GET TO THE FLASHPOINT, Week 7: Frankenstein, Aquaman, Deathstroke, 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 second issues of
- Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown by Jeff Lemire, Ibraim Roberson and Alex Massacci
- Emperor Aquaman by Tony Bedard, Vicente Cifuentes and Diana Egea
- Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager by Jimmy Palmiotti, Joe Bennett and Tony Shasteen
- Citizen Cold by Scott Kolins
FRANKENSTEIN AND THE CREATURES OF THE UNKNOWN #2 - RECOMMENDED
Lemire and Roberson's Frankenstein series became an instant favorite for me when it led off issue #1 with Frankenstein killing Hitler and thus ending World War II. That's a tough start to follow, and while issue #2 didn't couldn't have left me as blown away, it still managed to keep me interested in these characters and where this series is headed despite the fact that this book continues to give no impression that it'll have any impact or strong connection to the larger Flashpoint story.
When last we left our heroes, this crack monster commando unit was imprisoned in suspended animation by a government too frightened to celebrate their accomplishments. Over 60 years later, they escaped. Three out of four of them are dying as a result of the science experiment that created them, and they're pretty screwed unless they reach a secret lab in Gotham. Chasing the group is Shrieve, a monster hunter who's also the granddaughter of Lt. Matthew Shrieve, the team's commanding officer in during the War.
The team of Frankenstein, fish-girl Nina Mazursky, werewolf Warren Griffith and vampire Vincent Velcoro reach Mazursky's father's lab safely. We get some flashbacks about how Dr. Mazursky changed Nina into a fish creature in order to save her life from a fatal lung condition. Then the government monster hunters show up and Shrieve and Frankenstein take turns kicking impressive amounts of ass in a fairly evenly matched battle, which leads up to a well-done revelation about Shrieve's motivations: Her grandfather, unaware that his old squard had been double-crossed by his superiors, never gave up on trying to find them. He formed a new team of creature commandoes consisting of a Medusa, a living skeleton on fire, and what looks like but may or may not be Man-Bat and Solomon Grundy. Long story short, new team wasn't as trustworthy as the old team and they brutally killed Shrieve and his entire family with only his granddaughter escaping. She developed something of a "Kill All Monsters" complex as a result.
Griffith the werewolf ends up taking a bullet from Shrieve's gun when the monster hunter decides she's the only one who'll get to give backstory in this fight, and even tries to shoot Nina before fish-girl can tell her side of the story. But just when things seem most dire, the team's rescued by the Bride of Frankenstein -- who, in yet another missed Flashpoint opportunity, is only carrying pistols in two out of her four arms when she comes in guns blazing to save the day.
I'm very curious to see how this series wraps up next issue. It's impressed me most out of the Flashpoint books that are clearly direct tie-ins to upcoming DC relaunch books. Before this I was on the fence about Lemire's Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., but after these two issues I'm excited to start reading it come September.
EMPEROR AQUAMAN #2
The first issue of Emperor Aquaman gave us insight to the Atlantean side of the Amazon-Atlantis war, and issue #2 finally gives us the origin of Flashpoint's Aquaman. As Prince Orm, the Ocean Master, and Siren, Mera's sister, head off on a mission to infiltrate New Themyscira and kill Tara Markov in order to allow Atlantis to sink the island, Aquaman flashes back to his childhood. As was the case in the normal DC Universe, Aquaman was born as a result of the love between creepy lighthouse-dwelling loner Thomas Curry and flighty blonde runaway Atlantean princess Atlanna. The pregnant Atlanna is discovered and taken home, where she dies giving birth to Arthur. The baby is left to die out in a reef, but the fish of the sea recognize him as their sovereign and deliver him to his father's lighthouse. For a time, fat baby Aquaman is happy.
Until on his thirteenth birthday, Atlanteans come back to take young Arthur Curry, as their king is dead and the new leader has decided that it might be a good idea to go find that baby everyone assumed they killed. Father Curry is killed attempting to protect his son in a scene whose tragedy is somewhat undercut by the festive birthday atmosphere.
The book then goes on to state that because Aquaman was taken when he was still young and went to Atlantean schools instead of Catholic ones, he became a power-hungry bastard with no desire to help the less fortunate, because, apparently, Christianity's the only thing between people behing cool or total jerks to one another.
Maybe it would have been better if Aquaman had spent more time focusing on the problems at hand rather than reminiscing, because his assassination mission goes badly. Siren is caught and killed by Penthesilea, who gives new meaning to the term "brokeback pose" when she spears Siren directly in between her breasts and out her back, bending her body in such a way that her chest and buttocks are facing the same direction, only with lots of bloodspurts.
Wonder Woman's Furies -- Hawkgirl, Huntress and Cheetah -- speed to attack Aquaman's submarine, where Wonder Woman himself appears to challenge him. Odds are next month we'll be seeing flashbacks to Wonder Woman's killing of Mera, which has yet to be actually shown.
DEATHSTROKE AND THE CURSE OF THE RAVAGER #2
The book that sees Aquaman kicking tremendous amounts of ass this week is not Aquaman's own book, but instead Deathstroke's. Last month's Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager #1 ended on a cliffhanger, with Deathstroke impaled through the chest by Aquaman's trident. "How is Deathstroke going to get out of this one?", we asked. It turns out the answer is by laying motionless in tremendous pain while Aquaman proceeds to butcher his crew. There's a scene where Clayface is thrown overboard and pulled down so deep by Aquaman that his eyes pop out. But Deathstroke and some of his crew survive when Aquaman and Ocean Master, who've threatened to kill any man who dares to trespass onto their waters, decide they have more important things to do elsewhere and just leave when they're halfway done.
But the whims of Aquaman aren't all it takes to save Deathstroke's life. He also needs Eel's electric powers to act as an impromptu defibrillator and Sonar's sonic powers to "sonic out" a fragment of metal stuck in his heart. How do sonic powers do that? Just like in Doctor Who, that's how -- stop asking questions. Anyway, Deathstroke must continue his quest to rescue his daughter, captured by people we don't know for reasons we're not aware of and held prisoner in a place we're not sure about. Unfortunately his search is quickly interrupted by the Warlord's fleet, who's out for revenge. Things don't look good until the timely appearance of Jenny Blitz, the girl in a freezer pod they'd rescued earlier, who decides to blow up Warlord's ship. They all agree she's in charge now.
CITIZEN COLD #2
You know how, since discovering himself in the Flashpoint universe, Barry Allen has yet to say "I wonder how my friend Wally West is doing?" In much the same way that characters in the normal DC Universe have not really asked the question, "I wonder how Wally West is doing?" in quite some time? Well, for Barry's sake let's all hope he continues to forget to ask. Because Wally's dead. In the last issue of Citizen Cold, Wally discovered Cold's "terrible secret" of the kind of crime-filled past people easily forgive you for if you're a major celebrity. Cold responded by freezing Wally in a block of ice in a building that he then burned to the ground.
While Snart is committing murder to prevent anyone from damaging his heroic reputation, his rogues' gallery -- which consists of Fallout, Mirror Master, Tarpit and the Weather Wizard -- escapes from maximum security prison. On their way out they kidnap Snart's sister, Lisa, who Citizen Cold imprisoned because he's both afraid of the secret she could expose about his past and the leverage his enemies could have if they held a member of his family hostage. So, naturally, she was put in the same prison as all of his worst enemies with superpowers that make them difficult to contain.
Cold is called away from hitting on Iris West in the creepiest, most disturbing journalistic interview I've seen in quite some time to go get his sister back. He fails spectacularly, as his sister is killed by Fallout. Cold himself is nearly killed in the process. Meanwhile the Pied Piper continues to follow the clues Wally left behind until he stumbles upon a trap set by Cold and is presumably exploded to death.
Citizen Cold has managed the impressive feat of taking a character who's a villain in the DCU proper and making him a crime-fighting anti-hero who's even less likable than he was as a straightforward baddie.
Next week: the second issues of Deadman and the Flying Graysons, Legion of Doom, The Outsider, and Wonder Woman and the Furies.