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Flashpoint (Miniseries)
Written by Pat McGreal
Pencils by Norm Breyfogle
Review by David R. Black

FlashpointFlashpoint is a three issue, Elseworlds miniseries that asks the question; “What if the Flash (Barry Allen) happened to be paralyzed from the neck down?” Sounds like an interesting plot device, doesn’t it? Sure does, but even the most interesting plot device will fall flat on its face without a main plot. But before moving on with this, here’s a little background information/synopsis about the series.

    In this Elseworlds reality, Barry debuts as the Flash in 1956, and in addition to battling his traditional rogues gallery of villains, he soon begins secretly working for the US government. Single-handedly, Barry turns the Bay of Pigs fiasco into a success, stops the Vietnam War before it begins, and saves President Kennedy from being assassinated. I really thought this part of the series, part of the first issue, was well done. If the Flash weren’t a fictional character, he probably could have done those things.

    In saving Kennedy however, Barry doesn’t see one of the bullets, and it shatters his spine, leaving him paralyzed. Fast forward to the present day, and Barry is a world renowned particle physicist whose research has propelled Earth’s technology level to science fiction-like proportions. Cloning, deep space probes, manned missions to Mars, and transporters are all a reality.

    Not only does McGreal provide an excellent background story, but he writes Barry and his traditional supporting cast well (Wally West, Iris Allen, Vandal Savage, Ralph Dibny, the Martian Manhunter, etc.). In accomplishing so much, Barry seems to have taken his paralysis in stride, but he’s haunted by not being able to save himself. He takes out his frustrations on Iris, which rings true to behaviors in real life. Why is it that we dump our negative feelings on our closest friends and loved ones yet would never think of doing so to co-workers or passing acquaintances? I suppose that like Barry, we all need to play the role of superhero and pretend nothing ever bothers us. Give writer McGreal an A+ for realistic characterization.

    Now for the main plot. Quite frankly, it has something to do with something to do with a Martian device with links to the Speed Force that has the capability of destroying the Earth, but I’m not too sure. The plot feels like a jigsaw puzzle of too many pieces that don’t fit well together. We’ve got Vandal Savage stealing the device, the Martian Manhunter and Ralph Dibny trying to retrieve it, a rampaging Wally West clone masquerading as the Flash, Barry having dreams about a JLA that doesn’t exist in this reality, and a few other sub-plots as well. McGreal tries to bring together all the plot threads by the series’ end, but it just doesn’t work for me. The conclusion feels forced, contrived, and leaves too many unanswered questions. And I know that comics are fiction, but the ending is too unrealistic for my tastes.

    OK, now that I’ve ravaged the series, I’ll mention a few of the highlights. One of them is Breyfogle’s art. I’m not familiar with his art, but I liked what I saw here. His figures are crisp and well-defined, which is perfect for a sci-fi, sliver age feel series like this. Especially well done are his designs of Barry’s wheelchair, the Martian Manhunter’s redesigned costume, and the scene in Dibny’s house on pages two and three of the second issue. The covers, done by Stuart Immonen and Jose Marzan, Jr. are nice, but they have little to do with the story inside.

One final thought: Why was this series priced at $2.95 an issue? It’s the standard 22 pages long and doesn’t use a better quality paper stock. My only guess is that the extra cost is due to the Elseworlds label, but regardless, the price should have been $2.50 or possibly $1.99.

The bottom line is that a confusing plot, an unrealistic ending, and overpricing overshadow the series’ good points. Read the book if you’re a die-hard Barry fan, but skip it otherwise. I rate Flashpoint:

5 out of 10

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David R. Black is Fanzing.com's magazine editor and chief archivist. A big fan of "The Warlord," he has a cat named Shakira and is looking for a girlfriend named Tara....

 
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