In general, I’m a big fan of alternate reality stories. When done well they can provide a fascinating glimpse at a path not taken for a character that I love. Good alternate reality stories manage to tell compelling stories that nicely reveal different aspects of a character as a natural consequence, rather than those reveals feeling like the entire point of the story. The last page reveal of “Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons” #2 lands this story solidly in the latter category. The entire issue feels like it was just about revealing Starfire as a “villain” and an Amazon partly responsible for the death of Dick Grayson’s family. That’s not nearly enough to hang a story on, at least not as executed here.
There’s not a lot to hold onto in this issue as it mostly treads water the same way that its characters do. The Amazons attack the circus in an attempt to get the fabled “helm of Nabu,” and chaos ensues. In the chaos, Dick’s parents are dispatched in relatively short order, his mother on page four and his father by the end of the issue. They’re seemingly killed to give Dick some motivation to realize it’s been wrong to “hide out” from the war and believe that it doesn’t affect them. Though not a revolutionary concept, it is the only tangible insight worth holding onto in the book. More directly the Graysons’ deaths are used as a device to get Deadman to stay by Dick’s side which, given his jerkiness in both this issue and the last, doesn’t exactly seem like a great prize. Starfire is brought in on the last page as an Amazon and someone that is going to try to kill Dick Grayson and company in order to retrieve the helm.
The writing by J.T. Krul is serviceable, although the “Nooooo!” from Dick when his father is felled is cringe inducing. Unfortunately, even though Krul tries to do the best he can with what he’s been given, like most of these Flashpoint books you get the feeling that the writer’s hands are well tied. They seem to have either not enough plot, as evidenced here, or way too much (as evidenced in “Wonder Woman and the Furies”) and the result is a confusing story that feels a bit haphazard. As a reader, knowing what’s to come in September’s relaunch has made it more difficult than ever to care about what’s happening in these books. If they were exceptional reads, that might make the pointlessness easier to take, but so far, this book at least is treading right around mediocre.
The art by Fabrizio Fiorentino and Alejandro Giraldo is pretty, overall, and mostly works with some frustrating exceptions, primarily in the action sequences. There’s a real lack of clarity in several key sequences such as Mary Grayson’s death scene. As a result, a moment that should be moving and horrible is instead just confusing, which blunts the power the scene should have. Odd storytelling choices are made throughout and some of the violence, like the scene with King Shark, seems unnecessarily gratuitous.
With brilliant Cliff Chiang covers, and characters Dick Grayson and Deadman starring, I had high hopes for “Flashpoint: Deadman & The Flying Grayson’s” but there’s not much here to hold onto and the result is an unsatisfying mish-mash.