Welcome to week three of Flashpoint! This week we’re checking out The World of Flashpoint Featuring – Batman. Collected in this graphic novel are Batman: Knight Of Vengeance #1-3, Deadman And The Flying Graysons #1- 3, Deathstroke And The Curse Of The Ravager #1-3 and Secret Seven #1-3.
Dakster is going to take the new reader’s point of view, as the revamp of DC to the new 52 started with these stories. Corrina, a long-time comic reader, has now seen no less than four of these revamps and has a more jaundiced comic eye about it all. Warning: there be spoilers below!
Of all the stories in the book, my favorites are the Batman (written by Brian Azzarello and art by Eduardo Risso) and Dick Grayson (written by J.T. Krul, art by Mikel Janin) stories . We’ve already seen that this universe is nothing like what we are used to, so be prepared for things to be a lot different.
In this universe, Bruce was killed instead of his parents. The death of their son has driven both Thomas and Martha into madness on opposite sides of the extreme. Thomas, Bruce’s father, takes on the Batman persona, with a much darker sense of justice than his son. I can see a lot of Bruce in Thomas (well…except the killing bad guys part of him). His mother, well…let’s just say she goes to the opposite edge of the madness spectrum. I knew that along with a new Batman that there would have to be a new face of madness behind the Joker’s mask, as well. I just didn’t expect it to be Martha Wayne!
What really shocked me about Martha was the crimes she was committing in Gotham. After losing her own son, I wondered: how was Martha capable of taking and killing someone else’s children? That part didn’t make much sense to me. We also hear Thomas talk to Martha about the alternate timeline and how, in that world, Bruce lived. Martha’s response to the news that Bruce grew up and became Batman was kind of what I would have expected, though.
The change from Bruce to Thomas Wayne struck me as uninteresting, though I know some comic readers really loved it. But unlike Bruce, Thomas was a doctor and would come at this from a different mindset. It’s possible he might be driven over the edge by the failure to protect his son but in the very same ways? Batman is very much a child’s expression of justice, a costume to go after bad guys. An adult would go about avenging his son in a largely different way.
What would have been fascinating to me is if Martha Wayne had turned out to be a version of the Batman. We’ve seen Martha so little in any Batman backstories, save in the forgotten and under-valued Batman Family mini-series by John Francis Moore. Martha also gets hardly any screen time in Batman Begins and yet it’s her family who is supposed to be part of the high society that Bruce moves in as an adult.
And Martha going crazy to become the Joker? It struck me as even more unimaginative and, worse, somewhat of a violation of who the Joker is, at the core. He’s a force for chaos, driven by a number of different demons, none of which are fathomable in the end. This is the version we see in the movie The Dark Knight, and this is the version we see over and over. Of course, there’s also the suggestion that “one bad day” could create the Joker but he’s far better as a mystery than he is revealed as someone with a specific origin.
I’m also a bit frustrated with the “bitches be crazy” level of this, especially after a decision to make Tim Drake’s stepmother do exactly the same thing after the events of Identity Crisis some years back. (That book also featured a similar “crazy” woman at the center of the mystery.)
I’m wondering: what were the writers thinking? Were they going for shock value? Did they really think that if Bruce died, that was the path his mother would have chosen? Either way, her dialogue with Thomas towards the end of the issue showed me that the real Martha was still in there somewhere…hidden beneath the psychopath.
I wish that this storyline lasted more than just three issues. I thought that this was an interesting interpretation of Gotham. I’d also like to learn more about Selena Kyle and the circumstances that turned her into Oracle.
I agree, this particular Gotham was well drawn. As always, I wish for more Jim Gordon. But that’s probably just me, the world’s biggest Jim Gordon fan. ::looks at several Jim Gordon DC Direct figures on her desk::
Dick Grayson’s story confused me a little because I’m not familiar with all the other players. I recognize Deadman as a member of Justice League Dark and the Helm of Nabu as Dr. Fate’s helmet. Peter is a member of the Secret Six and Dick Grayson, well…he’s my favorite Robin in the Batman universe.
Coming at this as a long-time reader, I loved the idea of an alternate look at Dick Grayson, particularly with his parents alive, and I always love Haley’s Circus. The covers of this mini-series were top notch, modeled after old circus posters. And I’ve been reading about Deadman and Boston Brand for many years, too, back in the days Jim Aparo drew him so often.
In other words, I was psyched to read this except…well, the only place they went with this story was tragedy, yet again. I know this is not supposed to be a great alternate world but I grew tired of every single hero needing tragedy in his background to be a hero. Dick Grayson is one of those guys who’s certain to be good whether he loses his parents or not. And, yet again, we have this:
Which basically says it all about what most drives me crazy about Flashpoint. Either women are crazy (see Joker above) or not only are they dead and not only are they dead as part of the hero’s story, but they’re also dead and sexualized. Nice to see after falling from a trapeze that Ms. Grayson’s boobs are still nicely defined. (In fairness, I have to note that John Grayson’s story doesn’t end well either.)
I’m not sure what role in Flashpoint the other mini-series that were side stories to the main event have, but I’d recommend The Ravengers story (written by Jimmy Palmiotti and art by Joe Bennett) if you’re a fan of pirate superhero stories. The Secret Seven deals with the Enchantress, and considering her key role in the final battle in Flashpoint, I wouldn’t skip it. If you’ve read Sword of Sorcery, you’ll recognize Amy.
I’m guessing that if you are more familiar with these characters, their stories will mean something entirely different. For a newbie like me, they were fun stories to read.
In general, this event covered little new ground for me and with the endings pre-ordained to be tragic, even some of the alterations to the time stream didn’t entertain me. But, then, I still consider Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez to be the gold standard for mega-events.
See you next week when I look at Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint — Wonder Woman. Trust me. You won’t want to miss this one! (Psst…especially since Corrina has a lot to say about the Amazons in this one. Let’s just say if the “DC Something Stupid Today” meter had been going when this was published, this would have been part of it.)