With almost all of “Flashpoint” wrapped up (with just next week’s “Flashpoint” #5 conclusion still out there), I think it’s safe to say that one of the more successful “Flashpoint” stories was “Flashpoint: Project Superman.” It’s a sad little story, but it’s simultaneously creepy, a mixture of superhero and horror.
With this issue, “Flashpoint: Project Superman” has intersected with “Flashpoint” itself; the heroes have come to find Superman, Lois Lane is on New Themyscira, and the final battle between the Amazons and Atlanteans is raging. In its own right, all would be less than good, but Lowell Francis and Scott Snyder bring Sinclair back out of the Phantom Zone in the issue’s opening pages; like Pandora’s Box, once open it’s impossible to close.
Francis’ script completes the transformation of Sinclair from desperate hero to insane monster. His continual shift away from humanity, coupled with the isolation of years in the Phantom Zone, has been documented throughout this mini-series. As a result, when we see him rage across the skies looking for Kal-El and Lois, it doesn’t matter that this was once a good soldier trying to help his country. Francis has made that shift make sense, and that anger burning across the page isn’t out of the blue.
I was also (pleasantly) surprised to see several characters have their stories wrapped up here beyond Sinclair. It makes “Flashpoint: Project Superman” feel more like its own entity, not a story fragment that will stay incomplete. Even though Francis and Snyder can’t close everything off, they’re able to tie off enough loose ends that I felt like I had a satisfying end.
Gene Ha’s gawky Kal-El steals every scene he’s in thanks to his slightly oversized head and big, doe-like eyes. Watching him flail his way through a storm as he flies across the Atlantic is a great progression of panels; we see his panic, his hesitation, and eventually his learning process as he flies through the lightning and rain. And throughout it all, his posture is unlike that of a normal superhero; it’s not streamlined or heroic, but like a person who’s walked his entire life not understanding how to realign his body for flight. Look in comparison to Sinclair, who as Subject Zero muscles his way through the sky, blasting a path around him with confidence and determination. It’s two different artistic takes on the same idea, and Ha’s skills make them instantly stand apart from one another. And that’s just one small example of Ha’s careful thought and execution in the art for “Flashpoint: Project Superman.” From the battered and ruined buildings of London, to the infrastructure underneath a bridge’s pavement when an explosion hits, Ha has thought every scene through carefully, and brings it to careful, beautiful life. Even something as simple as the jagged energy of the panel borders for Subject Zero’s appearances stands out, thanks to Ha.
“Flashpoint: Project Superman” is definitely a comic from which you’ll get your money’s worth. Francis, Snyder, and Ha have created a curious little bubble of world within the greater “Flashpoint” universe. It ties into other titles, but at the same time works well on its own. While “Flashpoint: Knight of Vengeance” may have been the top-ranking “Flashpoint” story these past few months, “Flashpoint: Project Superman” is my vote for an easy second place. Nicely done from all parties involved.