June 1st, 2011
How could he be the Judge? Him of all people? His face! the acid! Terrible disfigurement!
If a Judge Dent was possible, then in this crazy upside down world anything was.
But it didn’t stop there.
Every year I give another UBER FAN GEOFF JOHNS comic a go. I do this out of a spirit of genuine enquiry and because people like David Uzumeri enjoy his comics, and every year I wonder why I do this to myself, and then I write about my pain here. Because not only do I find Johns’ work boring – in spades – but I also find it annoying and ultimately very depressing. Johns is now one of the most powerful writers in the industry, which for me is worrying because he represents the point at which my taste diverges from many fan’s. I’m on record as a continuity skeptic and, for me, Johns’ penchant for splashing around in the murky mire of continuity and legacy is self defeating and boring. The rise to power of these twin obsessions within DC is one of the main reasons why Marvel outsell them. It’s not because the DCU is inherently stranger and more esoteric than its sister universe and neither is it because, DC editorial take note (or not), of its lack of grounding in REAL. WORLD. EVENTS. but because no one cares about superheroes/villains standing around a lot being slightly different superheroes/villains from the superheroes/villains Geoff Johns and his fellow uber-fans are used to.
No one cares about that.
But I care about the fatalism it represents. It’s almost as though DC have just thrown in the towel. ‘Screw it’, Flashpoint seems to say, ‘superhero comics are fucked and all we can do now is milk the uber fan.’ I wasn’t joking when I said Flashpoint largely consists of superheroes standing around a lot. Really, nothing happens, nothing at all, but maybe a better way to describe it is… Look, you know when kids line their toys up on the shelf, ostensibly for a roll call but really just so they can *feel* the weight of their collection? That’s what’s going on in the pages of the first issue of DC’s latest game changer. Hoarding – universe Building for the sake of it. But a universe with nowhere to go – more joyless tweaking and revisioning, leading to more joyless tweaking and revisioning. Forget storytelling, who needs that stuff when Aquaman and Wonder Woman can be evil? When Cyborg – fucking Cyborg – can be Superman? I tell you now, Flashpoint isn’t a story, it’s just a movement from one startling continuity/legacy nudging non-event to another, for five issues, leading to a line wide recuperation of all DCU titles into its ghastly spectacle of fan-service and costume/world map/timeline collecting. This issue ended with the startling revelation that the Batman of Flashpoint’s reality is in fact Thomas Wayne. Expect more exciting revelations in the weeks to come. That is a promise. I promise you. All the superheroes that ya gotta love in a world ya gotta love gotta love.
It really is dead from the waist down, like the qliphothic shadow of Batman Inc, a comic which, unlike Flashpoint, wants to play with its toys as much as stare at them.
Obviously none of this is helped by Geoff’s flatter than flat dialogue and dead pan character sketching. I mean, seriously, this comic contains a Harlequin analogue called Yo-Yo (I know, I’m falling asleep already) who arrives equipped with such brain frazzling idea-bombs as
‘The Joker’s in all of us, Batman! It’s in you. Me. The people of Gotham city. We’re all a little bit crazy.’
And then, later, when Harlequin’s words reverberate across the husk of a soul-gutted Shade the Changing Man.
‘My M-vest can sense it within her. Emily Sung, the Element Woman, is a bit mad.’
This isn’t voice, it’s place-holder dialogue. The only way I can hear it is as a monotonous drone. More death. God, Blackest Night really was the truth wasn’t it? The ultimate truth of the DCU.
The only ray of light in the whole awful affair was the way I fanwanked Barry Allen’s strangely autistic lack of emotional response, i.e. not screaming and crying and freaking out like a motherfucker at finding himself trapped in a new reality where his mother was alive and his wife was married to someone else. The beats are there, he enjoys cuddletime with mom and he looks a bit freaked out over Iris, but cuddletime stareytime isn’t anywhere near a human-appropriate reaction to having your whole world turned on its head – and here comes the fanwank – except if you’re a superhero. Why? Because you’ve hopped around in time and other dimensions enough to be used to this shit by now, your psyche growing as superfluid as your speedsuit. You not only have metahuman powers, but a metahuman psychology. You’re a superhero for God’s sake.
And all it would’ve taken was a couple of dialogue boxes pointing in this direction and I would’ve been happy, but as it was I was looking at a dead body. It couldn’t gesture in any direction other than across its own surface. Believe me, it took Green Lantern like levels of willpower and Jesus-like generosity of spirit to even approach the place where Flashpoint was worthy of even a glimmer of my fanwanking, and that’s why it only happened once .
Anyway, I’ve had enough of this now.
I suppose Batman sums this endless horror up best:
‘I’m not the hero of this story. I’m a man who’s been corrupted by his own unbearable pain. I’m a man who has too much blood on his hands to be called good. I’m a man who has nothing to live for…. until the day I met UBER-FAN GEOFF JOHNS’ FAN FAVOURITE SUPERHERO the Flash.’
And then a riot of colourful nothing forever, then Armageddon.