With most “Flashpoint” series, you can easily figure out what the purpose of the comic is. Some are adding to the main storyline; others are establishing what other characters have been turned into within the new timeline; one of them is even reviving an old character for his own post-“Flashpoint” ongoing series.
And then there’s “Flashpoint: The Outsider.”
Barring a rather large swerve in the final issue next month, it’s not starring an existing character. It’s also showing no sign of being part of the main “Flashpoint” mini-series. Instead, it’s following a new character, Michael Desai, throughout his life on the Indian subcontinent and surrounding nations. But beyond that? I’m not sure anyone but James Robinson and Javi Fernandez know where it’s going.
On the one hand, that’s not such a bad thing. A bit of mystery is always good, after all. But short of an upcoming “The Outsider” comic later this year, or perhaps his re-appearance in the main DC Universe, it’s still up in the air on why this comic is being published. Maybe Robinson just wanted to write a comic about a rather unrepentant villain? In many ways Michael Desai feels like a spiritual heir to some interpretations of Lex Luthor, with a ruthless and relentless pursuit of his goals and massive resources at his fingertips. I’m not entirely sure why we’re supposed to care about Desai, though; he’s not a bad character, but he’s also still a little lacking in a personality hook to make you want to eagerly follow from issue to issue.
Fernandez’s art is blocky and thick-lined, and in some ways reminds me a lot of early Howard Chaykin comics. I like that he draws Indian people in a variety of faces and forms, and on the whole there’s a certain strength to his art. That’s especially true on the scene set on top of a train speeding through Siberia; the two opponents look tough and unyielding, and it sets the stage well for Robinson’s script.
“Flashpoint: The Outsider” is in many ways a solid middle of the road comic. It’s not hitting any highs, but not sinking to any lows, either. And with there currently being no real hook on the comic’s existence? Well, it makes me think that unless Desai shows up again down the road, “Flashpoint: The Outsider” will be quickly forgotten. Not because of a lack of quality, but rather the lack of something to make it stand out.