Tag Archives: Deathstroke

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: Deathstroke and Grifter

Two more books in “The Edge” group of DC’s New 52:

Deathstroke

Marv Wolfman and George Pérez created Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke, as the primary adversary of the Teen Titans back in the early 1980s. Although featured in a number of comics since then, Deathstroke has become somewhat overshadowed by Marvel’s mercenary Deadpool. This new series apparently aims to bring back Deathstroke’s status as the premier metahuman mercenary in the comic book world.

To a large extent, I think that writer Kyle Higgens and artists Joe Bennett and Art Thibert were successful in the first issue by establishing Deathstroke as a wholly unredemptive villain who is nevertheless an engaging protagonist. However, can they meet the challenge of keeping up interest in a sadistic monster like Deathstroke over the long haul?

Deathstroke’s brutality is shown in the first couple of pages, with a double-page splash panel that is literally splashed with bloody decapitations. The rest of the story involves Deathstroke being forced to team up with a trio of mercenary wannabes who variously call themselves the Alpha Dawgs and the Harm Armory. It’s pretty clear they will end up as red shirts; the only question is how. Filled with crosses and double-crosses, the first issue sets up some intriguing mysteries. This could be a book to watch, but I’d wait for the collected trade edition.

Grifter

The improbably named Cole Cash is a former special operations soldier turned con artist extraordinaire. On his way to rendezvous with his partner Gretchen in San Juan after a big score, Cash is accosted in the airplane by what seem to be inhuman creatures in human form that are bent on his capture. Cash eventually wakes up with 17 minutes unaccounted for, the telepathic demons still after him, and his brother, from his former military unit, assigned to make him “go away” for what his superiors perceive as an act of terrorism.

One of the characters from the Wildstorm imprint imported into the DC Universe, Grifter has the potential to bridge the supernatural, military, and espionage genres. Cash is not a traditional superhero—just a guy trying to understand a world that is suddenly out to get him. Depending on how writer Nathan Edmondson handles it, this could be a fun romp—a supernatural version of The Fugitive starring a Sawyer-esque con man. Cafu and Jason Gorder provide a serviceable, but unremarkable style of artwork. The first issue is not enough to really tell how this series is going to evolve, so I would wait for the collected edition before getting too involved with it.