Flashpoint 2 (of 5);
Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance 1 (of 3): The newly altered universe Barry Allen finds himself in is very much different. Much of Europe is under water, flooded by Atlantis under its ruler, Aquaman. And England is now New Themyscira after being attacked by Wonder Woman and the Amazons. But probably the biggest reveal of the first issue of the main series is that instead of Bruce Wayne seeing his parents killed and eventually becoming Batman, it was Bruce and his mother who were killed and his father, Thomas Wayne, who becomes Batman -- but this Batman is not out for justice, but revenge. In Flashpoint #2, Barry Allen tries to persuade Batman to help him re-create the accident that gave Barry his super-speed, allowing the Flash to find a way to restore history and get the world back to where it was. The Batman tie-in miniseries focuses on the changes in Gotham City: Thomas Wayne is a casino magnate and has privatized the Gotham police force, but while many of the city's worst fiends are dead (thanks to Batman), the Joker is still around, and has kidnapped the twins of Judge Harvey Dent. Not that all of this will matter in a few months...
Superboy 8: The strange mysteries that have been building in Smallville since the start of this series -- the "broken silo," Psionic Lad, Lori Luthor -- are all coming to a head in part one of "Rise of the Hollow Men." Not that it will...
...okay, you get the idea. What I was hinting at in my last comic book post is the news that came out of DC Comics last week. Essentially, "Flashpoint" is serving as the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" of today: when it's over,
DC is re-booting everything. Starting in September, every ongoing series will be re-numbered, starting with #1, and characters will be revamped (including some costume changes), "introducing stories that are grounded in each character's specific legend but also reflect today's real-world themes and events."
"We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line," added co-publisher Dan DiDio. "This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience."
updates included Batman-specific news: Bruce Wayne is back to being the one and only Batman (although "Batman, Inc." will be revived in early 2012), with his son Damian acting as Robin. Dick Grayson goes back to being Nightwing. A series starring a new character, Batwing, is said to be historic because the character is black.
Apparently there's no more Gotham City Sirens (one less book for me) but Catwoman will again star in her own book. The long-delayed Batwoman ongoing series (one more book for me) is still happening, although I wonder how her back story changes based on this new direction -- for example, she had some dealings with Dick Grayson as Nightwing and as Batman, and just recently (in Batman, Inc.) worked with Bruce Wayne Batman for the first time. How much of this still exists?
The biggest Bat-news is a new Batgirl series, with Barbara Gordon taking up the costume again. Here DC is reversing one of its most famous stories. In "Batman: The Killing Joke" the Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and shoots his daughter Barbara, paralyzing her. Being in a wheelchair obviously meant she could never again become Batgirl, but she used her intelligence and computer skills to become Oracle, providing key information (and the occasional computer hacking) to those fighting the war on crime and leading her own group of operatives, the Birds of Prey. Now they're throwing all of that out the window, apparently, just because no other Batgirl has ever been as popular as Barbara Gordon.
All of this concerns me because of how it may affect the DC books I'm most interested in. How will Superman's story change this time? (Remember, it's changed often over the years, even recently with miniseries such as "Birthright" and "Secret Origin.") Will he still be married to Lois Lane? (I, for one, don't want Superman back in the dating pool.) Will there still be a Superboy, and will he still be a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, and will he still be living with Ma Kent and Krypto in Smallville? For that matter, what of Lex? Still a criminal mastermind/businessman or just a criminal? And speaking of Smallville, will Pa Kent be alive again? What about Supergirl? What about other supporting characters? What about other events? Did Superman still die (albeit temporarily) in his first furious battle with Doomsday?
There have been plenty of revamps and continuity changes over the years, even without drastic events like Flashpoint. There's still always been the story at the core, though, that has allowed Superman and other characters to endure and stay popular over the years. I'm worried about how much they're going to change, and how much I'll like it. I can't help but think that I might be buying fewer comics come the fall. (Hell, what will I do if they ever re-boot Simpsons continuity...oh, who are we kidding? The most drastic thing they've ever done on TV that stuck was to kill Maude Flanders.)
And while I know that books that have the magic "#1" label seem to sell better, I think re-numbering their two longest-running (in terms is issue numbers) books -- Action Comics (ending at issue 904 in August) and Detective Comics (issue 881) just so they can have "first issue" on the cover is such a terrible idea. It's like throwing away history.