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GET TO THE FLASHPOINT, Week 11: Frankenstein, Deadman, Aquaman, Citizen Cold

Flashpoint is DC Comics‘ summer event of 2011 that promises to change the DC Universe unrecognizably until the event’s climactic finale, when the DC Universe will instead be left changed somewhat recognizably. In support of the event, DC is releasing 60+ issues of comic books across 22 titles in just three months. You’d have to be deranged to expend the time, effort and money to follow it all, but fortunately for you, ComicsAlliance has never been particularly whole in the sanity department. Over the next few months we’ll be reading every single Flashpoint tie-in so we can tell you what you need to know. There are bound to be some good ones and we’ll recommend them to you. The rest of them may contain some facts you’ll need to make sense of what’s going on in the overall Flashpoint, and we’ll help you piece that together as well.

This week in Get to the Flashpoint, we look at the final issues of

  • Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown by Jeff Lemire, Andy Smith and Keith Champagne
  • Deadman and the Flying Graysons by J.T. Krul and Fabrizio Fiorentino
  • Emperor Aquaman by Tony Bedard, Vicente Cifuentes and Diana Egea
  • Citizen Cold by Scott Kolins

FRANKENSTEIN AND THE CREATURES OF THE UNKNOWN #3

Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown really impressed me with its first issue, and I had more fun reading this book than most other Flashpoint tie-ins. Issue three picks up from the resolution to issue two, where the Bride of Frankenstein has shown up to rescue Frankenstein, the vampire Velcoro, the werewolf Griffith and the fishwoman Nina Mazursky. Also still alive is Shrieve, the monster hunter sent to kill the team who she blames for her grandfather getting killed by the monsters he recruited to replace them. The Bride has shown up on behalf of S.H.A.D.E., the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive. This secreter-than-top-secret black ops group needs Frankenstein’s help and are counting on him bringing his Hitler-killin’ know-how to deal with the escalating crisis presented by the Amazon-Atlantis war destroying Europe.

The Bride also informs Shrieve that her family was actually killed on the orders of General Lane, who wanted to get the elder Shrieve out of the way because he was bothered by the man’s quest to find the original Creature Commandoes. Despite the fact that this story is presented to her by a monster who was moments ago shooting at her and with no other evidence, Shrieve buys this story after minimal protest and sides with team good guy monsters. But Frankenstein refuses to help unless the Bride helps him find Dr. Mazursky to save the wounded Griffith, so it’s off to Romania.

So the monsters arrive in Romania to find a hidden village populated entirely by vampires, werewolves and fishmonster people who all lived in peace. Until a few minutes ago when a giant robot showed up and killed them all. Still alive is Dr. Mazursky, who has wrapped himself up in mummy bandages and used other mystical powers to live to a very old age. He reveals that he discovered this village in the 1930s and used genetic material from its inhabitants to make the Creature Commandoes. And that his daughter Nina was never really a human and had always been a fishperson he kidnap-dopted. While he uses advanced monster science to heal Griffith and cure him of being a werewolf, Frankenstein and the Bride fight the military super-robot. And that fight scene includes the Bride using all four of her arms to shoot four pistols at once, which is provably awesome. Velcoro sacrifices himself to save Frankenstein, and while Frank, the Bride and Shrieve depart to help save the world, Nina and Griffith stay behind, presumably to live happily ever after as man and fish-wife. Not in the old-timey fish-selling sense.

The series still left me wanting to read more of Frankenstein’s adventures in Lemire’s upcoming S.H.A.D.E. book in the DC relaunch. I was glad to see a larger role for the Bride, whose matter-of-fact, sometimes foul-mouthed, sometimes joking tone makes a nice contrast to Frankenstein’s more lofty, archaic pronouncements. I could see myself enjoying a team book built around those two.

DEADMAN AND THE FLYING GRAYSONS #3

When last we saw these characters, the story had turned more into Deadman and the Dying Graysons. Ha ha, am I right? Ha. But no, seriously, Dick Grayson’s father is dying before his eyes after Amazons attacked their traveling circus and killed Dick Grayson’s mother and that is very sad.

The Amazons have come in search of the Helm of Nabu, worn by Kent “Doctor Fate” Nelson up until his recent death by spear-through-chest. Dick Grayson, Boston “Deadman” Brand and Ragdoll have been rescued by Count Vertigo and are trapped in a basement in the middle of a city that Amazon Starfire is gleefully burning to the ground. See, the Amazons know the Helm will survive intact to be found later. With little choice left to them, the group makes a run for it.

Ragdoll is the first to be killed and Count Vertigo takes another spear to the chest soon afterward, leaving Dick and Boston to take the Helm away from the Amazons. Starfire causes a building to collapse on top of them. Boston gets up to look down at Dick’s sprawled body. He fears that Dick’s dead and that he was unable to fulfill his promise to Dick’s father to save his son. But no! Dick was fine. And it turns out Deadman was dead all along! Which leads to possibly the first time ever I have seen a man kneeling at the side of his own body, looking skyward, and screaming “NOOOOOO!”

Now-actually-dead-Deadman regains his composure quickly enough to notice Dick Grayson’s master plan: Dick’s found a gas tanker attached to a train and is leaking it so that when Starfire attempts to shoot him, she’ll blow the entire train up. Deadman possesses Dick and makes a dramatic leap to safety away from the exploding train, where Starfire and a few Amazons have probably been killed.

Dick meets up with members of the Resistance, including Britannia, Kid Devil, and what appears to be the Vic Sage version of the Question. (will Vic be replacing Renee Montoya post re-launch?). Dick takes the Helm, declares himself to be the new Doctor Fate, and pledges to help the Resistance in their war effort.

Maybe we’ll see a panel or two of how all that turns out in Flashpoint #5. That’s been a recurring problem with the Flashpoint tie-ins, where a lot of these three-issue miniseries have ended on a “to be continued . . .?” note. Because DC’s not likely to return to this setting again, and there’s not going to be enough room for closure to each tie-in in Flashpoint #5, it’d be nice if there was a greater sense of finality to these series on their final pages.

EMPEROR AQUAMAN #3

The finale of Emperor Aquaman picks up from Wonder Woman arriving on Arthur Curry’s submarine to fight him — except that’s not actually what’s she’s there for. Diana, you see, discovered that her Aunt Penthesilea and Aquaman’s brother Orm the Ocean Master were having secret makeout sessions. And what’s more, that these secret makeout sessions were taking place in between secret concoct-a-massive-conspiracy-in-which-Wonder-Woman-and-Aquaman-are-pawns-in-our-plans-to-conquer-and/or-destroy-the-world-we’re-not-really-clear-on-which sessions. Aquaman wants to hear none of it because he’s still pissed that Wonder Woman killed his wife. Mera, and that she’s been wearing Mera’s helmet as a trophy ever since.

Wonder Woman gives Aquaman a lot of backstory on Penthesilea and Ocean Master’s nefarious schemes, some of which we’ve seen before and some of which is probably jumping the gun on the final issue of the Wonder Woman tie-in. But Arthur is mad and just wants to fight to the death. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman’s guards are turning out to be super incompetent, as instead of imprisoning Penthesilea and Ocean Master they just decided to make them stand in a corner. As such, Ocean Master is completely free to push a button that explodes bombs in all the Atlantean ships.

Whose side exactly are Penthesilea and Ocean Master on in the first place? Like, is he betraying the Atlanteans for her? Because blowing up all Atlantis’ ships does not seem like a good move even if he secretly seeks to take his brother’s throne. Why not just blow up the ship Aquaman is on? If he has betrayed Atlantis for the Amazons’ cause, why are the Amazons upset with him and holding him prisoner? Shouldn’t they be happy he just pushed a button that made all their enemies explode? Are both of them betraying their own people? Why? On whose behalf? Why have these two conspiratorial geniuses crafted a scheme that has resulted in the deaths of untold numbers of their own people and, in the Amazons’ case, the destruction of their homeland? What exactly are they gaining from this? It’s pretty close to the end, shouldn’t we know that by now?

No, apparently the end of the series is too soon to know that. So there’s a lot of yelling and glowering from Aquaman and a weird narration about how, if he had been able to have a proper Christian upbringing, he would have better learned the importance of forgiveness and none of the world would be so screwed because he’s just so determined to murder Wonder Woman. I was not expecting a book about a make-believe warrior king of a race of undersea people out for revenge against the ruler of an island of Amazon women with invisible planes to end with such a strong endorsement of Jesus Christ.

CITIZEN COLD #3

There isn’t that much going on in the last issue of Citizen Cold. Len Snart’s true criminal identity has been discovered by Iris West, the woman with a conflicted attraction to him despite his ever-more-creepy attraction to her. Snart offers Iris the chance to run away with him to Dubai after he handles the teensy-weensy detail of killing all of his rogues because they just murdered his sister (whom he had conveniently locked up in the same prison as the rogues to keep his secret safe). Cold kills Tarpit and Fallout by freezing and shattering them and kills Weather Wizard by snapping his neck, just for variety’s sake. Cold is stabbed Mirror Master, who Cold then pushes out of the Mirrorverse, causing Mirror Master to become frozen and shatter.

Cold returns to his apartment to find Iris waiting with Pied Piper. The Piper, who Cold unsuccessfully killed, wants revenge for his best friend Wally West, who Cold froze to death at the end of issue one. Iris is also not pleased to discover her nephew was killed by the man who’s been so awkwardly hitting on her, and thankfully that last bit of evidence seems to have made her come around to the anti-Citizen Cold side of things. She freezes Cold to death with his own weapon and ends the book with an ice-related pun that of course I had to reread out loud to myself in a Schwarzenegger voice.

Next week, the conclusions to Wonder Woman and the Furies, The Outsider, Abin Sur: The Green Lantern and Legion of Doom.

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