F That! Flashpoint and Fear Itself

I thought I’d review DC’s and Marvel’s summer event books side by side, as it were, every few issues to see how they compare. Warning: I will be spoiling plot points, so proceed with that in mind.

Flashpoint #1-2: I have been almost dreading this event book for months. I don’t care for the rebirth of Barry Allen as the Flash (Flash: Rebirth was yawn inspiring, as was the first six issues of the Flash monthly title, despite Geoff Johns’s involvement), and I don’t particularly care for Andy Kubert’s art. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the first issue. I like the art just fine, and the story balances itself well enough between Flash discovering that he isn’t in his world and Cyborg attempting to recruit Batman into his league in order to take down Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Issue one ends with the revelation that Batman is Thomas Wayne, not Bruce, which explains the brutal attitude that Batman demonstrated earlier in the issue. Issue 2 starts off with an Aquaman appearance, and he’s more brutal, ordering no survivors on Deathstroke’s ship. Most of this issue, however, focuses on Barry talking to Batman about how the world is different, and that he can make it right. Batman is convinced to not break Barry into pieces when he realizes that Barry might be able to change things so that Bruce will live again, not him. To do that, Barry needs his speed back, so he reconstructs the accident with the chemicals and lightning, and ends up a charred body on the Batcave floor.

One of the elements of this event so far that I like extremely well is Batman’s story. Issue one starts off with narration that is Batman’s, so you know that Barry affects him in a meaningful way, but I’m intrigued by this Batman’s psyche. We all know our Batman’s story–how he searches for vengeance because is parents were killed before him–but how would that grief and lust for revenge affect a parent whose only son was murdered? It makes perfect sense that this Batman kills and has zero tolerance for anything other than his mission (thus not joining Cyborg’s league). I hope we get to see more of this in the Batman tie-in, but after reading issue one, I don’t think I will (I’ll be posting about the tie-in books soon).

Fear Itself #1-3: A new force of darkness descends on the Marvel universe involving hammers of power, something called the Serpent, and it revolves around Odin. But the really interesting part of issue one is the fight that Thor gets into with his father, and it’s a doozy! Odin orders the Asgardians home, leaving Earth unprotected , and Thor is not happy about the decision. The All-Father mops the floor with Thor and shows himself to be such a prick doing it. As I noted earlier, it’s so strange to see such different depictions of this father/son relationship in two different books, so I’m curious if we get some sort of connection or resolution to this conflict. When I read this I was intrigued and looking forward to what came next. However, after the great beginning of this story, I was disappointed by the next two issues. Most of the pages are taken up by the hammers possessing various people, heroes and villains alike (and why is it heroes and villains? why not Joe Shmoe? though, the hammers do seem to be calling on those who already possess great power, so maybe there’s something to that, or maybe Marvel wanted to see the Hulk and Thing battle their fellow heroes with hammers…), and others reacting to their rampages. The only interesting bits in these two issues are the conflict between Thor and his father (which is what I really enjoyed from issue 1) and the apparent death of Bucky at the end of issue 3. We’ve all known that Steve Rogers would eventually retake the mantle (there’s a movie coming out, after all), so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Bucky’s (maybe) death would occur in Marvel’s summer event book.

This is the first Marvel event book in recent years that I’ve read that wasn’t written by Brian Michael Bendis, and while I love Bendis’s work, Matt Fraction does a decent job, but not much has really happened in these three issues (though I don’t blame Fraction necessarily–this may be Editorial’s doing). We do have four more to go, so I’m hoping the plot will start moving along. As for the art, I really like Stuart Immonen’s work.

How are you liking either of these event books?

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