If you happen to read this before you read "Flash" #12, no worries. That issue doesn't lead directly into this one as much as you would expect. Sure, it points the reader here, but if you happen to read this issue (or this review) first, nothing is going to be overly spoiled for you.
The first drops of the marketing and publishing flash flood that is "Flashpoint" hit the new comic racks this week. Everything before now was just a sprinkle. This first offering is a great deal of flash (little "F") and not very much Flash (Barry, Wally, Jay, or Bart, your choice). Johns puts a few key players on the board and doesn't do a great deal with them except have them posture at one another. Through that posturing, we are given the information that Cyborg is rallying troops to stave off a world-threatening battle between Aquaman and Wonder Woman.
Many of the characters themselves seem very similar to their "normal" counterparts. The Elseworlds vibe isn't fully soaked in. Batman is dark and brooding, Cyborg is technologically advanced, Captain Cold and Pied Piper are at odds. Nothing is exceptionally gasp-worthy. That said, a lot of the "newer" characters seem less impressive. Nothing I see with the Outsider convinces me that he's worthy of $2.99, let alone the full $8.97 his miniseries would run me. Much of the same can be said of the other characters presented: Citizen Cold, Abin Sur, or S!H!A!Z!A!M!
Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope do work well together, giving this book a look that is very reminiscent of Rags Morales' work without aping Morales. Kubert's style still shines through, but Hope's ink work makes it seem slightly more realistic. Alex Sinclair's colors fill the issue well, adding glitzy glow to Gotham City as well as helping cast each new character in a very specific light.
This issue shapes up to be an empty-calorie merchandising sandwich. The start of the issue is engaging and informative. Barry Allen is introduced to the reader and his history is set up. There are some surprises, but the flow gets interrupted just as it seems to start clicking. The end of the issue features a surprising revelation that leaves enough of an impact to pique my interest to come back for issue #2. The in-between, however, threatens to choke this story out with its exposition, character introduction, and tie-in push. It introduces a number of "new" or "re-imagined" characters and concepts, but none of them are deep enough or intriguing enough to stay in my brain much past this week, if they make it that long.
Yes, "Flashpoint" is set to have an historical amount of ancillary issues connected to it, but that doesn't mean that the main story should suffer. That certainly seems to be the case right now. This series offers hope, but all the "main" action surrounding any characters anyone finds intrigue in appears set to happen elsewhere. As event comics go, this one seems a little more like "War of the Gods" than "Crisis on Infinite Earths" to me.
All the same, it was neat to see Cyborg getting some time in the spotlight, even if nothing really develops from it. It's just a shame that an alternate reality had to be created for Cyborg to shine. Surely with the star power and talent they possess, Johns and Kubert could have found a way to craft an event around Cyborg and bring the character to prominence.
This is, however, the first issue of what will be, once complete, well over fifty (that is a low-end estimate) comics that tell the story of this new world. To judge the entire story on this initial step would be folly. To commit to the entire story based on what is given to us here would be insanity. I'm anticipating the second issue trends more towards what the beginning and end of this issue gave us. After all, as the father of three very active kids who is currently paying through the nose to gas up his car, there's just no way I can stand a chance to buy all fifty issues to complete this story. Hopefully the five main issues with select (based largely on creator involvement) other issues will be enough to give me a complete story.