By: Adam Basciano
The main Flashpoint series’ central focus is on The Flash and his story in this changed universe. Sure, the other character’s make this universe whole, but their not going to get the majority of the face time in Flashpoint. This book, like most number one’s is a setup issue, but because of the short length of this mini series moves along brusquely. Thomas Wayne is in the middle of a required psychiatric evaluation in order to guarantee insurance for himself and his thriving business, Wayne Casino’s. Now that your all humming Elvis’ Viva Las Vegas in your heads, you’ll be shocked to know that Mr. Wayne is none to pleased about having to endure this session. So, he stone walls the young psychiatrist, and berates her until she declares him sane. Wayne quickly discusses business with his right hand man Oswald Cobblepot. So, the Penguin goes from running Iceberg Lounge (a front for organized crime), to running the day-to-day operations of a casino for someone else. Is that a step up or down in life? Either way, he still looks like the ultimate sleeezebag! Thomas then meets up with Jim Gordon, as they pay a visit two Judge Dent. It is here, we learn that The Joker has escaped Arkham and kidnapped Dent’s twin children. ( insert shameless Two-Face nod here) After promising the safe return of the children, T – Wayne and his top cop discuss another series of crimes The disappearance of some of Gotham’s most prominent residents. For Gotham that list includes drunks, junkies, and homeless folk. Batman is on the case and takes to the sewer, where he takes on a not so jolly green giant, who I assume is Killer Croc. The issue ends with thunder, lightening, an undisclosed location, and The Joker planning something sinister to lure Batman out, while keeping an eye on the captive twins of Harvey Dent.
If change is the mantra of Flashpoint, this tie in series definitely delivers the goods. Thomas Wayne is very far removed from his son, the mainstream continuity Batman. That’s evident right from the first few pages. Where Bruce would put on that billionaire playboy facade when out in public, Thomas seems entrenched in Batman mode 24/7. Then when he’s actually running around as Batman, he’s far more violent than the Batman we’re used to. This Batman stabs Killer crock in the head and gouges out his eye. When reading this, I kept getting a “The Dark Knight Returns” vibe from Batman. Thomas Wayne’s Batman is a throwback to that version of the character for me. Other notable changes include the death of several of Batman’s rogues, including Hush, Scarecrow, and Poison Ivy. Gotham City’s Police Department is privatized and owned by Thomas Wayne. So where Batman was once a vigilante, he is now the law! That brings up another big change. In regular continuity it was unclear if Jim Gordon knew Batman’s identity. In the FU, (no I didn’t just tell you off, that stands for Flashpoint Universe) Gordon definitely knows the secret. Then there’s The Joker. Just when I thought The Joker couldn’t get any more disturbing, the writers throw kids into the mix of his crimes. Given the seriousness of crimes involving children in the real world, I’m surprised Brian Azzarello used it in the story. It definitely created a feeling of uneasiness when I flipped to the last page.
The art in this book was a head scratcher for me. It has that gritty, noir tone that is pitch perfect for Batman. One page makes a great use of shadows and light. It reminded me so much of how Tim Burton’s Batman looked in the 1989 film. Eduardo Risso was hitting all the right notes. Then I saw Killer Croc, at least I think that’s who he was. He’s so indistinguishable that he looks like any random sewer dwelling monster. To be honest, he looks like a giant humanoid turd, which may be a metaphor for the “Batman” comic book over the last few months. As for Thomas Wayne, who looks nothing like Thomas Wayne, but instead looks like some weird amalgamation of Marlon Brando in “The Godfather”, and O.J. Simpson. While this book doesn’t have the wow factor of Flashpoint #1, it does further immerse you into this altered universe. And while it’s missing that jaw dropping ending of the main series’ opening salvo, the setup certainly leaves room for that in subsequent issues.
Overall Grade: 7/10