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GET TO THE FLASHPOINT, Week 13: Lois Lane, Superman, Kid Flash, Hal Jordan

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

  • Project Superman by Scott Snyder, Lowell Francis and Gene Ha
  • Lois Lane and the Resistance by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Christian Duce and Walden Wong
  • Kid Flash Lost by Sterling Gates, Oliver Nome, Scott Kolins and Trevor Scott
  • Hal Jordan by Adam Schlagman and Cliff Richards

LOIS LANE AND THE RESISTANCE #3

Penny Black was a technician aboard an experimental British ship that generated a “frictionless field” so that it might travel faster than any other vessel. With shades of the supposed Philadelphia experiment involving the USS Eldridge, Black’s ship disappeared from the ocean but later reappeared on land next to Stonehenge, with the entire crew gone — except Penny, who all of a sudden had superpowers. The government made her a suit of armor to focus those powers and she became Britannia, who’s kind of like a British Iron Man with a DDD-Cup.

The last issue of Lois Lane ended with Lois and the resistance trying to break into a guarded location containing a secret weapon developed by the United Kingdom’s military — a weapon invented by Penny Black. Ms. Hyde has captured Lois in an ambush and threatened to kill her unless the others surrender, as Hyde’s turned traitor thanks to the Amazons’ offer of a cure for her condition. Or at least the part of Hyde that’s actually Bobbie Stephenson turned traitor. When she suddenly turns back into Hyde, her other persona’s firmly on the resistance side and starts swatting Amazons. While Grifter and the Demon hold their attackers off, Lois and Penny go in search of Penny’s armor.

Penny finds her gear just in the nick of time, with the Amazon Artemis inches away from cutting Lois open. Penny stops Artemis by punching her torso off. Lois Lane is seconds from death when a woman in a metal suit of armor punches another woman so hard that her torso is graphically separated from the rest of her body, spinning upward and sending blood and intestines flying everywhere.

Penny leaves to fight Wonder Woman while Lois stays behind. There’s a big confrontation where Penny reveals to Diana the prison camps and genetic experiments the Amazons had been conducting on the native population. Understandably upset, Diana has a change of heart and orders the camps immediately shut down before setting off to have the confrontation with Penthesilea we saw last week… so that she can then go have the confrontation with Aquaman we saw two weeks ago.

You may have noticed that Lois has been taking a mostly supporting role so far. Given how little she’s had of the spotlight in her own title, I almost feel like calling this book “Lois Lane and the Resistance” is like saying “Ringo Starr and the Beatles.” However, Lois does get one last moment of glory when she finds an old emergency broadcast unit that she uses to send out into the world a report on the Amazons and the Resistance. A group of Amazons find her and cut her broadcast off for good. Or so it would seem…

PROJECT SUPERMAN – RECOMMENDED #3

For anyone who only read Lois Lane and the Resistance, it would appear that Lois dies off-panel, after the Amazons crept up behind and we “heard” an ominous “BOOOM!” But Project Superman reveals that said “BOOOM!” was actually caused by Kal-El, bursting through the wall to save Lois Lane.

The final issue of Project Superman picks up not from the conclusion to issue #2, but from Flashpoint Superman’s disappearance in the main Flashpoint book after Cyborg, Batman and the Flash broke him out of the secret government lab where he’d been imprisoned. Superman heads directly for the UK and is horrorstruck by the carnage. He soon speeds off toward what he’s really there to find: Lois Lane.

Also freed in the break-in that set Kal loose was Subject Zero, the previous super-soldier experiment from Project Superman. He’s freed from the Phantom Zone and out for revenge. First Subject Zero kills General Lane, then he sets off to find Lane’s daughter and the boy Lane came to see as a surrogate son, Kal, but not before absorbing the residual energy from the corpse of Doomsday that he happened to find in a spare room somewhere.

Transformed in a hulking beast, Subject Zero shows up to challenge Kal, who looks so much like the stereotypical 90-pound weakling that you’d believe Zero could beat him just by kicking sand in his face. But Kal’s starting to get the hang of his powers and puts up a fight. Zero yells at him, repeating his zen mantra that Kal’s only suffering because he’s allowed himself to become attached to the world and the people in it. But Kal finds new strength and a reason to fight, and for the second time this week someone’s torso gets punched off.

The torso-punch has the unfortunate side-effect of sending out shrapnel or excess energy (or something) that fatally wounds Lois. Her final words to Kal explicitly address the cliche of the girl dying to inspire the hero, and she tells him to go save the world because it’s the right thing to do. So with Lois dead (again), Kal declares that he must now “be a superman”, which we’ll see happen in Flashpoint #5.

As self-admittedly cliched as Project Superman’s finale sometimes was, it was still an enjoyable read. The arcs of Kal and Subject Zero across the series were well told, and Lois has a more significant role to play here than in her own book. The weakling Kal-El was an interesting twist to the Superman mythos that explored in a new way important themes about power and the responsibilities of those who have it. Project Superman was able to be both fresh and familiar, and stands out as one of the best tie-in series to come out of Flashpoint.

KID FLASH LOST #3

Kid Flash Lost also ended strongly this week, with an issue that made me wish the rest of the series could have been more like this one. When last we’d seen Bart Allen he’d escaped a dystopian future ruled by Brainiac by getting drawn back into the Speed Force. But when he first appears in 1889 Texas, Bart’s been somehow contaminated with the death energy of the Black Flash. When he touches fellow speedster Max Mercury, who dedicated Flash fans know was alive at the time, Max is killed and Bart absorbs his speed force energy.

Bart continues to be pulled through time and begins to recognize the rift in reality that’s creating the Flashpoint universe. Kid Flash witnesses the death of Jay Garrick and sees the grave of Wally West. He draws speed force energy from these other speedsters until he finally finds Barry Allen. Upon meeting his grandfather, Bart becomes a “White Flash,” “the living embodiment of the energy of the Speed Force”, before transferring his powers to Barry and then disintegrating like Barry did back in the original mega-event, Crisis on Infinite Earths.

It’s a touching death for the character that also seems meant to be a farewell, in a way, to all the other speedsters as Barry Allen takes on that responsibility almost on his own in the imminent DC Comics relaunch. Of course, that does make it a bit odd that Bart was the character chosen to tell this particular story. Because Bart will return in Teen Titans, this story would have had a much more powerful impact if it were Wally West disintegrating and passing back the torch that had been given to him in the first Crisis. Even Jay Garrick would have worked, considering we still don’t know when we might be seeing the Golden Age DC heroes again. Nevertheless, this was a satisfying end to the miniseries.

HAL JORDAN #3

How many times have you seen the movie Independence Day? In watching the climactic battle scene in which Randy Quaid sacrifices himself to kill aliens and save us all, have you said, how many times have you asked, “This is great but I wish I could read it as a comic instead?”

The second issue of Flashpoint’s Hal Jordan miniseries ended with Hal volunteering for a suicide mission into Amazon territory, where he was to launch a nuclear weapon. Even though the most recent issue of the main Flashpoint book announced that Hal had died a hero during the mission, I was expecting there to be some twist in this miniseries, but there isn’t. He’s dead, and before this issue even came out.

We see Carol Ferris volunteering to go along with Hal, but when they arrive at the Amazon-held United Kingdom they discover that their target is — gasp — surrounded by a force field, so none of their shots are getting through. Richards’ art does well to capture the large scale of the combat, which includes invisible planes, Amazon furies with armored wings, and Giganta, whose eyes Hal shoots out.

It all builds to a climax in which Hal’s plane is damaged, his nuclear missile won’t launch, and his ejector seat won’t eject. Carol’s in bad shape, too. Hal tells her they’ll both eject on the count of three, but as she ejects at a safe distance he’s stuck riding his jet into a nuclear fireball.

In an epilogue we’re shown Carol being given Hal’s belongings, including his journal, his flight jacket, and a small box. Carol reads the journal, in which Hal left a message telling her he’d always loved her but was afraid to tell her. She opens the box to find a wedding ring. Not an engagement ring, mind you, but a wedding ring. Suggesting he was sure what her answer would have been if he’d ever told her. Because even in death, Hal Jordan is an over-confident self-assured jerk.

This brings us to the end of the Flashpoint tie-ins. Thanks for following along. If you haven’t been reading every single tie-in published, I’d recommend at least checking out Batman: Knight of Vengeance and Project Superman. If you’re looking to read the books that’ll most provide the background to the events of Flashpoint #5, give a look to Emperor Aquaman, Wonder Woman and the Furies and Lois Lane and the Resistance.

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