surprisingly, after a bit of a rocky start, the series lasted for well over a decade. It’s been retooled once or twice since then, the most recent version replacing Stein with Jason Rusch, a young black intellectual. In the newest twist, Raymond and Rusch are high school students at opposite ends of the spectrum—Raymond a football star and Rusch a reporter for the school paper. Rusch, for some unexplained reason, is hiding a canister of unknown power given to him by Dr. Stein. A terrorist group finds out he has it, but to save himself and Raymond, Rusch opens the canister transforming them into two Firestorm beings. The two finally merge to create an entity called Fury.

As co-plotted by Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone, scripted by Simone, and drawn by Yildray Cinar, a lot of story gets packed into a short space, but it never really seems plausible (or as plausible as two teenagers turning into elemental nuclear beings can be). This is the kind of character transformation that went out with the Hulk and Fantastic Four fifty years ago. There are enough crumbs strewn about to indicate that the story will become more developed, so this is a title worth keeping an eye on, but don’t hold your breath.

The Savage Hawkman

Hawkman is another character that has gone through countless incarnations over the years. In this one, archeologist Carter Hall is an expert in lost languages who is called upon to decipher what appears to be some alien ruins. As the story opens, however, Hall is in the process of trying to destroy the “Nth metal” wings that make him Hawkman, but which somehow have ruined his life in the unspecified years he has used them. The metal explodes, mysteriously transporting Hall back to his apartment with perhaps some newfound powers. So it’s kind of like Indiana Jones meets super science meets demonic alien monsters.

The script by Tony S. Daniel and art by Philip Tan are murky, both literally and figuratively. There’s no explanation of what the Nth metal is, the personality of Carter Hall, or much of anything else. Presumably, it will make sense as the story continues, but for now it’s muddled enough not to care.