By: Scott Snyder & Lowell Francis (writers), Gene Ha (artist), Art Lyon (colorist)
The Story: What, you think you’re better than us? Oh, you actually are? Never mind.
The Review: In the world of Flashpoint, a lot of things have gone wacky, and one of the most significant ones is there is no man in red cape and undies flying around in sight. That leaves you very sincerely asking, whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow? But you also have to wonder, in the vacuum of Superman, what kind of people will try to take his place, and how will the world change for it?
To answer those questions, Snyder and Francis begin their story well in the past, just as in Snyder’s other Flashpoint tie-in, Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown. One vaguely familiar figure from that series, General Adam, cameos in this issue, stressing the connections between these two minis. But before you agonize over if you have to drive back to your comic book store to pick up Frankenstein, just know this series stands completely fine on its own.
The story stars one Lieutenant Sinclair, a man who’s had a lot of run-ins with post-WWII metahuman threats, who winds up the recipient of a Super Soldier program that stress the patriot in “Soldier.” The whole thing soon spirals into a kind of Flowers for Algernon breakdown for Sinclair, who becomes more unbalanced as his ever-growing powers increasingly separate him from his fellow man.
Ultimately this dehumanization of Sinclair comes from his own misuse of one of Buddhism’s four noble truths, “Attachment leads to suffering.” He enters the program by severing all ties to his former life, and so reduces his world to constant tests in an underground lab. Humans are social animals, and without society, they strip away an essential part of their humanity. It’s a subtle commentary on what makes Superman, for all his powers, so grounded
Sinclair’s sole link to the man he was is General Lane, about the only character with any ties to the DCU. Lane retains his traditional distrust of metahumans, but here comes across as a little too idealistically ambitious, someone trying to have his cake and eat it too as he’s determined to create a superhuman who at heart is still human. But his isolation of Sinclair clearly results in the opposite effect, and he exacerbates the situation with his hypocrisy; it’s no coincidence that just as Sinclair feels most alone, Lane runs off to join his growing family.
Francis treats Sinclair’s unwinding with great sensitivity, showing how Sinclair slowly loses grip on his self-restraint. Once finally let out into the field, Sinclair sincerely struggles to control himself even as he slips into the lethal groove that worked so well in all his lab trials, but winds up producing disastrous results (even though he scores a victory) in practice.
Ha’s sketchy, hatched linework gives off a grounded sense of drama to the characters while conveying great details in the sci-fi elements of the story. He even whips up unique designs for all the metahuman villains Sinclair fights, even though they only show up for a few panels (love the luchadors—I’m rather sad we don’t get to really see them in action.
Conclusion: In previous weeks we’ve gotten a lot of Flashpoint tie-ins where the creators seem like they winged the whole thing, but with a story from Snyder (penned by the very capable of Francis) and art from Ha, this is one tie-in that’s getting first-class treatment.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – For a series that has Superman in the title, we get no sign of the guy until the very last page, and even that appearance hardly counts. I’m all for it; Superman’s getting a reputation for being a chronic no-show.