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Grumpy Old Fan | New 52, Prologue: This is the way the world begins

The Flash #139, the beginning of the end

I’m pretty sure every other DC-Comics blogger in the known universe will be doing this, but for me it is an imperative: from now through the end of the month, this space will give short, probably reactionary, and likely ill-considered reviews of all 52 new titles. Not surprisingly, then, this week is all Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1.

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I liked Flashpoint #1 pretty well. I thought it was a promising start to a story that — in a daring departure for a big event — could stand on its own without universe-altering ramifications.

Of course, that was in early May, a lifetime ago.

While Flashpoint #5 finishes that story, it does so in a way that feels maddeningly hollow. Not the epilogue, mind you — that sequence just manages to avoid mawkishness, and is a well-done counterpoint to the end of issue #1. No, my problem with issue #5 (and to a lesser extent with the miniseries generally) is the way in which writer Geoff Johns apparently just decides he needs to wrap things up.

SPOILERS FOLLOW for Flashpoint #5, and later for Justice League #1 …

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Naturally, this is similar to one of my complaints about Flashpoint #1: that the issue didn’t end with Barry Allen, the Flash, getting his speed back. I thought that would have given the story a nice shot of momentum, not to mention optimism. However, to paraphrase one of my old writing professors, you don’t review what you would have done, you review what was done.

Accordingly, for a story centered around the Flash, Flashpoint waits until halfway through its last issue before uncorking some real super-speed action. The rest of the time, Flash and his allies try to figure out how to stop this particular version of DC-Earth from destroying itself. This is certainly a noble goal, and well within Johns’ optimistic, altruistic Flash characterization. Issue #3 also explains why Barry doesn’t try to change the past himself (his speed hasn’t fully returned, and it’s not within his power set anyway). However, it means Flashpoint must meander around a scorched Earth for another issue and a half before Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, reveals the plot’s big secret.

To his credit, Geoff Johns had done a great job building the Reverse-Flash into a formidable, almost terrifying, villain. Able to change anything in history and ignore any negative personal consequences, Zoom has been subtly eating away at Barry’s life until (and I am still not sure of the mechanics) Barry himself inadvertently shattered the timeline. In response — and in the tradition of puzzle-minded Flash stories — one might imagine Barry finding a way to turn Zoom’s own abilities against him, perhaps leaving Zoom in an inescapable time-loop of some sort. Instead, issue #5 finds Barry at Zoom’s mercy, until Batman somehow sneaks up on one of the fastest man alive and stabs him through the chest. If I were more charitably inclined, I would call that ironic; but as written and drawn it seems more like a gratuitous popcorn-movie death, complete with one-liner.

Only then, it seems, do Batman and Flash realize that the key to “saving” the world is for Barry to stop himself from trying to save his mother’s life. Thus, Barry blames himself for the world of Flashpoint, and calls himself “selfish” for the time-trip which empowered Zoom, even though Zoom changed history in the first place by killing Barry’s mother and framing Barry’s father for the murder. Johns gives Barry some degree of closure about his mother’s death, and there is at least a hint that she may even be alive in the New-52 timeline, but the equities still don’t square to me. Barry wasn’t being selfish in trying to correct what a supervillain did, he was trying to restore his own timeline. What’s more, Barry’s Flashpoint time-trip reveals that the New-52 timeline is a product of some other cosmic calamity, which I suppose will be addressed in a future Flash or Justice League story. It could even be next year’s big summer crossover, featuring the end of all the New-52 books….

Anyway, it continues to bug me that Barry’s mother is retroactively doomed, ostensibly so that he can be “more interesting.” I am also bugged by the notion that the big climax of Flashpoint hinges on a previously unseen character (who I guess could be Kismet, the embodiment of the DC Universe, but probably not) and the setup of yet another big-event storyline.

Ultimately, I am disappointed in Flashpoint. Although it stayed largely focused on the Flash/Batman relationship, it digressed into world-building scenes which proved unnecessary. The hints of global collapse in issue #1 soon turned into more direct teases for the various ancillary miniseries, and the time spent anticipating Subject 1/Superman paid off with a few panels of him attacking Aquaman and Wonder Woman. The world of Flashpoint was so far gone that Barry’s inclination towards saving it seemed almost laughable. The miniseries offered no hope that any of Barry’s old JLA colleagues would work together again, and the motley band of superheroes introduced in issue #1 never coalesced into a reasonable replacement. Again, it goes back to the miniseries’ slow, and eventually somewhat arbitrary, pacing; which in turn may well owe a lot to its format.* Since it built to that emotional epilogue, Flashpoint might have made a nifty Brave and the Bold Annual, or even a taut two or three issues — but in the end it succumbed to big-event bloat.

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Similarly, at first I wasn’t overly impressed with Justice League vol. 2 #1 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams, and colored by Alex Sinclair). However, I emphasize “at first.” Overall it’s a decent start for the new League, and an uncomplicated way to attract new (or lapsed) readers.

Most of the issue follows Batman, Green Lantern, and an amped-up Parademon (the Apokoliptian answer to the Super-Skrull?) as they tear through Gotham City, chased initially by the GCPD. After the two heroes find a device the Parademon leaves behind (which I presume is a Mother Box), GL speculates that it’s connected to the Superman who lives in Metropolis. Off they go, in the end giving GL the opportunity to get punched out by the Man of Steel. There’s also an efficient introduction of star athlete Victor Stone, helping his high school run up the score while failing to garner any attention from his dad.

Justice League of America #184, part 2 of 1980's JLA/JSA adventure

This is not a groundbreaking plot, although the execution is mostly good. (There were a couple of confusing page transitions, a failed moment which might have been another “Batman has to pee” joke, and a panel or two where the Parademon’s transformations weren’t quite clear.) Essentially, from what I gather, the New-52 Justice League’s origin centers around them meeting, and presumably defeating, Darkseid. This is fine, in a serviceable way, mostly because this will be the first time the Leaguers have faced Darkseid. If this were the Brad Meltzer or James Robinson Leagues coming together to fight Darkseid, it would have to be something extra-special (kind of like Morrison and Porter’s classic “Rock Of Ages,” come to think of it). Even when Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and George Pérez used the Fourth World for 1980’s JLA/JSA crossover, it was pretty cool, because the Fourth World was still fairly new at that point.

Now, I am far from a new reader, so this next bit might not ring entirely true. However, if this were my first superhero comic book in a while, I think I might be inclined to stick around. Surely not by accident, it features three DC superheroes who are definitely familiar to the general public. It casts one of those heroes (GL) as cocky and makes him something of a comic foil for Batman, but it doesn’t do so at the expense of GL’s dignity. For all intents and purposes, it then uses Victor as a new character with whom new readers can presumably identify. It’s also a fairly-well-told action story which hints at bigger things to come. Obviously the League will fight Darkseid; obviously Vic will see half his body replaced with cybernetic parts; obviously the world will come to trust superheroes, and the Justice League above all.

As a longtime reader who’s seen just about every JLA relaunch**, I liked Johns’ general approach to the characters. Reading the GL/Batman scenes, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Emerald Buffoon in All Star Batman #9, also drawn by Jim Lee and Scott Williams. Naturally GL looked better by comparison here, but I think the JL characterization — new ring-slinger is full of himself, can’t believe someone would do this without powers — stands well on its own. The brief glimpse of fire-engine constructs handling Gotham’s collateral damage was a nice touch, and the kind of crossover detail I expect to see in a Justice League book. (Not to mention GL hitting the Parademon with a fire truck. That definitely appealed to my inner 13-year-old.)

While I’m still somewhat leery about setting Cyborg’s League adventures before his time with the New Teen Titans, I will say that this issue’s scene fits broadly with Vic’s pre-accident history. In NTT vol. 1 #1, we see his frustration at being essentially disqualified from any kind of athletics, thanks to his new abilities; and later we learn how the accident exacerbated a shaky relationship with his dad. It says something, I think, that the story seems to fit better with New Teen Titans continuity than it does with the original Fourth World; but I’m not prepared to grade it on that basis just yet.

Nevertheless, nothing in this issue reassures me that Johns, Lee, and company won’t spend an inordinate amount of time once again wandering from moment to moment before realizing it’s issue #6 and they should probably have an ending. Chasing a Parademon across the rooftops and through the sewers of Gotham is fine for a teaser, especially with Lee’s pencils; but subsequent issues will need to be more substantial. Similarly, while Johns and Lee do well with just Batman and Green Lantern, before too long they’ll have seven regular Leaguers to juggle. There is a lot of detail in Justice League #1 — thanks mostly to Lee and Williams’ intricate work, and Sinclair’s complementary colors — but not a lot of subtlety. As widescreen as the Justice League is supposed to be, its cast sometimes needs a more careful touch. (I did like Johns’ relative lack of first-person narrative captions, because it kept the narrative fairly straightforward.)  Indeed, although I liked Brad Meltzer’s first issue (2006’s Justice League of America #0, drawn by a variety of folks including Jim Lee), I had similar concerns about it, and we saw how that turned out.

Justice League of America #0

Mostly, though, I think Justice League #1 should encourage new readers to come back for the rest of the story. I base this largely on my experiences with newspaper comics. If I decide to start reading Dick Tracy (now by Joe Staton and Mike Curtis) on some random weekday, ideally it won’t be too long before I see at least one classic Tracy element: Dick himself, the two-way wrist gizmo, or some misshapen villain. Likewise, if I read a comic called Justice League, I’d like it to feature at least two, and preferably three, characters who don’t normally team up (outside of the League, of course), fighting something only the League could handle. This fits those criteria, plus it includes Johns’ clever take on the GL/Batman relationship, and some fine storytelling (especially with the GL constructs) from Lee. In terms of previous League debuts, it doesn’t have the quirky wit of Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire’s Justice League or the scope of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA. However, it is more focused than Meltzer and Ed Benes’ first issue and less scattered than James Robinson and Mark Bagley’s, and it starts playing with the big toys right away. So, good job, Justice League, for starting the New 52 pretty well.

Next week: Action Comics, Animal Man, Batgirl, Batwing, Detective Comics, Green Arrow, Hawk and Dove, Justice League International, Men Of War, OMAC, Static Shock, StormWatch, and Swamp Thing!

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* [I do give the main Flashpoint miniseries credit for shipping on time, with no last-minute changes in creative team. I didn’t get ‘em all, but unless I missed hearing about a delay, I think all the tie-in miniseries also shipped on time too. Given DC’s history with delays, that’s worth noting.]

** [By my count, this is the fifth first issue of an ongoing series featuring the main Justice League team: 1960’s Justice League of America vol. 1 #1, 1987’s Justice League vol. 1 #1, 1996’s JLA #1, and 2006’s Justice League of America vol. 2 #0. Interestingly enough (to me, anyway), until 2006 each series had spun out of an earlier anthology or miniseries: the originals in The Brave and the Bold, the future JLI in Legends, and the “Magnificent Seven” in Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare. However, it is at least the eighth time the team has been relaunched from the ground up, including the Detroit League (1984), JLI (1987), the Dan Jurgens JLA (1992), the post-Zero Hour JLA (1994), the JLA JLA (1996), the Meltzer League (2006), and the James Robinson League (2009). That’s an average of 3 3/4 years since 1984, so we’ll see if this group can make it to issue #45 relatively intact.]

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54 Comments

You sure write good columns, Tom.

What I liked best about Flashpoint was that it shipped on time, with a consistent look throughout. But the story was too depressing for me to enjoy.

At least it had a story. Justice League #1 didn’t even have a real story. And it wasn’t very inviting to new readers. If I was a new reader, and this was my first comic book, I would be thinking, “Meh. How come the people on the cover weren’t in the comic? How come this comic is only about Batman and Green Lantern? How come the story didn’t end? I paid all that money and didn’t even get a whole story?”

As a so-called introductory comic book, I think Justice League #1 makes other forms of entertainment seem more worthwhile. Say, video games or movies.

Yes it is terrible when a 5 issue mini has more story than a first issue.

How DARE DC not have enough story for an entire miniseries in a single issue. Just terrible.

Tisk
Tisk
Tisk

Because its to becontinued Jake. moronic new readers, who cant figure out how comics work, are not needed. they can watch Wipeout on tv.

Other than a few terrible bits of dialogue, I thought JLA 1 was pretty good. Hard to inhabit the mindset of a new reader, but I think it would have intrigued me enough to buy number 2. I have always loved the concept of the New Gods, but have been waiting for a really great re-imagining of the mythology. Hoping it comes sooner than later.

I haven’t read it, but I have to agree with Jake in principle, the way to draw in new readers and the casual readers who may become fans is to give them value per issue and that, for the most part, means whole stories. When I pick up an occasional comic, in want a story, not five scenes from a story. I wonder if DC gets this?

BTW Trey, I don’t think new readers deserve to be called morons simply because they like value for their dollars. Comics used to combine complete stories with ongoing storytelling. It can be done. And fans shouldn’t assume that new readers should immediately become fans. To my mind, catering strictly to long time fans is a recipe for diminishing audiences.

My big problem with the end of Flashpoint is that it never explains HOW Barry mucked up the world so bad. Yeah, I know he saved his mom and “shouldn’t have.” But why would that change which of the Wayne family was killed in the alley? …or where the spaceship from Krypton landed? …or any of the other bits that were needed for the World of Flashpoint to happen. If these are the work of the Reverse Flash, then Barry shouldn’t feel guilty, but if this is the “butterfly effect” from saving his mom, it seems that I still need some dots to be connected.

“. Chasing a Parademon across the rooftops and through the sewers of Gotham is fine for a teaser, especially with Lee’s pencils; but subsequent issues will need to be more substantial.”

I disagree fundamentally. This is a first issue. It’s supposed to grab the reader’s attention and make them go crazy. It’s not supposed to be a prologue or a teaser. My disappointment with this issue is substantial: it’s all decompression.

Otherwise, excellent article.

Googam Son of Goom

September 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I have many a Geoff Johns comic but I eventual realized that he isn’t a great writer. He’s good at plotting but his characterization and narrative style is pretty flat. It’s a shame that he seems to be a major force at DC.

I am surprised that no one seems to think or mention that the mysterious universe/time woman could be the character introduced and eliminated during Booster Gold’s Flashpoint arc.

“moronic new readers, who cant figure out how comics work, are not needed. they can watch Wipeout on tv.”

You should really prefer that they at least buy collected editions rather than ignoring comics altogether. Without new readers the audience only dwindles.

I am astonished that no comics columnist (that I’m aware of) has done a compare/contrast between Flashpoint and the Age of Apocalypse. To me, the latter was the former done right. And let’s face it, they’re thematically the same event: massive disruption of history due to time-travel results in a solitary character who remembers what went wrong; tries to fix things against the backdrop of an impending war.

Oh, I’m perfectly aware that AOA was full of 90’s cheesiness, and I bet it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if I were to reread it today. Structurally, though, I think AOA got it right by making the multiple tie-ins relevant to the two bookends of the event. It opened with X-Men: Alpha, which had the main story if Bishop’s entry into the new world, and rapid-but-relevant montage scenes of this new world. The story then broke off into the eight-or-so spinoff titles which were all connected to that original bookend. To some extent, they crossed over with each other. They all “zippered” back together in the “Omega” issue which wrapped up most-to-all of their plotlines, along with the larger story. To the best of my recollection, everything counted.

Flashpoint failed disastrously at this. Due to budgetary concerns, I stayed away from most of the FP-spinoff series. I picked up World of Flashpoint in the hopes of getting an ongoing montage of the FP universe, and Kid Flash lost so I could see the other major DCU character who was stuck in this timeline. I largely regret getting both, mostly because they had no relevant connection to the story and weren’t referenced in the larger title at all. Apparently, the Abin Sur comic had the same problem (and I was pretty tempted to buy that one, too). As far as I can tell, you could have read just “Flashpoint” with no real need to get anything else. And if you did get anything else, most of those books had no connection to FP #5, or no meaningful conclusion if they did (Superman #3 ends with him running to the big fight; FP #5 has him joining the fight, but nothing else).

If DC really wants to make these things relevant, they need to *actually* tie the stories together in a way that rewards the reader. Simply sticking a “Flashpoint” label onto a comic without any meaningful wrapup is just sticking it to the reader.

Yes it is terrible when a 5 issue mini has more story than a first issue.

How DARE DC not have enough story for an entire miniseries in a single issue. Just terrible.

Apples to apples then, the $3.99, Geoff Johns-written Flashpoint #1 was about ten pages longer than the $3.99, Geoff Johns-written JL #1, introduced an entire new world and universe, and gave at least a passing introduction to about 20 or so characters, if only their names, appearances and a personality trait or two. The former was a much better dollar-to-comics ration, and did a better job of laying out a setting and a cast.

Justice League #1 didn’t grab me as the flagship title should. It was competent, but not astounding

It’s no coincidence that the main characters we see (Batman & GL) are the characters that seem to be having the least amount of change with the relaunch. Johns & Lee don’t want to spoil the other characters for the new titles creative teams, which is understandable but disappointing. As a result we have in essence an issue of The Brave And The Bold, which is fitting for a Justice League launch.

The next issue ships in October, by which time all the new number ones will have been published and I expect Justice League #2 to include all the characters from this cover doing interesting things.

This is a title that will set the agenda of this new 52, been both the first published and by the company’s chief creative officer and co-publisher but if #2 doesn’t deliver on the promise of the front cover I’m afraid it’s a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Flashpoint was a complete train wreck, from the pacing, to the plot, to the pencils. After purchasing the fifth issue, I read them all in one sitting, after having read them each as they came out. That didn’t make it any easier wading through John’s convoluted story that had all the cohesion of Clark Griswold’s sled from Christmas Vacation. It felt sloppy and rushed, and as a few of you have written, more like a “flashpoint” from which readers could branch out and buy some mini-series highlighting character they appreciated.

Andy Kubert was just the wrong artist for this. Period. While his pencils are greatly suited for a nitty-gritty urban adventure set in Gotham City, they came off here as rushed and messy. However, he is timely. I can’t even begin to fathom the clusterfuck that would have presented itself if this “event” ran late. Timeliness wins. Game over. At the very least, Jesse Delperdang could have put down the big Sharpie to ink this. Ugh.

I’m really interested in knowing if any of this even remotely resembles what John’s set out to do when Flashpoint was announced last summer. It seems that John’s knowledge, or lack there of, of comic book history begins and ends in the 1980’s. Like a snot-nosed athlete, he doesn’t appreciate what has come before. In nearly every “rebirth” he has given a character, the essence of those stories can be traced back to the 80’s. If he were given the keys to the Batcave (for the love of all the is Holy, this can NEVER happen) Batman would be fighting Bane every month, have his back broken, again, and everything Miller and Mazzuchelli accomplished would be undone.

Couldn’t DC have brought in some big guns: Paul Dini, Darwyn Cooke, Matt Wagner, Stan Lee (!), Gerry Conway, and Grant Morrison to help Lee, Didio and Johns create a working storybible for the new 52? Instead, this launch feels like the work of the Patchwork Man, and we’re getting a frankensteined version of the DCU, by Lee, Didio and Johns and primarily for Lee, Didio and Johns. Vanity is a powerful thing. And so is greed.

Of course, the new readers are going to come out of the woodwork, purchase all of these new first issues, polybag them and then purchase stocks in Berkshire Hathaway and Apple Inc. with all their speculator goodness and everything will be okay.

Timeliness. Vanity. Speculation. The new DC.

How disappointing.

In support of Jake and in response to Yonatan and Trey…It is absolutely possible to tell a complete story AND start a “to be continued”, serial narrative. Look to 75% of bronze and silver age comics, TV like the work of Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams and their teams, movies like the Star Wars trilogies, multi-media franchises like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings…and ESPECIALLY the video games that the new DC purports to be using as a model. Heroes/protagonists can complete an “adventure” without telling the complete “story”. It would have been interesting to see Johns, Lee and DC follow through on this by providing some small resolution in the pages of Justice League #1.

You know what it wound have taken to have a compete adventure? have them CATCH the Parademon. Rather than have him suicide bomb himself, have him in holding and have GL & Batman trying to figure out his “Darkseid” mumbling. That would have given resolution for that adventure between the two (plus shown how cool the two were by NOT letting a villain die – even by his own hand), yet still have mysteries to solve that would lead them to Metropolis and Superman.

By having the Parademon killing himself, it helps show the two heroes as ineffectual (despite the fact that we see them both fairly competent otherwise), ads gratuitous unnecessary death, has them lead to Superman as a potential adversary (before they all eventually realize they are on the same side and team up – a trope that is tired and is badly in need of being retired) AND does not give any feeling of any resolution whatsoever.

Armchair storytelling, I know.

It’s strange to see that “Crisis” events, such as CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and INFINITE EARTHS, are based on the idea of a multiverse while FLASHPOINT was a time-travel story. Parallel universes and alternate timelines aren’t the same thing. Parallel universes can arise spontaneously, with the sheer nigh-infinite number of them ensuring that some are practically identical to the “home” universe, while alternate timelines are generated by time travel. As long as travel isn’t involved, there’s no practical difference between setting a story in an alternate timeline or a parallel universe — they could be practically identical — but the range of possible alternate timelines is different from the range of possible parallel universes, due to the differences in how they’re formed.

Reading through the descriptions of the Crises and FLASHPOINT — I wonder whether the people at DC Editorial understand the differences between parallel universes and alternate timelines.

SRS

The sentence portion “. . .CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and INFINITE EARTHS. . .” should read “. . .CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and INFINITE CRISIS. . .”

Sorry.

SRS

In comparing this #1 to JLA #1 (1986) and Justice League #1 (1987), I was very, very disappointed. For a flagship title (their words, not mine), did this WOW any of you?

I can truthfully say that JLA #1 was and is a great comic book. But I have now read all 3.

Killing Barry Allen’s mom or removing her retroactively however you want to word it will not in anyway make Barry more interesting it simply makes him more depressing as DC tries to make every hero as tragic as Batman. While this works for Bats as it is the driving force behind the characters iron clad resolve it fails to elicit the same effect for Barry who is yet another blond haired blue eyed super come back from the dead despite being replaced by a far more interesting character named Wally West. Lest you think me biased I am of the opinion Marvel took the same tack killing off Bucky Barnes to pave the way Steve Rogers return who despite being a favorite of mine simply isn’t as interesting as Bucky.

I mean JLA #1 (1996). My apolgies for the typo.

Your problem with Barry’s choices and new angst-ridden life mirror mine exactly. Unless we learn otherwise in Flash #1 (which isn’t impossible) his mom is still dead, supposely killed by his father, something he can’t disprove because h it was all done by a time-travelling villain who died in another timeline. Not quite the happy hero I was hoping to read.

And it’s absolutely clear that there’s another arc plot building, with the mysterious lady set to appear in each and every umber one issue of The new 52. Now, Dan Didio has sworn up and down there would be no events for a while…but how long is a while?

I agree s1rude. Remember the “Justice League Unlimited” animated series? Each episode a complete contained story but each episode led to the conclusion of a larger story.

man…a lot of replies and i only read a few so hopefully i’m not repeating a point…

the JLA as a book frustrates me because DC sometimes doesn’t treat it (just as Marvel did with the Avengers for some time in the 90s in my experience) as a cornerstone book featuring top characters…
over time books like the Avengers and X-men have been team books for Marvel that have been able to incorporate other characters seamlessly into their core books…unfortunately that takes away from the “big 7″ ideology that has been used to promote the JLA brand…the core of these characters has to stay together and i find myself, at least, leaving when they are broken up for smaller supporting characters which typically feel forced based on the writers wants for the title…

I thought Flashpoint on its own was a decent story. Sure, it had holes but it was a pretty good Flash story.

However, it just doesn’t seem right that this was how the old DCU would end. With a a rather clunky way of integrating Wildstorm and Vertigo to boot, it reminds me too much of the Zero Hour reset (including the timeline adjustment) instead of something fresh and revolutionary.

The best bit was the epilogue. Though I dare say it may have been MUCH better if it was the old, battle weary Bruce Wayne and not the relatively new DCNU Bruce who received the message from his father.

It almost seems the old DCU hobbled to the finish line on this one.

That said I am excited about the new books. Let’s hope it was worth losing the old DCU.

batman > dick grayson, steve rogers > bucky barnes, wally west > barry allen, coke > pepsi. that is all

JL #1 is where I choose as my re-entry point into the DC universe. I have dipped my toes in it before, and that was Grant Morrison’s run on the same title. However unfair it may be, it is nevertheless natural for me to use that as my referrence point. And compared thus, this version leaves a lot to be desired. Granted the premise is different and this JL’s starting point differs from Morrison’s, still I couldn’t help but feel that a potential for big and brash summer blockbuster debut has given way to a fall lineup of tv debuts.

I can understand the reason creatively behind taking this more drawn out and measured approach – building tension, establishing new paradigms, avoiding confusion and establishing a new set of ground-rules, etc. The danger in that though is it potentially allows new readers, or like in my case, semi-new readers, room to run out of enthusiasm and our excitement peters off like the end of a disappointing date. I am going to persist and await the next installment with an open mind and undiminished support, and I desperately hope Lee & Johns’ slow burn is worth the wait.

Maybe it’s just me, but I read comic books for light entertainment. I check realism at the door, channel my inner 12-year-old and sit down ready to suspend disbelief. In that way I don’t try to measure a superhero comic book (which should be aimed at 12 year olds) against great literature (or even adult graphic literature). With that in mind I thin JL #1 was an excellent introduction. I’ve spoken with many new readers and none of them were upset that WW, Aquaman, and Flash weren’t in the book. They know it’s coming. They would have preferred a finish story since we have to wait for #2 until October week 3, and that’s a little long to wait when we’re used to a TV show’s next episode airing a week later. But overall it played like a summer movie.

Flashpoint #5 was a little less accessible.
For one the idea of merging three TIME LINES into ONE in order to save reality would have worked if you were really merging three time lines. But you’re merging DC circa 2011 with a new made-up “Marvelized” timeline with the Wildstorm UNIVERSE (not a timeline). While I have nothing against integrating Wildstorm into the main DC line, you need a merging of the 52 known universes to get Wildstorm into DC. On top of all that Flashpoint does little to forward the new 52.

Ideally any character from the Flashpoint world that will be part of the new 52, should have been a focus and acted as an intro either from the main series or one of the minis. And we should not have seen a focus on any others. So success with Element Woman. Epic Fail on the SHAZAM Family (and I wouldn;t have minded seeing a 7 into 1 Shazam as a new 52). Success on Cantebury Cricket. Fail on Abin Sur. Success with Batman ONLY in that it tied over to Bruce by the end (and IMO Knight of Vengeance was not only the best of all the Flashpoint titles but one of the best Joker stories I’ve ever read). But is this the Captain Cold we’re going to see? The Heatwave? The Traci 13?

And the ending tries to do too much. I would have been satisfied that Barry learns he’s the reason the timeline is messed up, but Booster Gold should have stepped in at that point and helped Barry “fix” things. Only there would be only so much they could fix. And they couldn’t return to the same point in the time line. So when Barry finds Bruce, he could have noted that he seems younger than he remembers.

Instead we get a set-up for the next movie. A mystery woman with a “save the cheerleader save the world” message with really is just adding an unnecessary layer to the new DC and has us anticipating not-so eagerly the next event. Maybe this will tie into Morrison’s Multiversity next summer.

So JL #1 Fun Diversion, Flashpoint #5 indicative of everything that was the reason for a relaunch.

@Trey your juvenile remarks speaks volumes about you…unlike the trash Geoff johns is putting out. All flash no substance. DC can keep their relaunch and their lack of good storytelling. And you should learn to behave like an adult on these boards. Moron?

The thing I can’t figure out about the Flash-you-screwed-up-everything-by-saving-your-Mom argument is, if that’s the case, why didn’t Zoom’s murder of Flash’s mom do the same thing? Why did it only affect Barry’s timeline? Seems to me that’s a huge gap.

And I guess I would disagree with the characterization of GL in the new JL as not having lost his dignity. He comes off as pretty much a tool, as best as I can see. There’s no dimensions there, just bravado and pie in your face foolishness. I’m so disappointed in that issue.

Starts out too similar to the rest of Johns work and since I have been following him for a long time, noticing his downfall in quality, around the time he took on 7 jobs, I feel this will end up the same way. Plus delays after the first story arc probably two issues into the 2nd arc.

These have lasted for a few years with many overlapping or replacing one that ends:

Chief Creative officer
Green Lantern Writer
Flash movie Consultant
Green Lantern movie Consultant
Flash Writer/Flash Rebirth
Infinite, Blackest Night and Flashpoint Event series writer
Brightest Day/Batman Earth one/52
Superboy

He is amazing though, when writing a few series.

ehh, i agree.
flashpoint was 5 out of 10

Good review of both books.

I did enjoy Flashpoint. Issues 4 & 5 did kind of just wrap up and end with what was needed. I liked how the flagship book had the full story and the ancillary books weren’t required to know it all. The third issues of some of those books lead into the flagship and they shouldn’t have.

I have one concern, the cloaked lady speaking to Flash. I know DC said they’re doing this without anyway to change it all back.I can only see her as a foil to create an event and return everything, if this little experiment falls flat.

JL#1 was s decent book. I liked the cockiness of Jordan and Batman’s criticisms of how Jordan works. I think the first arc/issue should have just begun in the middle of this NuDC. Let the readers piece it altogether as we read the new books.
.

I don’t think you can equate Zoom and Barry Flash’s knowledge of the Speed Force. In comparison Zoom is a PhD while Barry is a high schooler taking Advanced Placement courses. I even think Wally knows more about the Speed Force than Barry. The 2 Reverse Flash-centric one-shots and Flash: Rebirth prove that point. So who can say that Flash can save his mother without affecting time.
It’s possible for Wildstorm and Vertigo to both be timelines and Universes. 52 was the event that showed how timelines became universes. Infinite Crisis created 52 exact copies of New Earth. Mr. Mind eating chronal energies changed the timelines of those 52 worlds. Wildstorm was one of the 52. You have to also bring the concept of Hypertime into the discussion.

Flashpoint was a disaster. Worst event miniseries in ages. It started going wrong from the moment everybody gathered in #1 and bickered about whether to form a superteam to deal with the crisis, and except for the two tearjerking moments in the finale, it never clicked.

Justice League #1 is the last DC comic I’ll ever read. It’s my perfect jumping-off point. It’s a trite team-up story, resurrecting my least favorite Batman-trope from the last 15 years (he’s an urban legend! Nobody believes he exists!!!), and offering new readers nothing but a drawn-out introduction to two characters they already know – without being able to appreciate the tweaks. Not that these are all that impressive.

The team should have been in place, the story should have been a knock-out punch of superheroic fun. Instead, it’s the death-knell of the DCverse being rung. 52 ongoing series? I’m betting half of those won’t survive their first year.

So, after 27 years of being an avid DC reader, it’s all over. Can’t say I’m happy about it, but there’s nothing in the relaunch that interests me. Now I just need Marvel to start all over to get out of comics altogether (and they’d already lost me for the biggest part with Civil War).

Given the flagship hype given to JL#1 I was left wanting more… maybe if they had done a giant sized issue (I know it was bigger than other books in the line, but it was still a quick read that didn’t get very far…) just for this book to launch us into the DCnU. Rather than ending with Supes we could have gotten further than that and at least had Wonder Woman or Aquaman show up or at least be referred to – some semblance of a team.
I’m sure it will make more sense in four months time when we see the arc, and i like that they may be cooking it properly… but i fear this story may only be good in the trade. the need to ‘introduce’ the players is over riding and momentum for me..
[start GL rant]
I didn’t like GL that much, and disagree that he kept his dignity. I thought he was supposed to be an airforce man and would take the seriousness of his job as space cop with more gravity and sense of service, definatly with more combat awareness beyond “you stay here, I’ll kick butt”. It would have been better to have him too serious to the point of superiority complex rather than smartass cocky, then the way BM outsmarted him and Supes smacked him would have given him more of a jolt. This GL is just some 2D character here throwing power around.. he’s too in awe with himself, which would expect from the Raynor GL given he is more of a civilian.
And why doesnt he know exactly who Supes is? Given hes the local space cop and Supes in an alien, and a remenant of a race believed to be dead at that, surely that would make him a person of interest. GL shows us that he has access to the info resources of Oa that knows everything, yet he has never bothered to use them to look up Supes or BM?
[end GL rant]

Anyways… over all the book is nice, and its great to see Jim Lee having fun.
I think the burdens put on this book as the spearhead of the DCnU has led to it being a little too expositional to be a great read, but sometimes when writing to a brief full of external demands it gets tough and a compromise is all thats possible. It should all kick off when the Darkseid fight starts… and like a chess game the key peices need to be in place for that first.

We’re certainly a grumpy bunch of old fans, indeed. Like most who have posted so far here, I wasn’t too impressed with Justice League #1. However, given that DC’s stated main reason for this line-wide relaunch is to draw in new readers, and given that their stated main reason*ing* is that new readers need a “new” entry point, I thought it might be interesting to ask a new reader what she thought of Justice League #1. (Neither of us read Flashpoint.)

BTW, she and another person I know–both very smart, very imaginative readers–have said to me more than once that although they would like to get into comic books, they felt it would be too difficult, given all the continuity. Both are, accordingly, pleased by DC’s big shakeup, because (they say) they feel like it’s a chance to get in on the ground floor, so to speak, in comics-reading.

Anyway, the reaction to Justice League #1: the new reader I asked liked it a lot (although she now thinks GL is a jerk). She plans to buy more #1’s this month and come back next month for the series that grabbed her. Including, now, Justice League.

So, although I wasn’t too wowed with the first issue of the DCnU, I’m very pleased (and a little surprised) that–in the one case of which I know–DC’s “new reader friendly” approach is a hit so far.

DCnU re re re re REBOOT

September 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm

i Enjoyed JUSTICE LEAGUE #1…… but at its core its just a generic by the numbers ” lets get the gang together” issue thats going to take a few issue to do fully.
Weve seen this a ZILLION TIMES in all of comics.

DC and comicdom are kidding themselves about this ” new reader” BS.
A strong concept takes 1 issue to tell and the next few issues should be about fleshing out the details.

The BEST stories of the last 50 yrs have been 1 & done.
Society has A.D.D : Hook me right away or not at all.

Only the die hard readership that never goes away & buys the same stuff every month- will stick around for all 5 issues.

It definitely is Kismet. In Flashpoint #5, you can see that her hair is green.

Exotic Dragonfruit

September 5, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Laughing at YOU:

“a new made-up Marvelized timeline”? You’ve never read a single thing on Vertigo?

I don’t know any 100% new readers. All the “new readers” I know are people who are lapsed DC readers or those who’ve never read their books but know the characters via other media like games and the DCAU. I really would love to see some genuine new reader feedback on these books.

Ehhh,
Could have been better.
While I liked the epilogue in Flashpoint #5, I really wanted to see more tie in with some of the other flashpoint books. I can see where Kid Flash gave back some of the Speed Force, but what did Booster do? He was going to help fix things once he got out then forgot. What was the point of that? And Shade the Changing man who could change reality, what was the point of offering some redemption which never came? And the three timelines, it was not clear which ones were being talked about and it was not clear with the pictures. I would assume that it is the integration of the DC/Milestone/Vertigo characters into one universe. I can deal with that but it seems that only Static is getting any love in the matter while mostly stormwatch/wildcats are being seen in the previews. I am still not really sure how the Batman/GL timelines will be unaltered as cleanly as they claim with only a 5 year span. How can we have 4 earthling GL’s in 5 years? ( I am SO close to calling Shenanigans, but I will wait and see) I think that this is all just an excuse to placate Superman/WW shippers myself. I wish they DID make an “Ultimate” DC universe that had a central themeline of origins (I think the Phantom zone would be quite serviceable for a unifying origin as a means for Kal El to travel to earth, for Martian Manhunter to be pulled by Dr. Erdel, etc) but that is a rant for another time….

I didn’t read the Flashpoint tie ins at all, so I wasn’t as nonplussed with it as some. Taken for what it is, the story is a tantalising glimpse at an alternate DCU with some cool conceptions of its characters. It did feel rushed and the conclusion did not fully satisfy but I have to say I enjoyed it overall and moreso than Justice League 1.

It was a bit average, a run of the mill superhero intro story, that relies so heavily on everyone knowing the names of these heroes already, so that only tidbits of personality need be exhibited to excite.

Its best moment is Batman taking the ring from GL and you see in a snapshot the relationship between the two and the value of their relative attitudes and power sets.

But if this was a new superhero book with all new characters and the same plot, who would care or think it was a good start?

See New Avengers vol 1 issue 1 for how to do this right.

Question, when Bats takes Hal’s ring in JL 1 does his suit disappear? Also if the answer to that question is no does that mean that the Lantern costumes are no longer green/will constructs?

Damn good ouestion, Stark. Can’t wait to here th answer.

Reading Morrison’s first JLA issue compared to Johns’ is eye opening.
It made me realise just how bad Geoff’s issue was!!

A new reader picking up Morrison’s book would immediately ‘get’ that these characters were a big deal.
It had a GREAT story and was actually EXCITING!!

I still love those pages where Batman makes his move, waving a lit match . “I know what you are”.

Awesome.

Johns gave us clunky dialogue, disjointed story and really didn’t give us anything in the way of premise.
At $3.99, there are plenty of better books to spend my cash on.

Yes Stark, his suit does disappear.

It seems that some readers want the Justice League to be Watchmen and others want Justice League Unlimited. Stories that “matter” versus stories that are fun.

The advantage for Justice League #1 is that it features two characters that aren’t being overhauled very much in the new DCU. The disadvantage is that it reads like a team-up rather than the start of a team book. I would have preferred a double sized #1 that introduces the main players in some form. At the same time, I’ll be back for #2. Unfortunately, I think that #2 is six weeks away due to matching up JL #1 early to be sold with Flashpoint #5.

Can someone please explain why Geoff Johns is supposed to be such a fantastic writer? I found Flashpoint to be confusing, slow-building, and just generally bad. I bought issues 1 and 2, but then just sort of read through the rest at the comic store without purchasing them. The Flash should be a bit more light-hearted in nature in my opinion, and this is depressing. He’s tragic, and that shouldn’t be the case. Also, for Batman to kill the Reverse Flash in such a simple and sudden way like he did was really pretty bad. I don’t know how time travel works, but couldn’t the R.Flash have just gone back in time the second he realized he was about to die? Just a few seconds? That way he could prevent what had just happened and therefore not die? The epilogue was extremely confusing to me. Not the letter to Bruce, but the part with the multiple worlds. Just….whaaa? Ugh. Head hurts. So yeah, it didn’t work for me on any level, and I only bought Justice League #1 because of Jim Lee and Scott Williams’ art. The story didn’t really do much for me either, but with those guys on art, I really don’t care if the story is good.

So again, what’s so great about Geoff Johns?

There is NOTHING about JL #1 that would bring a reader back … certainly not this reader. There’s nothing new in it. GL is cocky. He’s always been cocky. Batman is smarter than GL. He’s always been smarter than just about anyone. We have parademons and “Superman” shows up. Big deal. There is no plot it’s just destruction and chasing around. If you’re going to launch a “new” universe it ought to be new. We should have been knocked on our backsides with newness. But it’s just more of the same Geoff Johns style of characterization and deconstruction. Johns is no better than Bendis over at Marvel … the whole sandbox has to be done his way. I’m done with DC.

If you were a new reader, you would be excited and want to stick around? Seriously? I can’t even tell what this comic is about!

For starters, after rereading the first issue, my first complaint is where are all those people on the cover? Where’s the chick? Where’s the blond guy with the scaly shirt? Where’s the red guy with electrical powers (I presume he has electrical powers, there’s lightning bouncing off of him)? Is that college kid supposed to be the black guy in silver armor (is that armor?).

Are they going to be a team? How? The Batman and the Green Lantern are always arguing about little things. And that Superman guy hits one of them in the last page. Aren’t superheroes supposed to fight crime? Maybe people think they are criminals and that’s why they’re being hunted. But then who are the bad guys? The government? That demon thing (which doesn’t look particularly dangerous)?

Geoff Johns has to think about these things. DC can’t launch a whole new line aimed at new readers and give them something like this. He can’t assume I know everyone on the cover, or that I know who are the good guys and the bad guys. He can’t assume I see the Parademon and think Darkseid is the bad guy… since I’m not really supposed to know who or what is a Darkseid. He can’t assume I’ll want to wait another four to six months until he tells what’s really going on. TV shows are on every week, if I have to wait for the next month I’ll have forgotten, and there’s nothing to remember here.

@Brian… Since when was Green Lantern “supposed to be an airforce man”? Cocky test pilot, yes. Military, no.

@Gerry… Your local comic shop thanks you for your support.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

September 6, 2011 at 10:08 am

Flashpoint was DC’s Age of Apocalypse, but it wasn’t nearly as good as AoA was. I was tempted to try a couple tie-ins, but I decided just to stick with the main mini. Based on everyone’s responses to the tie-ins (that they were worthless, for the most part), I’m glad I did.

And yeah, the time lady speaking to Barry seemed like a crimson-cloaked escape valve should the New 52 go all pear-shaped.

As for JL #1, it should have given us a lot more meat instead of filler. If they’re trying to get new comic fans, the first issue should have been a one-and-done story or at least offer up a lot more than this one did. New readers aren’t going to want to wait six months for this team to get together, which could be the case, based on the book’s solicitations.

If you want to see a “getting the team together” story done right, look at Dark Avengers. That roster, which was comprised of a lot of characters that were unknown to the larger popular culture, was introduced and set after the first issue. The first issue! And it was written by Brian Michael Bendis, who’s known for his decompressed storytelling.

That said, I’ll still pick up JL because I found it enjoyable (not great), but it seems to have fumbled the ball in terms of accessibility, which is ones of its main goals.

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