By: Geoff Johns (writer), Andy Kubert (penciller), Sandra Hope (inker), Alex Sinclair (colorist)

The Story: Nothing is as it seems!  Everything isn’t as it should be!  Alright, some things are kind of the same!

The Review: I’m a huge fan of parallel-universe nonsense; there are few things quite as fun as taking the familiar and spinning it in a different direction, either by a bit or a big leap.  When DC revealed the premise of Flashpoint, I immediately flashbacked to Marvel’s House of M, which I followed and enjoyed, and reading this first issue, I can’t help making some connections and comparisons between the two storylines.

Flashpoint drops us right into the thick of this new world without actually seeing it come into being with a physical event, unlike Scarlet Witch’s infamous “red wave” of magic.  This has the effect of immediately upping the tension, making us as disoriented and anxious as Barry as he finds everything he knew or had has been twisted away.  Before he can go into full-panic mode, he discovers not all the twists are bad—but some are even worse.

Johns very successfully carries that sense of tension throughout the issue as every panel offers a discovery that’s either majorly altered from what we recognize, or entirely brand-new. HoM had a focal point from which all the changes of its world took place, but Flashpoint has none.  That means the sky’s the limit for Johns and the other writers to wreak havoc on the DCU.

You can really see the imaginative leaps in store for this series when Cyborg tracks down Batman with his team in tow (though you can’t call them a team when most seem to downright loathe each other).  Johns goes all-out creating new characters with already intriguing histories, like the disfigured Outsider’s interest in using the teenaged Blackout as a power source for India.  Otherwise, Johns boldly messes with the status quo: my favorite has to be scar-faced, vengeful Captain Thunder (formerly known as Captain Marvel) and his giant, armored saber-toothed tiger.  Kudos—if you’re going for this kind of story, go big, and Johns is aiming for that.

Whereas HoM was solely concerned with trying to get the world back to normal, Flashpoint has two crises going on: the muck-up of reality is we all know the bigger problem, but this mucked-up reality has a major crisis of its own in the form of Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s war, soon to ravage the entire planet, with millions already dead.  It’ll be much more of a challenge for Barry as he tries to fix the time-space continuum in the midst of all this craziness.

This issue’s mostly talk, but that’s necessary for us to get our bearings.  There’s enough drama in the changes themselves that you don’t really notice how little action’s going on.  Anyway, the big reveal at the end almost makes up for the lack of fists and explosions.  It’s a pretty enormous twist that really emphasizes how you can’t expect anything to be what it should be.

A big event can lose its scale if the art doesn’t support it (e.g., Secret Invasion), but Kubert is a terrific choice for this kind of event, which is more epic in scope than substance.  Kubert has a slick, kinetic style very reminiscent of Jim Lee, but softer around the edges, which really helps to sell the sentimental moments in the script.  His richness of detail can take your breath away, whether it’s new-Batman slinging his way across the Gotham City skyline, or the appearance Cyborg’s not-very-merry band of “superheroes.”  Hope brings out even the finest lines with her careful ink-work, and Sinclair’s colors convey a cinematic sense of grandness.

Conclusion: A very strong, promising start to DC’s most talked-about storyline, though much depends on the follow-up.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Nothing kills the spirit of the fastest man alive like being stuck in traffic.

– If the seven of them merge together when they turn into Captain Thunder, then what happens to the bunny in Mary Batson’s arms?  Woah!