FLASHPOINT BEYOND #0/ Script by GEOFF JOHNS/ Art by EDUARDO RISSO/ Colors by TRISH MULVIHILL/ Letters by ROB LEIGH/ Published by DC COMICS
Thomas Wayne had expected oblivion when he helped Barry Allen to unmake his reality – the divergent timeline known as Flashpoint. Yet somehow, death didn’t come. And Thomas Wayne continued to live, fighting wars across reality and having the chance to meet the son that became a better man (and better Batman) than he could have ever dreamed.
Now, Thomas Wayne is trapped in a world much like his own, after a confrontation with Darkseid, but everything is even worse than before when a war between Atlantis and the Amazons threatened to destroy everything. The only hope may be for Barry Allen to once again go into the past and put right what once went wrong. There’s just one problem – the Barry Allen of this world is a powerless, friendless schmuck and not the Fastest Man Alive.
I will say this for Geoff Johns as a writer; his work encourages one to become well read. Because the only hope in Heaven or Hell anyone has of understanding the story of Flashpoint Beyond #0 requires one to have read Watchmen, Flashpoint and Doomsday Clock. There’s also passing references to Thomas Wayne’s appearances in various Batman titles and Infinite Frontier, as well as a suggestion he’s fallen victim to the Omega Sanction, which requires some working knowledge of Darkseid and his mythos.
To Johns’ credit, the story here does flow well despite the heavy continuity and he does a fair job of summarizing the most important parts of Flashpoint for those who haven’t read it. The problem is that there are so many bits and pieces in this opening issue (including a sequence of Batman raiding one of Rip Hunter’s old hideouts with Mime and Marionette from Doomsday Clock) that the main story is unwieldly. This leaves the mysteries of the issue confusing the readers rather than enticing them to read on. I suspect, much like Doomsday Clock, this will read far better in a single volume than as monthly comic.
The artwork is far stronger by comparison. Eduardo Risso is a fine artist, who previously worked with Thomas Wayne in the Flashpoint: Knight of Vengeance. He perfectly captures this Dark Knight’s torment and desperation as he seeks to figure out why he is still alive and the world in which he lived has somehow become even worse. The colors by Trish Mulvill are evocative and the lettering by Rob Leigh crisp, adding to the ennui of doom that dominates the issue.
With Dark Crisis approaching, it is hard to say what effect (if any) Flashpoint Beyond might have upon the DC Universe. The cruel irony is that for all its dependence on earlier stories, it is best considered on its own terms. Within that vacuum. it is a passable read. Time will tell if it might be something more.