Damn it. Alright Flashpoint Beyond, back it up. You had me for a while here, but now you’re really losing me. I can’t in good conscience spend an entire review trashing Dark Crisis, and not subject you to the same scrutiny when you carry the same issues.
Flashpoint Beyond #5 opens on a perversely funny scene, when it wastes no time in completely poo-poohing the entirety of Dark Crisis in the first three panels. Really! The opening literally spoils how Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths concludes, so… spoilers, I suppose!
Not that any of this recap is shocking, but the way it’s delivered feels almost impetuous. Like Infinite Frontier before it, DC hasn’t even washed their hands of the previous event before diminishing it to lift up the next “big bad” of their grand, ultimate story. I might be offended if I gave a fuck about any of it. The baffling thing, however, is the lack of self-awareness about it all. The next page has Dr Baxter launching into a long-winded explanation of hypertime, immediately after dismissing the previous crises that were once seen as the be-all and end-all. There’s always a bigger fish, I suppose.
Not only is this level of one-upmanship getting ridiculous, but it doesn’t even make much sense. Does anyone think this explanation of hypertime was any good? Because to me, this a clunky and rushed exposition dump to trick us into caring about whatever the hell Geoff Johns has planned next, now that he’s back in the DC Comics playground. It’s like this company is running the same scam on us over and over again, hoping we won’t notice the grift when they give it a new coat of paint–
Oh! Now, who’s this over here?
Holy cow, guys! This man says his name is Mister CD, and he has a brand new idea for an event that’s way cooler than all those other, less interesting events we’ve had to deal with! I say we hear him out. I like it when he says he’s going to make sure Superman matters again. Let’s hear it for CD Comics!
You might think I’m spending too much time talking about this, and normally I’d agree. The issue, however, is that this is what Flashpoint Beyond #5 is concerned with over anything else. It has hints of what I liked in the first few issues: Thomas Wayne’s nihilism overtaking his common sense, and Gilda Dent acting as an interesting new take on Two Face being two major examples. But now we’re letting these take a backseat to the all-important grand plot, now with a special guest star! Martha Wayne’s Joker has come back from the dead, spouting nonsense about interdimensional conspiracy and how she became an expert on timeline hopping. No one truly dies in comics, after all – because why should they? “Everything matters”, except when it comes to someone even toying with the idea of mortality for a single second.
At this point, there’s a part of me that wonders if Xermanico was hired as a way for this book to cheat its way into my good graces, regardless of its quality. I’m obviously a fan of his work, and I’ve made that very clear in my previous reviews – though I swear, the fact that I’ve reviewed so much of his work is only a coincidence. My favourite part of his work this issue is how he tilts the panels of the comic about whenever the Joker is acting disruptive – this isn’t an astounding display of innovation, but it’s one of many things that combine to create an aura of growing tension and unease, like the reminder of Joker’s victims on display underneath all the action.
If I had to pick a favourite page this issue, I’d have to say it’s the following double-page spread. Batman bursting through the glass is exciting and dramatic, of course, but I like the way the shards of glass reflect moments in the life of Batman and his Robins, showing the consistent pattern of them being put in danger by association with him. It’s stuff like that which–
Wait. Hang on.
Computer, enhance that image, will you?
You son of a bitch. You’re trying to make Three Jokers happen?
He is! He’s trying to make Three Jokers happen!
You know Johns, if people liked Three Jokers, there probably would be more Three Jokers content out there right now. Even if people did, I certainly didn’t – and my opinion on that book has only diminished since I made those reviews in 2020! It’s ridiculous that instead of Johns actually moving on to a different career path (as what seemed to be the case), we’re now having to reckon with the inevitable relevance of that mess of a book, two years after it landed on store shelves. That’s not the only thing, either – my friend very correctly pointed out that this entire business with the Time Masters is playing into something Johns wrote into the ending of Doomsday Clock.
“Nothing ever ends”, indeed. Well, I guess it was too much to hope for this book to be a story that could stand on its own. Look forward to the next event, guys.
- Thomas Wayne’s story arc trumps your feelings on hypertime and Johns’ next “universe altering story”.
- You want an event that’s a little more well-written than Dark Crisis, but only slightly less vaccuous.
- You’re like me, and happen to accidentally read anything Xermanico’s involved in. Please tackle more indies, take me away from the DC rabbithole!
I had quite a bit of fun writing this review, but at the end of it I find myself feeling a little sad. I don’t know why I thought this would end any other way – hell, I began my issue #0 review with the proviso of why I felt this comic was creatively bankrupt. I suppose for a moment, I was hoping the story could perhaps escape the endless ouroboros of DC events, and do something that doesn’t try to suck me back into the same old tired comic book tropes. But maybe I was wrong to expect that from Johns – or indeed, from DC.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch