‘Flashpoint’ #5 Review: Batman wept

Posted by – August 31, 2011

The end of the DC Universe’s final sprawling crossover event before its much-ballyhooed reboot arrived today in Flashpoint #5. Once more, the burden of DC’s Gordian continuity knot falls upon The Flash, and this is the tale of how he ultimately confronts Eobard Thawne and resolves one scrambled universe cluster-belch and ushers in a newer, shinier universe that DC’s execs hope will be more accessible to new superhero comic book readers.

Without spoiling anything for you, The Flash succeeds. (Well, we’ll see how many new readers the reboot attracts, but at least the continuity reset bomb has been detonated.)

Geoff Johns wrote this story, and it’s as Johnsian as anything DC has published in recent memory. If you pick up this issue expecting to see a marathon safari of goodbyes and Easter eggs littered across the DCU, checking off every last character in your old Skybox DC Comics trading card set, you will leave feeling disappointed. “Flashpoint” is a tale for Barry Allen fans, and in the end, the only characters you really need to be acquainted with to understand Flashpoint #5 are Allen and Batman.

The fight dialogue is awkward and stilted, and the crowd scenes cram in flocks of characters at a time without much effort at explaining who’s here and why (there have been four key issues and more tie-ins than I’ll stop to count right now to take care of that). Nevertheless, the final reckoning for Wonder Woman and Aquaman is ultra-hasty and almost comically abrupt.

That said, after the lightning-infused rumble concludes, the power in this issue lies after the staple. I’m not going to spoil anything too much for you, but the closing pages provide a glimpse at what’s to come in the “New 52” DCU as the Justice League members get reestablished and the post-“Flashpoint” world takes shape. As a look through the keyhole, so to speak, Johns finished on a potent note. He lands this crazy train of a crossover flaming hot, but he does so with enough momentum to keep things interesting. Furthermore, Andy Kubert’s informed pencils handle a crowded cast of old, new, and really new costumes formidably.

And that leads me to the one big (potential spoiler) question I have at the end of this book. Has DC decided to give Batman a post-Frank Miller chill pill going forward. Barry shares a brief moment with Bruce that won’t spoil here (you’re welcome), but the entire finale comes down to a defining moment where we see Bruce Wayne as emotionally vulnerable as we ever have—and in front of a fellow hero nonetheless. This event is obviously going to have lasting implications. Johns and DC chose these tears to be the opening curtain to Justice League and the rest of their new U, so I want to know—what is our Batman for a new generation going to be like out in the wild?

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