In my review of Flashpoint Beyond #0, I began with what I felt was an important preface before diving into the review itself. I have inherent objections to the book, from its metatextual commentary to behind-the-scenes circumstances regarding it existing in the first place. Those complaints still apply here, but I’m at least happy to say issue #0 managed to be satisfying enough despite them. Issue #1 continues that trend, much to my relief.
Now, those of you who have been reading my reviews would know that a book being “good enough” is hardly a get out of jail free card. For one, the amount of exposition here is absurd. Between the newscaster and Thomas Wayne’s narration, there are about 400 words of exposition in those two pages alone. That’s right, I counted. And then lost count. Considering we’ve already had an entire issue to get readers up to speed, this feels like an inefficient use of time – not to mention, it’s very dull. 400 words might be a shockingly short length for, say, a Batman News review, but it’s a hefty history lesson when talking about narration within a visual medium.
Fortunately, the story starts to pick up after that. I’ve got a few minor gripes regarding dialogue I don’t think are worth mentioning, but other than that, I had no real issues. The book has the same benefit all Elseworlds books have, which is that they’re capable of telling stories where characters can make decisions with some level of actual impact. It’s nice to see Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Batman all progress the plot in meaningful ways! For example: while stories like this often rely on things such as character deaths for shock value, it hits a little harder knowing they’re not guaranteed to ever be resurrected. In addition, the somewhat nihilistic undertones that feel everpresent in DC nowadays feel a little more effective here, in a universe where actions actually can have consequences. It creates an interesting juxtaposition between the world characters like Wonder Woman are living in, vs what Thomas Wayne’s Batman is going through.
While no one loves a rotating art roster, Xermanico being on board for the rest of the series (presumably) is always welcome. I’m almost sick of singing his praises, because we are clearly talking about one of the best comic book artists in the business right now – one whose work is, in my opinion, criminally underappreciated. There’s so much to talk about regarding his work, but it’s almost too much! I’d feel guilty if I only focused on his effective use of the Ben Day process in his shading (the classic comic book dots in the shadows of his characters), when I could also be discussing his character’s facial expressions, the cascading of their hair, or Xermanico’s understanding of how best to use empty space in his illustrations.
That’s just from these three panels, mind you.
Ultimately, though, Xermanico knows how to make things cool. He knows how to make a battle cool, he knows how to make sea creatures cool… and he knows how to make Batman very fucking cool.
A bit of a simple compliment, I know… but there’s something to be said about how creators nowadays are so adept at taking almost ludicrous designs, and adapting them so that they look both entirely believable and thoroughly engaging. That’s just good storytelling, right there.
Finally, a plot point I’ll be hiding in the spoilers that I want to talk (and possibly complain) about:
Okay, so how the hell is Barry here?
If you’ll recall, Barry gets trapped by Darkseid (and then the Great Darkness) in the pages of Infinite Frontier. Shortly after, Thomas Wayne is seemingly killed in Justice League Incarnate, before being transported to his original world. Either this takes place way after Dark Crisis (what the hell is the point of that event?), or someone really doesn’t care about continuity. I know DC said they were going to care less about it after Death Metal, but jeez, these stories literally flow into each other. Guess we’ll see how this pans out.
- Flashpoint and Thomas Wayne fans want their next fix.
- You’re looking for an interesting cosmic mystery (that probably won’t have the best payoff).
- You like Elseworld stories with big, drastic shakeups in the DC roster!
A solid second issue – one with several flaws I’m willing to overlook for its virtues. It’s interesting to see a world on the brink still trucking along after we thought it had fallen apart, and it’s exciting to see a world where anything could happen from here on out. Hopefully, it’ll embrace the possibilities that lie within the Flashpoint universe, and not get bogged down in the same things that have plagued all recent DC events as of late.
Still don’t get why they didn’t just call this Issue #2 though.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch