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GET TO THE FLASHPOINT, Week 9 – Project Superman, Lois Lane, Hal Jordan, Kid Flash

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

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

PROJECT SUPERMAN #2 – RECOMMENDED

In the last issue of Project Superman we saw a military volunteer transformed into a super soldier so frighteningly powerful that the U.S. government locked him away out of fear. At the issue’s conclusion, a spaceship carrying an infant from the stars crashed into Metropolis along with a shower of devastating meteors. Issue #2 jumps to nine years later, when the occupant of that spaceship, designated Subject One by the government, is experimented upon in the same facility where the earlier failed test case, Subject Zero, is still being held. Overseeing the experiments is General Sam Lane, who tries to bond with the boy by referring to him as Kal, the closest scientists can get to translating his true name.

Lane is motivated by the absence of his own children. His excessive dedication to his work has led to his wife taking their daughters and leaving him. Lane tries to see the frightened and yet dangerous small boy as a surrogate son, and is the only person on the base who seems to care for him. But Kal only shows affection for Subject Two, Flashpoint’s Krypto the Super-Dog. And all this time Subject Zero has found a way to whisper in a way only Kal can hear, teaching the young boy how to let both of them escape.

First, though, Subject Zero drives the boy to further hate his captors. Lionel Luthor (sporting full majestic John Glover hair) visits with his redheaded son Lex to inspect the facility he’s been helping to pay for. They’re shown Krypto, within whom Subject Zero is able to trigger a sudden rage, to which Lionel Luthor responds by using his son as a human shield. Krypto tears little Lex Luthor limb from limb. Krypto is put down with what appears to be a kryptonite gun and . . .

Hang on a second, why is my last name on that gun?

I have a pretty common last name, and what I want to think here is that’s probably a reference to Murphy’s Law. Because the sentiment of “If Anything Can Go Wrong, It Will” is a pretty badass/hubristic concept to put right on your experimental super-science gun. But if there are answers out there to this question, I’m honestly curious to know.

Anyway, Kal/Superman is about as happy as can be for a nine-year-old boy who’s been imprisoned by the government, had horrible experiments conducted on him, and then had his dog and only friend killed. Two days later, when General Lane’s daughter Lois is visiting for his birthday, Kal and Subject Zero escape. But when Subject Zero attempts to kill Lois to get revenge on General Lane, Kal stands in his way.The General and Subject Zero then become trapped in the Phantom Zone, leaving Kal to be tested by General Nathaniel Adam, with only his memory of meeting Lois to comfort him.

LOIS LANE AND THE RESISTANCE #2

While the first issue of Lois Lane and the Resistance focused on the intrepid reporter’s attempt to infiltrate the Amazon-conquered United Kingdom, issue two could more accurately be titled The Resistance Starring Grifter and Also Lois Lane is There Sometimes. The WildStorm hero appears here in an effort to build up the anticipation for his upcoming series in the DC relaunch, and while it’s by no means a bad book it is a bit disheartening to see Lois relegated to a background character in the second issue of her own three-part series.

The book picks up events from both the first issue of the series and the Canterbury Cricket one-shot. Grifter, along with Etrigan the Demon, Godiva, Ms. Hyde and the Canterbury Cricket, are escaping a kill team of Amazonian Furies. They kill several of those Furies, including Hawkgirl and Cheetah, before getting away. They’re then able to make contact with Lois and Penny Black, the resistance fighter who rescued Lane in the last issue, which leads us into the story of just how Grifter, an American, came to be the leader of the UK’s anti-Amazon resistance fighters.

Grifter had been part of a special U.S. military team consisting of Sergeant Rock, John Stewart, Lady Blackhawk, Kate Kane, Gunner and Lt. Reid (presumably David “Magog” Reid). They’re described as “pretty much the best covert team the U.S. could field” in a narration box accompanying a panel in which the group run across an open field toward a fortified base uphill on a mountain top with no cover in broad daylight while firing weapons in all directions. That is not a very good covert team at all, so it does not come as much of a surprise when all of them except for Grifter are killed in an explosion on the next page. Grifter is rescued by Penny Black, wearing a technopathic weapon suit developed by the British government. Grifter finds getting his life saved so irresistibly charming that once his stay in a hospital is over, he rushes to London to track her down.

Now the resistance fighters are out to locate the newest model of the Britannia suit to use as a weapon, and the communication device Lois has from Cyborg helps them pinpoint its location, Parliament. I know if I had a secret super-weapon, the people I’d want it nearest in an emergency are my government’s elected officials. Their efforts go about as well as Grifter’s earlier covert operations. Etrigan gets filled with magical arrows and is not in good shape. And then Hyde turns traitor and threatens to kill Lois if they don’t all surrender.

HAL JORDAN #2

Most of issue #2 of Hal Jordan involves a fight between jets and a three-headed fire-breathing dragon thing. It’s honestly pretty awesome and a fun scene to see played out in a comic book. But aside from Hal and Carol slaying a mythical beast (which I should mention was dropped out of an invisible Amazonian plane as an improvised weapon in an attack on Coast City) not much happens here. Hal says bye bye to Abin Sur after rescuing him at the end of last issue. I knew this was coming since the two parted ways in the Abin Sur book’s second issue, but I’m still a little surprised this book and that book aren’t more connected considering their lead characters and the fact that Schlagman’s writing both of them.

Hal decides to go his own way. That way is going to involve climbing into Abin’s repaired spaceship and using it to drop a “Green Arrow Nuke” somewhere after being specially chosen for the mission by President Obama. It’s not clear exactly where that nuke is headed, as Hal’s had to fight off attacks from both Atlantis and the Amazons, but the target might just be “Europe” since there’s a big red circle on the continent that can be seen on the map behind Hal and Obama’s emotionless handshake on the last page. It’s also not entirely clear what the expected survivability of this mission is, but indications point to “low”. And it’s unclear whether Hal’s decision to accept the mission is due to his death wish or his desire to take on responsibility or a little of both.

KID FLASH LOST #2

In the first issue of Kid Flash Lost, Bart Allen was trapped in a Brainiac-controlled future unlike the one he remembered. Bart still had memories of the normal DCU and, alongside Patty Spivot, who’d taken the costume and speed force-powered motorcycle of the villain Hot Pursuit, set out to restore the timestream to its correct path. Sadly, Bart found the speed force had abandoned him and that he’d come down with a nasty case of chronic Marty-McFly-disappearing-from-time-syndrome.

That condition’s not getting any better in issue #2. Bart’s worse, in fact, as layers of skin and muscle are randomly fading in and out of view on Kid Flash’s body — particularly his face, making him look more like Kid Jonah Hex.

Bart can’t come up with a plan good enough to defeat Brainiac, so his plan is to get captured by Brainiac and get himself plugged back into the virtual reality world that simulates the speed force, thus giving him a super fast brain that lets him hack Brainiac’s system from the inside.
Hot Pursuit nobly sacrifices herself to let Bart escape, and with his connection to the speed force restored he disappears somewhere into time in the hopes of finding The Flash and setting the world right.

I’m curious to see whether this is a series that ultimately has any impact on the resolution of Flashpoint’s main story. Bart’s one of the few characters to have any awareness that reality is somehow wrong and his adventure would seem a little pointless if he didn’t have some hand in fixing it.

Next week: The Flashpoint miniseries begin to conclude, with the final issues of Batman: Knight of Vengeance, Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager, Secret Seven and World of Flashpoint.

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