By: Rex Ogle (writer), Eduardo Francisco (artist), Stefani Renee (colorist)

The Story: Hey Traci—what if I tell you the cards are saying we should hit a resort in Bermuda?

The Review: In theory, devoting an entire tie-in to exploring the Flashpoint world and all its various altered locales should have been the ultimate opportunity to go all-out in the creativity department.  Think about it: you have the entire DCU in your fingertips and you can mold almost any part of it any which way you please.  Such a title deserves both a writer and artist who can take advantage of this rare chance to just let their imaginations run away with them.

So how did we end up with such a dismally uninteresting series?  For one thing, Ogle burdens the story with a simplistic plot (Traci’s dad planning to blast away the Amazons and Atlanteans from a satellite death ray) that nevertheless forces Traci to act as quickly as possible.  This sense of haste makes her journey around the world in this issue incredibly rushed, randomly zipping into a scene and making her way before you even get your bearings.

As a result, you don’t get to see much of the world but at all.  Even when the captions indicate we’re someplace new, Ogle usually traps us within a very contained set (often indoors), making no difference in whether we’re hanging out in Brazil or Australia.  You’ll be lucky if you get even one panel showing the latest setting.  So yeah, while you do technically travel the world of Flashpoint this issue, I’d say it’s more of the View-Master tour than the off-road experience.

Probably the best/worst example of this hurried pace is Traci’s excursion into Namibia, where in three pages she finds a pile of dead bodies, tries to save the survivors, gets conked by a gorilla, wakes up strung up, frees herself, then immediately gains an ally in a feral Beast Boy, who shows up out of nowhere and in a very out-of-context, sudden fashion betrays his gorilla masters.  I repeat: this all happens in three pages.  Just imagine what a gripping drama that turns out to be!

The worst part is all these efforts go for naught, as Traci embarks on this trip only because Madame Xanadu wants her to “See the world.  See why it is worth saving.”  And since everything Traci sees is horrible, but all in unrelated ways, you have to question what the value of this odyssey is in the first place.  But don’t worry—Father Jason Todd (exactly as it sounds) tells us we’re not supposed to know what all this nonsense means until the time is right.

Meanwhile, it’s surprising Traci’s dad doesn’t make use of Traci’s prolonged absence to just go ahead and fire up the death ray.  Frankly, I empathize that Traci wants no more loss of life, but these mythic races have dragged millions of lives into their personal, selfish conflict and they have no qualm about involving even more.  This is war, Trace—I say we zap those ancient mofos into oblivion and have a celebratory sandwich afterward.

Francisco’s art is as forgettable as ever, getting the job done, but doing little to drive whatever emotional impact or suspense can be possible for the underwhelming script.  His character designs are usually uninspired when they’re not downright laughable: check out Natasha Irons’ ridiculous outfit (half tank-top stretched over a bra) and hairdo (she’s trying to have both of Rihanna’s weaves!).

Conclusion: Clearly, some extra time, pains, and thought had to be put in to make this story work.  The best thing you can say about this issue is that the writing and art are not the worst.

Grade: D

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – And, I swear, if this series ends with all the characters Traci met showing up at the last second to help her out, I will just flat-out spew.

– You’re in a bar and you ask for milk?  Why don’t you order some Hershey’s syrup to stir in while you’re at it?  And if you’re that exhausted, wouldn’t Gatorade be a more helpful beverage?  I don’t know if replenishing your electrolytes will boost your magic, but it can’t hurt.