New to Comics is a segment where I look at various comic books, explaining their background, reviewing them, and breaking them down for readers unfamiliar to the medium. The title is a reference to a former university project that I carried on as its own site for several years before laying it to rest.
Today’s post celebrates the fact that the ‘Snyder Cut’ of Justice League is finally being released… in 2021. I’ve never really been part of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement, but I am interested in seeing Snyder’s vision for the film. However, with the release more than a year away, I need to sate my DC hunger another way, so I figured it’s time to go back and read the rest of Geoff Johns Justice League, starting with the prologue to both the series and the ‘New 52’ as a whole, Flashpoint.
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Andy Kubert
Collects: Flashpoint #1 – 5
WHAT’s the STORY?
I’ve covered this whole New 52 lark before, but it was a good while ago so it’s worth going over again.
Across its vast history, DC has continuously updated its universe by having some big reality-altering event change the formerly established canon.
Whereas Marvel comics have always operated on one primary timeline, where all the stories always happened, but the dates change as time passes, DC has multiple parallel universes which come and go. For instance, the original heroes that debuted in the thirties and forties were retconned to have been operating in a parallel universe called Earth-2, so their stories could retain their World War II-era setting. Meanwhile, then-modern day storylines would continue in Earth-1.
When things started to get somewhat overwhelming continuity-wise, DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths, which reset the universes again, fusing Earth-1, Earth-2 and others into one cohesive universe, once again with alternate, updated origins.
This would continue every few decades, with stories like Infinite Crisis, Zero Hour and Final Crisis allowing a reset of the continuity, and keeping the characters up to date and relevant. As such, there are three main timelines that have been updated through these crises; Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis and the New 52, which is what we’re on now (although it has itself been updated slightly to reintegrate some older aspects of the DC lore through the Rebirth branding).
The most prominent of these, the Post-Crisis timeline, which lasted from the eighties through til the noughties with some slight changes here and there, ended with Flashpoint, in turn, kicking off the New 52, another more up-to-date soft reboot of the universe, which reimagined DC’s heroes as having only appeared in the last five years.
Fortunately, you don’t actually need to know all of that to appreciate this comic as is. With a basic understanding of the Flash and Batman, and a passing knowledge of other DC characters like Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Cyborg, you should be fine. Especially since the entirety of this takes place in it’s own timeline and all the old continuity is wiped out of existence afterwards anyway.
FEATURED CHARACTERS:Bartholomew Henry Allen
Affiliation: The Justice League
First Appearance: Showcase #4 (October 1956)
Young Barry Allen’s life was thrown into upheaval when his mother was murdered and his father, Henry Allen, was arrested for the crime. The slow, laid-back man became determined to exonerate his father, and Barry spent years working towards becoming a Forensic Scientist, often working late nights and falling behind to the chagrin of his reporter girlfriend Iris West. But it was one of those late nights that changed Barry forever, as a bolt of lightning burst through his laboratory window, dousing Barry in chemicals. From that moment on, Barry was linked to the ‘Speed Force’, extra-dimensional energy that allowed him to move at super-human speeds. Driven by that same sense of justice that leads him to try and prove his father’s innocence, Barry resolved to use his powers for good – becoming the Flash; the fastest man alive!
WHAT’s THE PLOT?
When Barry Allen wakes up to find his mother is alive, he begins to realise not all is right in the world. And after seeking the help of his friend, Batman, Barry realises it is not Bruce under the cowl, but his long-dead father, Thomas Wayne, and that he now occupies a very different timeline to the one he is used to.
Barry suspects that his archnemesis, Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, is behind this time-meddling, but can Barry and Thomas find and defeat Thawne before Barry loses his memories of his old reality, or worse, Wonder Woman and Aquaman destroy the world in the Amazonian-Atlantean war for supremacy?
WHAT’s THE VERDICT?
As far as grand, world-changing epics go, this comic feels fairly small-scale.
That’s not to say that the stakes aren’t huge; from the fallout, you can tell that they obviously are. Plus, the threats that face our heroes – the Flash and Thomas Wayne-Batman, are pretty monumental; the Reverse-Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, with no Superman or Justice League in sight.
But at the same time, it reads like your run-of-the-mill story, and I mean that in a good way. It’s not overly long, it’s a nice, breezy read, and most importantly, the core story is contained to five issues.
There are various tie-ins if you want the complete story, but you could just read this and assume that it was the whole package. Furthermore, while it does set up a whole new reality, the story isn’t concerned with that, just relegating a few pages at the end to explaining it, and focusing on telling the story it wants to tell.
Despite all the large-scale threats, the core of the story is a perfectly heartfelt little tale about superheroes getting to say goodbye to their loved ones (more specifically, their parents).
The art, by Adam Kubert, is dynamic and fun, and perfectly matches the tone of Geoff Johns writing. He comes up with some great alternate designs for the heroes of this broken reality and depicts the carnage they live in beautifully. These five issues really fully realise a whole new world of DC Comics which I personally am tempted to dive further into (but I won’t for now because the plan is to read through Johns’ Justice League).
All-in-all, this is a solid comic. Not overly ambitious, but important nonetheless. I give it: