[Review is currently without visual aid; images will be added as soon as possible.]
“The plot thickens!”
If you think about it, the phrase is kind of amusing. I’ve heard it so many times that I’ve never really taken the time to decipher the meaning of it, but it’s a particularly interesting choice of words. On the one hand, the story is becoming more dense, interconnected and complex the more you add to a book: the more layers there are to a story, the more it thickens.
On the other hand, “the plot thickens” could be interpreted very literally: more stuff is being added to the plot to make the paperback thicker, with seven issues of paper instead of six. Flashpoint Beyond #3 thickens the plot in both of these ways.
In the middle of his investigation, Thomas Wayne is approached by Superman, who drags him to the Oasis: a version of the Fortress of Solitude covered in nature, a sanctuary for people in need. When we see Superman in the original Flashpoint, he doesn’t have much time to be the hero he usually is; what with most of his life having been spent experimented on in government captivity. Here, we see what he’s like as the Flashpoint Universe’s man of steel! He’s not really DC’s most intersting alternate Superman, but it is nice to see his morality survive the jump between universes. We see different versions of Poison Ivy and Swamp thing here, which was also a pleasant surprise. This is all good stuff, and it makes the world of Flashpoint seem interconnected and more “real”.
That said, I can’t help but wonder if it’s taking away from Thomas’ story. Issue #2 was at its best during his confrontation with Gilda Dent (who does appear in this issue!). When Superman starts talking about alien invasions, I feel like it’s moving too far away from what’s interesting about the book. It’s too early for me to judge either way – a subplot is a subplot, and its quality usually has to be judged by how it blends with the main story – but I don’t think the book needs to add an “end of the world” plot to be engaging. Thomas growing more and more lost in his own mind as he deciphers a murder mystery that spans time and space? That’s such a good idea! Do we really need to take attention away from it? Even in this issue, the best content is still related to the murder mystery (like the surprise ending). Let’s hope that the world of Flashpoint continues to support Thomas’ character arc, rather than take away from it.
The art continues to be stellar, but there are absolutely zero surprises there. Both Xermanico and Janin get several perfect one-page spreads this issue, which look phenomenal and really emphasize the scale of the story (even if it pads the page count too). That said, I noticed an example or two of the dialogue not really lining up with the art. For example, there’s one panel in particular where Superman is pointing with his mouth open – yet Batman is clearly the one talking. It’s not a huge issue, but one I did notice. It makes me wonder how many drafts books like this go through, and how much they’re editing it even after the art is done.
- The world of Flashpoint (and all its characters) is a selling point for you.
- You’re looking for an event that’s a little more small-scale and character focused.
- You don’t mind the expanding scope of Thomas Wayne’s story – I guess he has already been in the Justice League Incarnate.
For better or worse, the plot indeed thickens in this story: the world that Thomas once thought dead is expanding more and more before his very eyes, and he’s at risk of losing himself in it once again. I can’t say yet whether this expanding scale will be good for the story or not, but the setup is fine enough. With some exciting teases for what’s to come, I’m inclined to stay optimistic that Flashpoint Beyond knows what it’s doing.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch