By: Geoff Johns (writer), Andy Kubert (penciller), Sandra Hope & Jesse Delperdang (inkers), Alex Sinclair (colorist)

The Story: The Flash realizes sometimes it’s better to just start from square one.

The Review: And so we come to the end.  But what exactly is ending?  A misdirected war between races?  The atrocious perversion of an entire universe?  The tenuous existence of those brought forth in that universe?  A whole era of comics history?  The answer, of course, is all of those at the same time.  For those reasons, this final issue should be a testament to the last few decades of DC storytelling, and those same reasons assure that this final issue is anything but.

The war between Atlantis and the Amazons, by itself, deserved much greater focus from this series than it got.  As the major motivation for Barry to make things right, and as the most pressing conflict for pretty much every character besides Barry, it should’ve had more time to expand to critical proportions, to convince us of how dire the situation truly is.  Johns betted the tie-ins would somehow supply this missing tension, and that wager gets defeated big time.

Many of us probably assumed, with the appearance of Zoom at the end of last issue, that we knew who brought this mess into being.  But as Zoom himself crows, the real person responsible is actually a little closer to home.  Most of these revelations get told through rambling dialogue in the middle of a heated battle (and you all know how fun those can be), and in the midst of all that chaos, it seems a weak attempt to add one more “twist” to the story.

Instead of mining these cheap plot turns, perhaps Johns would’ve been wiser to stick to some of the essentials of fictions, such as crafting characters you can get invested in.  With the possible exception of Thomas Wayne, none of the new characters get much more than a flicker of the spotlight, and so you feel no attachment to any of them.  By the end of the issue, Johns pretty much lets them loose, pretty much abandoning them to their vague fates, accessories to the end.

If only the issue redeemed itself with some sincere, developing moments with the few characters Johns actually pays attention to.  To be fair, he tries, in Barry’s scenes with both his mother and Batman (our Batman—or, at least, soon to be our Batman, or the one we must settle with).  No doubt these sequences mean to wring our hearts, but in the context of this completely confused storyline, they just seem to wring false emotions and feel like a shallow indulgence.

In the end, none of these things really matter.  As the last few months of ceaseless marketing, teases, and spoilers have indicated beyond reasonable doubt, Flashpoint is simply a convenient tool to get to the new DCU, and the Flash is a mere instrument of that.  The appearance of some mysteriously omnipresent lady during his run to “fix” the universe attempts to fool you into thinking this series has some future value, but by that point, you’re too smart and wary to fall for it.  We’ll see her in the first or second Big Event of DC’s new age, I imagine.

Kubert’s art has consistently gotten the job done from day one, but it can’t be said the writing has done him any favors by forcing him to squeeze hordes of characters, each with their own set of conflicts, into the most cramped panels possible, wallpapered over with dialogue that never stops.  In those circumstances, even a strong artist like Kubert, whose specialty in any case lies with big, splashy, action-packed pages, will struggle.

Conclusion: Somehow too much and too little at the same time, we can only hope this issue serves as a Viking death ship to all the thin, ill-conceived, poorly executed storylines of the DC of yore.  In any case, it’s a pretty good example of one.

Grade: D+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Does anyone else find it interesting that two of the most prominent women in this series, Enchantress and Element Woman, both get portrayed as unpredictable loons with crazy eyes?  “I just want to have some fun!