Review: Flashpoint Beyond #0
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Colors: Trish Mulvihill
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Flashpoint Beyond #0: The world of Flashpoint returns! After sacrificing everything to help the Flash put the universe back together and save Bruce Wayne’s life, Thomas Wayne wakes up in a world he thought was no more. Forced to don the cowl once again, Batman prowls the streets of Gotham searching for answers to how this world still exists, but what he starts to uncover will send him hurtling around the globe. The hunt for the Clockwork Killer starts here!
The build-up to this summer’s Dark Crisis continues with Flashpoint Beyond #0. The Flashpoint Batman last appeared in Justice League Incarnate, where he had apparently been killed by Darkseid. However, Thomas Wayne is shocked to find himself in the Flashpoint Universe -especially since he had helped Barry Allen erase the Flashpoint timeline.
Geoff Johns returns to write this sequel to his story that set up the New 52 reboot. But it’s more than just a Flashpoint sequel. It also ties into the ongoing story that DC has been building to since Infinite Frontier – or perhaps since Doomsday Clock. Johns signals this by having Mime and Marionette return from that series for this issue’s opening scene.
The two villains guide the main DCU’s Batman in looking for an artifact in the headquarters of Rip Hunter’s Time Masters. The artifact turns out to be a snowglobe, but we aren’t told what its significance is. However, I suspect we will be finding out the answer to that question shortly. But how did the villains know where to find it?
DC has previously revealed hints about upcoming major events by giving us a peek at Rip Hunter’s blackboard. That blackboard makes a return appearance with some tantalizing clues about what lies ahead in the next few months. At the top of the board, we see “5G” crossed out and “Averted” written beside it. I think this is the first official mention of 5G. But it appears some damage was done to reality. The text tells us, “History irrevocably damaged. Must travel beyond Omniverse”. I suspect this directly hints at the events of Dark Crisis itself.
There are also some mentions of referring to the “Fall of the Justice League” in Justice League #75, as well as a reference to the Shadow War crossover between Batman, Robin, and Deathstroke Inc. But particularly intriguing is this snippet “His daughter will rejoin Justice Society to save it”. Whose daughter? Maybe Alan Scott’s daughter Jade? And I don’t know what to make of “Beware: He’ll find his son. Do not interfere”, but it sounds interesting.
However, one item is particularly significant. The board says, “Thomas Wayne will die”. Bruce makes a deliberate point of erasing this sentence, signaling his intention to prevent that death. Johns’ story has an interesting duality. Thomas tries to save his son, attempting to erase the timeline in which Bruce died. Meanwhile, Bruce is enacting a plan to save Thomas. But from what, exactly? And how? Bruce seems to have a plan, but we’ll have to wait to see that plan play out.
Thomas’ plan involves Barry Allen. However, this is Barry of the Flashpoint timeline, not The Flash. This presents a major problem that Thomas needs to overcome. That plan hits a major roadblock that I won’t spoil here, but it does come as quite a surprise.
We see Barry investigating a murder committed by a serial killer called the Clockwork Killer. It seems that this murderer will play an important role in this series. This is evident when you look at his victims and what they have in common. Readers familiar with DC history will spot that all of them are time travelers in the main DCU: Jeffery Smith of the Time Masters, David Clinton (Chronos), and Abra Kadabra. Clearly, somebody is up to something that they don’t want any time travelers to interfere with.
Besides those references, there are some nice little DC history Easter Eggs. I love that Barry Allen’s address is listed in the phonebook as 1956 Showcase Drive Apt #4″, referring of course to Barry’s debut in Showcase #4 in 1956. Also, we see Barry talking with a woman named Fiona. Longtime readers may recognize her as Barry’s onetime fiancée Fiona Webb.
Another especially interesting reference is the brief appearance of Roger Hayden, a.k.a. the Psycho-Pirate. This is particularly notable, considering he is the only person in the DCU who retains his memories through DC’s various reboots. He clearly knows reality has changed again in light of his insistence that “Everything is upside down again.,, and Bruce is supposed to be the Batman”.
In an inspired move, the original artistic team from the Flashpoint Batman: Knight of Vengeance tie-in to Flashpoint for this sequel. Eduardo Risso’s superb artwork and Trish Mulvihill’s splendid colors make sure Flashpoint Beyond has the same feel as that tie-in miniseries. I highly recommend any readers who didn’t read Knight of Vengeance to check it out. This shouldn’t be difficult, as DC brought out an affordable reprint collection just last week.
Unfortunately, some readers might be rather lost if they are picking up this story without reading the titles that led up to it. Those readers will need to do a bit of homework first. Either by finding and reading back issues/collections, or finding online summaries. The titles, in particular, that would be most beneficial to catch up on are Flashpoint, Flashpoint Batman: Knight of Vengeance, Infinite Frontier, and Justice League Incarnate. I don’t believe catching up on Doomsday Clock is absolutely necessary – but it is worth reading in its own right.
It’s unfortunate that readers can’t just jump into the story unprepared, but that is an unavoidable consequence of spending a long time preparing an intricate story. However, I suspect that this preparation will prove worth it.
This opening issue is labeled as Flashpoint Beyond #0, rather than #1, marking it as a prelude to the actual story. If this is just the prelude, then the main event will surely be something amazing. Of course, this is to be expected from a series written by Geoff Johns with the assistance of Tim Sheridan and Jeremy Adams. With talent like that, this series has a lot going for it.