GET TO THE FLASHPOINT, Week 6: Batman, Traci 13, Secret Seven, Abin Sur
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 second issues of...
• Batman: Knight of Vengeance by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
• World of Flashpoint by Rex Ogle and Eduardo Francisco
• Secret Seven by Peter Milligan, Fernando Blanco and Scott Koblish
• Abin Sur The Green Lantern by Adam Schlagman and Felipe MassaferaBATMAN: KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #2 - RECOMMENDED
HUGE SPOILER WARNING
When we last left Dr. Thomas Wayne, Flashpoint's Batman, he'd been asked to rescue Judge Harvey Dent's children from the Joker. It's an intensely personal case for Wayne, whose young son Bruce was gunned down in a mugging gone wrong. Jim Gordon oversees Wayne's privatized version of Gotham's police and takes the lead on the Joker investigation, going to Oracle for advice. That sets up the issue's first of many alternate universe revelations. In Flashpoint, Oracle is Selina Kyle, who has been left a full quadriplegic with no use of her limbs whatsoever, and it's implied that the Joker bears the responsibility for her injuries. Selina watches over an array of computer screens like the normal DCU's Oracle, except that she's surrounded by cats.
Batman goes off searching for his own leads, like going to a dive bar and hitting sad drunk Harvey Bullock so hard that Bullock pees himself. Bartender Renee Montoya comes to Bullock's defense and shows Batman their unfortunate bouncer who came into contact with Joker toxins. Batman puts the man out of his misery by snapping his neck, reminding us that Thomas Wayne's feelings about murdering people are similar to Bruce Wayne's feelings about endangering minors.
Meanwhile, Gordon's found the Joker's hideout. The villain, who looks an awful lot like the Heath Ledger Dark Knight incarnation with long shaggy locks and bright red smile, has left a twisted trap for Gordon. Dent's daughter has been propped up on a chair and given a coat and wig to make her look like the Joker, so when Jim Gordon bursts in all jumping sideways and shooting like the star of a Hong Kong action movie he ends up putting a bullet right in the girl's chest. As Gordon stands in shock over the girl's body, the Joker comes up and cuts the man's throat open, which leads to the big, big reveal, the Joker's true identity: Martha Wayne. And her hideout? The ruins of Wayne Manor. Just as Thomas' loss of a son drove him mad enough to fight crime, Martha's loss drove her insane in very much the opposite direction.
Azzarello and Risso did a great job building up the tension to this shocker, playing up the impact of the tragic loss of children through Thomas Wayne and the Dents before the payoff. I can't wait to see how it all comes together in the final installment, and I'll legitimately be sad there'll only ever be three issues of this series.
WORLD OF FLASHPOINT #2
Traci 13 uses her magic powers to begin a worldwide teleportation tour, seeking recruits to help fight her father and his coalition's plan to nuke what remains of Western Europe, settling the feud between the Amazons and Atlanteans and killing millions of innocent people. What follows is an opportunity for several quick meetings with minor but beloved DCU characters to see how their alternate realities unfolded in Flashpoint.
Traci's first stop is Madame Xanadu in a moment that follows the lines of the Luke/Yoda in Return of the Jedi but with more revealing clothes. Her aged mentor dead, Traci's next stop is Japan where she meets one of the Red Tornado robots, who seems willing to help her. Except that Dr. T. O. Morrow needs to put the finishing touches on him first. Unfortunately, Morrow's been dead for a while. And so Traci goes to Brazil, where Natasha Irons is leading anarchist resistance troops against South American Nazis. Natasha agrees with Traci's father's pro-nuke-the-bastards approach and refuses to help. Traci then heads to Namibia, where Grodd's gorilla army is stacking up piles of corpses for fun and where a feral Changeling saves Traci from a firing squad by changing into an insect, flying inside a gorilla's head, and then changing back to his human form thus exploding the head from inside.
Traci leaves the depressing and poorly constructed African wars gorillallegory to visit my favorite of her destinations, Australia. Specifically to Warriors, a bar in Queensland owned and operated by former rageaholic and current practicing Buddhist Guy Gardner (this is a story I'd love to see get 20 pages instead of only two). Traci's off to Antarctica next, where she rescues Circe, who's been imprisoned by the Amazonian warrior Penthesilea after she attempted to warn Diana about the plot to create the Amazon-Atlantis war. Circe is grateful, but not grateful enough to help save the Amazons, whom she'd glad to see go up in a mushroom cloud. Traci's last stop is a church in Gotham where she's consoled by - wait for it - Father Jason Todd. He listens to her story and tells her of his own hard life, in which he fell in with Brother Blood's cult, died, came back to life, and got taken in by the Catholic Church (because apparently no matter what reality he's in, Jason Todd is a magnet for people and organizations that have unfortunate associations with teenage boys).
With no allies assembled but many personal lessons learned, Traci travels back home to confront her father.
SECRET SEVEN #2
Shade, the Changing Man is probably crazy. This is Shade's own assessment. His problem is he can't be certain whether he's "has disturbing hallucinations"-crazy or "murders closest friends"-crazy, due to a patchy memory. Unfortunately, before making certain whether or not he killed the last other six members of the Secret Seven, Shade decides to call in their replacements, the new Secret Seven. Because really, what's the worst that could happen?
First up is June Moone, the woman whose body had been possessed by the Enchantress and who Shade freed at the end of issue #1. As soon as he gets June back into her own mind, Shade's next stop is getting into her pants, which also goes splendidly. Shade's next recruit is Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, who gets a psychic madness beacon from Shade and is less than pleased to be so abruptly summoned into the presence of a madman. Third is Abra Kadabra, who, if you're not familiar with him, is a villain from the 64th century, an era when thin handlebar mustaches and not buttoning your shirt will be the height of style. Kadabra came back to the present to use advanced technology to duplicate the effects of stage magic. He has no intention of joining up with the Secret Seven and holds a press conference to make their identities public. We're then shown the other three members of the group- Mindwarp, who can project his soul out of his body; Raven, whose red skin and four yellow eyes are reminiscent of her "evil" form; and Zatanna, whose Flashpoint incarnation probably got costume advice from DCnU Suicide Squad cover girl Harley Quinn, wearing only a bra, panties, a leather jacket and hip-high black boots while riding a motorcycle that magically changes into her father and then back into a motorcycle.
Shade probably would have gotten around to summoning the rest of the Seven with his crazy mind beams, but Princess Amethyst is found dead and Shade thinks he probably did it. And with that as the last page reveal, I'd almost be surprised if it did turn out to be Shade's fault, as that'd be a little straightforward. Which isn't to say that Secret Seven couldn't benefit from being a little more straightforward. I think what's actually going on in the book has barely been set up with only one issue left, but my real problem is that this issue's visuals are a steep drop down from how impressive the George Perez mindscapes and alternate planes of existence were in issue #1.
ABIN SUR THE GREEN LANTERN #2
Abin Sur was last seen crashing to Earth and in need of help to save the universe. Abin's taken by Cyborg and the U.S. government and then introduced to the world by President Barack Obama, and then let go to carry on his mission to rescue the white entity of life. Cyborg invites him to meeting of heroes in Gotham, setting the events up to this point before the first issue of the main Flashpoint book.
From there Abin gets scolded by the Guardians for not paying attention their orders to stop crying about how everyone on Earth is going to die and get on with retrieving the entity. Green Lantern Sinestro shows up, not on behalf of the Guardians but instead with his own motive. Sinestro's been interrogating Red Lantern leader Atrocitus and has learned of the prophecy of Flashpoint (you know, in case anyone was worried we were going to go through this event without any character directly referring to it by name). Sinestro knows that the past has been altered and that the Flash is trying to change things back. He also knows that in the correct timeline, Abin's homeworld of Ungara is not destroyed, but Abin is dead and so is Abin's sister Arin, who Sinestro loved. Based on no evidence but the word of his sworn enemy who he was brutally torturing for information, Sinestro also believes that he can use the Flash to create a new timeline in which all the problems of the Flashpoint universe are gone but Arin still lives. In order to do it, Sinestro must kill Abin Sur first. So the two Green Lanterns fight each other with melee weapon energy constructs and Sinestro cuts Abin Sur's ring hand off. Really, DC? Another hand cut off? But it made me wonder, if all the lantern corps get their power from their rings, why aren't they trying to cut each others' hands off all the time?
And with a full-page splash panel of Abin Sur's arm stump spewing grape jelly, we bid farewell to another week of Flashpoint. Next week, we return to Frankenstein, Aquaman, Deathstroke and Citizen Cold.