Review: FLASHPOINT BEYOND #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Colours: Romulo Fajardo Jr., Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Flashpoint Beyond #2: The DC event of 2022 continues! As Thomas Wayne investigates the continuing mystery of the Clockwork Killer, another mystery erupts when a strange inmate within Arkham claims that Bruce Wayne is the only Batman that should exist. And Thomas’s world is again turned upside down when a new, twisted version of an iconic Batman villain is born.
After the events of last issue, in Flashpoint Beyond #2, Thomas Wayne comes to the realization that he was set after Aquaman as a distraction. He now focuses his attention on the unknown villain that the press refers to as the Clockwork Killer. Thomas notices something that sharp-eyed readers may have already noticed. his victims are all people who were time travellers in the DCU’s proper timeline. Along the victims mentioned in issue #0, we learn that he’s also killed Captain Atom, Waverider, and Epoch. And it stands to reason that he is behind the murder of Barry Allen as well.
As Thomas ponders, “There are time-traveling champions from the future that would have made their presence know if they still existed: Legionnaires. The robotic Hourman, Booster Gold. Yet there’s no sign of a savior from tomorrow. That’s how I know I’m alone in my fight to save my son and the world”. As the only character who has travelled outside of the Flashpoint timeline, Thomas is the only one who realizes that the timeline has been altered.
But he’s wrong about being alone, as it seems Bruce appears to be working on the same problem from the familiar DCU timeline. Or is he the cause of it. The Time Master Corky Baxter makes it clear that Bruce is messing with dangerous forces. Could Bruce’s plan be what caused the re-emergence of the Flashpoint timeline?
I think the snow globe is a key clue to what’s going on. It seems to metaphorically represent the Flashpoint reality. Corky practically spells this out: “…that snowman daddy is like your dad. He can see things outside the glass. He knows there’s another world out there. But he can’t ever get to it”. But Bruce responds that it’s safe. Inside the globe, the snowman never melts. Could it be that Bruce recreated the Flashpoint in a pocket universe just to keep Thomas Wayne alive and safe? And if so, is it a haven or a prison for Thomas?
And the globe has a literal significance to the story as well. Corky states that the snow globe is “drenched in tachyons and stuff” and that it and Janey Slater’s watch have been stabilizing each other. But he also warns , “the owner of that snow globe is going to be drawn to it. And if he shows u, boy, are you going to be sorry about this whole darn thing”. Who could that be. I do have a wild guess about that. One really powerful time-based villain that hasn’t been mentioned yet: the Time Trapper.
We also see the return of the Flashpoint Superman. It seems that he and Thomas Wayne have a clash of ideologies. As Thomas has set himself the task of ending the Flashpoint timeline in favour of restoring the proper timeline, he has concluded that any events taking place in his timeline are meaningless – nothing matters. But Superman flatly denies this, stating, “I heard you. You’re wrong. Everything matters”. It will be interesting to see if this difference of opinion leads to an inevitable battle. Or perhaps they will be able to find some common ground and work together.
It seems that Thomas took the time to learn a lot about the main DCU during his time there and with Justice League Incarnate. He recognizes the Clockwork Killer’s victims as time-travellers, despite the fact that some of them are rather obscure characters. He knows about the Legion, Booster Gold, and Hourman. So, he’s definitely made a thorough study of the history and future of the main DCU timeline. And that knowledge will likely prove crucial for the task he’s set for himself.
I love that the nods to DC history that are peppered through the story. I was quite amused when I realized that the muggers Batman encounters are actually the Flashpoint counterparts of the Flash’s Rogues Gallery: Captain Boomerang, Heat Wave, Rainbow Raider, and the Top.
I’m also curious as to where the subplot involving Dexter Dent is going. It seems to me that perhaps he may become Robin to Thomas’ Batman. Or perhaps that is a bit of misdirection. This issue does make it clear that his mother, Gilda Dent, is going to be the Flashpoint version of Two-Face. We see her damage one side of her face in a fit of madness. And the poker chip from Wayne Casino that Thomas gives her is scratched up on one side. I do find it interesting that it’s Harvey Dent’s wife that takes on the identity of Two-Face, especially considering that Thomas Wayne’s wife Martha became the Joker. Why is it that the women in Thomas’ life end up as villains?
What I find most fascinating about this story is how it is running parallel with Dark Crisis, seemingly unrelated. DC has indicated that the two stories will dovetail into each other as they near their conclusions. But it’s unclear at this early point how they connect. However, it seems that Thomas’ presence in Infinite Crisis and Justice League Incarnate was preparing him for this story, while the rest of the JLI were heading into Dark Crisis. It’s intriguing to see the overarching story broken into two tracks like this.
Xermanico’s art on Thomas’ story is superb, as is Mikel Janin’s on Bruce’s side of the story. Having a different art team for the Flashpoint reality and the main DCU was a brilliant idea. It makes a clear distinction between the two timelines. And while there is a nice juxtaposition between two sections, it’s not a jarring difference.
Time travel and alternate timelines appear to be a central concept in this series, which may be off-putting to some readers. However, it doesn’t seem to be too difficult to follow so far. So, even if you tend to avoid such stories, it’s well worth giving it a look.
With Flashpoint Beyond #2, the story is picking up steam. While it’s not clear yet where Johns’, Adams, and Sheridan’s story is headed, it’s building to something big. With this many of DC’s hottest creators on board, this story is going to be a wild ride.