In a world that shouldn’t exist, Batman Thomas Wayne has a mystery to solve. Did Aquaman have Barry Allen murdered so he couldn’t gain the powers of the Flash and change the world, returning the Flashpoint reality to the one Thomas Wayne never knew? One in which he and wife Martha, not son Bruce, died at the hands of Joe Chill. One in which Bruce became a compassionate Batman, instead of Thomas as a cruel, vengeful figure of the night. One that isn’t like this…
The United Kingdom under Atlantean rule, under water, surrounded by monsters, an example of what Aquaman will do to the world if leaders don’t agree to his tyrannical demands.
In a dungeon, Aquaman’s prisoner Diana, princess of Themicyra, waits.
And at Wayne Manor, Thomas Wayne’s most trusted associate, Oswald Cobblepot, tries his hand at babysitting, with his charge being Dexter, son of slain Gotham DA Harvey Dent.
And there’s more… we get to see who might be behind the return of the Flashpoint universe and, really, it’s something I should have seen coming. Still, there’s so much going on, so many moving parts, that distraction enables a nice surprise.
Talking of moving parts, timepieces are falling 11 minutes behind, and the subtitle for this series is ‘The Clockwork Killer’. What could it mean? We know there’s some connection to the world of Watchmen, but just what that is lies in future issues.
Flashpoint creator Geoff Johns is joined by co-writers Jeremy Adams and Tim Sheridan and I can’t see the join. The invention and intensity is consistent throughout this extra-sized issue as Darkest Knight Thomas Wayne gets to seem more heroic by dint of being set beside the truly hideous Arthur and Diana. The man we know as the Penguin seems a little kinder, while new character Dexter Dent – who asked for those shooting lessons – looks set to be a wild card. The plot beats are commendably clear, the dialogue sparkles, and for anyone new to Flashpont, or in need of a reminder, there’s a handy recap page homaging Showcase #4.
Aside from a sharp couple of pages at the end by Mikel Janín, the issue is illustrated by Xermánico and it looks excellent, with confidently posed characters, excellent panel-to-panel storytelling and superb textures.
Spreads are framed with decorative elements, reminding me of JH Williams’ lovely work on Promethea. Xermánico, working with the excellent colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr, brings a mood of foreboding to every page, underlining the fact that this is anything but the regular DCU. I particularly enjoyed the twilight tones of Wayne Manor… even the colours on the title and credits spread look amazing.
How great is that title treatment? And yes, I praised it when Flashpoint Beyond #0 appeared, but it looks even better against this background. Rob Leigh is so good at this lettering business, here the sound effects are unusually attractive, and I love the yellow glow he gives word balloons when someone speaks while under the spell of Diana’s magic lasso.
Mikel Janín’s pages are as super-clean and sharp as you’d expect from this established talent, contrasting nicely with those of Xermánico – there’s a story reason for the different styles. Jordaire Bellaire colours this epilogue sequence sensitively.
As for the cover, Mitch Gerads gives us a splendidly moody Thomas Wayne Batman…I think I’m finally warming to the character.
So, how was Flashpoint Beyond #1 for you?